8 phrases only highly manipulative people use, according to psychology

Manipulation and influence – they may seem similar, but in reality, they’re worlds apart.

Manipulation is all about control, making others dance to your tune while keeping your real motives hidden.

Influence, however, gives others the freedom to decide, even as you guide them towards better choices.

Psychology tells us that highly manipulative individuals have certain phrases they repeatedly use.

I’m about to reveal these 8 phrases so you can spot it when someone is trying to pull the wool over your eyes.

1) “Trust me…”

In the realm of manipulation, nothing is more effective than the misuse of trust.

Manipulative people understand this all too well.

They know that once they earn your trust, they have a better chance of making you do what they want.

Enter the phrase “Trust me…”

This is a common phrase used by highly manipulative individuals.

It’s an attempt to fast-track the trust-building process, to bypass any potential doubts or hesitations you might have.

Why waste time building trust when you can simply demand it?

That’s the manipulator’s mindset.

But beware, trust should be earned, not demanded.

So when someone insists that you should “Trust them…”, you might want to take a step back and question their motives.

Remember, manipulation is all about control.

Being aware of these phrases is your first step in taking back control and not falling victim to their tactics.

2) “You owe me…”

Let’s dive into the world of emotional manipulation now, shall we?

Highly manipulative people often resort to guilt-tripping to get what they want.

One phrase that stands out in this context is “You owe me…”

I’ll share a personal example. I once had a friend who was great at playing the victim.

Whenever I couldn’t cater to her needs, she would remind me, “You owe me for all the times I’ve helped you.”

Initially, I used to feel guilty and give in to her demands.

Then I realized what was happening – I was being manipulated.

Psychology explains that guilt is a powerful emotional tool that manipulative people use to control others’ actions.

It’s a way of saying, “If you don’t do this for me, you’re a bad person.”

So next time someone tries to pull the “You owe me…” card on you, remember my story and pause for reflection.

You don’t owe anyone something just because they say so.

3) “I hate to be the one to tell you this…”

Manipulative individuals often have a knack for delivering bad news.

They use phrases like “I hate to be the one to tell you this…” to frame themselves as the reluctant bearer of negative information.

But here’s the catch: they’re not really reluctant. In fact, they’re often quite eager.

They pretend to sympathize with you while subtly enjoying the control they have over your emotional response.

This tactic is known as ‘emotional puppeteering‘, where the manipulator pulls at your heartstrings to make you feel a certain way.

By saying something like “I hate to be the one to tell you this…”, they’re essentially setting the stage for an emotional reaction, which they can then exploit for their own gain.

So next time someone starts a sentence with this phrase, take a moment to question their motives and consider if they’re genuinely empathetic or just trying to pull your strings.

4) “I don’t want to argue…”

In the manipulator’s toolkit, the phrase “I don’t want to argue…” is a powerful weapon.

It’s a cunning way to shut down a conversation or steer it in a direction that suits them.

On the surface, it seems like they’re taking the high road, avoiding conflict for the sake of peace.

But in reality, it’s a calculated move to silence you and your views.

Using this phrase, manipulative individuals are subtly implying that if the conversation continues, it’s you who would be causing an argument.

It’s a guilt-inducing tactic to make you back down.

So, if someone tries to end a conversation with “I don’t want to argue…”, be aware.

It could be an attempt to suppress your voice and manipulate the situation in their favor.

5) “I’m your only friend…”

When manipulators aim to isolate you from your support system, they often resort to phrases like “I’m your only friend…”

This is a particularly cruel form of manipulation, aiming to make you feel alone and dependent on them. It plays on one of our most basic human fears – the fear of being alone.

In my line of work as a psychologist, I’ve seen cases where this kind of manipulation has led to serious emotional distress.

Individuals end up feeling trapped and helpless, believing they have no one else to turn to.

Remember, true friends empower you and respect your other relationships.

They don’t restrict your social circle or make you feel indebted to them.

If someone is constantly reminding you that they’re your ‘only friend’, it might be time for a heartfelt conversation about boundaries and respect.

6) “No one else understands…”

Manipulators often seek to create a ‘them against us’ narrative.

A common phrase they use to accomplish this is, “No one else understands…”

I remember a time when I was younger and more naive. I got involved with a group of people who constantly used this phrase.

They made me feel like we were the misunderstood outcasts, a tight-knit group against a world that didn’t get us.

In retrospect, I realize that it was a classic manipulation tactic.

They were trying to make me feel special and chosen while subtly isolating me from others.

This phrase is designed to make you question the validity of other people’s perspectives and to trust only the manipulator’s point of view.

It’s a way of ensuring that you rely on them for emotional validation, thus giving them more control over you.

So if you hear “No one else understands…” be careful. It might be an attempt to isolate you and manipulate your perceptions.

7) “You’re overreacting…”

One of the most common phrases manipulative individuals use is “You’re overreacting…”.

It’s a textbook example of gaslighting, a form of emotional manipulation where the manipulator makes you doubt your own feelings and perceptions.

By telling you that you’re overreacting, they’re invalidating your feelings and turning the tables on you.

Instead of addressing the issue at hand, they make it about your reaction to the issue.

The objective here is simple: to make you second-guess yourself.

The more you doubt your reactions, the easier it is for them to control the narrative and manipulate you.

So next time someone tells you that you’re overreacting, remember this: Your feelings are valid. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.

8) “If you really cared about me…”

Manipulators often play the emotional card using phrases like “If you really cared about me…”.

It’s a coercive strategy designed to make you prove your feelings or loyalty by doing what they want.

By invoking your affection or concern for them, they’re trying to corner you into a situation where refusing their request makes you seem uncaring or selfish.

The crux is this: Love and care should never be used as leverage.

Genuine affection is about respect and understanding, not about fulfilling unreasonable demands under the guise of proving your love.

So the next time someone uses this phrase on you, stand your ground. Your feelings are not a bargaining chip.

Final thoughts: The power of awareness

Understanding human behavior is an enigma that psychology attempts to decode, and manipulation is a complex part of this puzzle.

The phrases we’ve highlighted are not just words but a reflection of manipulative tactics individuals use to assert control.

Recognizing these phrases is your first line of defense against manipulation.

Just like a chameleon changes its colors for survival, manipulators use these phrases to blend in and control situations.

But they can’t change the fact that knowledge is power.

By becoming aware of these phrases, you are taking a crucial step towards safeguarding yourself from manipulation.

Remember, healthy relationships are based on respect, understanding, and freedom of choice, not control and coercion.

So the next time you encounter these phrases, pause and reflect.

Your awareness could be the key to maintaining your autonomy and emotional well-being.

Mia Zhang

Mia Zhang blends Eastern and Western perspectives in her approach to self-improvement. Her writing explores the intersection of cultural identity and personal growth. Mia encourages readers to embrace their unique backgrounds as a source of strength and inspiration in their life journeys.

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