9 signs you’re dealing with an incredibly smart but manipulative person

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Have you ever found yourself at the mercy of a manipulative person? It’s only after knowing them for awhile that you realize just how controlling they were.

And how they successfully convinced you to do things that you didn’t want to.

While it may be easier to identify signs that you’re dealing with a manipulative person, it’s a bit more challenging when you meet an incredibly smart one.

Dealing with manipulative people can be incredibly draining and may also be a detriment to your mental health.

So, today we’ll identify 9 signs you’re interacting with a smart but manipulative person. 

1) They’re very charismatic.

Charismatic people know the art of capturing people’s attention and winning their trust.

It’s not about what they say, it’s also about how they say it. They’re probably incredibly witty, funny and interesting. 

And they know this. They know how to adjust their personality to suit the other person’s liking.

If you know someone like this, notice how people naturally trust them. You’ll find that other people willingly share their troubles and secrets, and are also willing to do whatever they say.

Even if it’s doing something the other person isn’t comfortable with, a charming, manipulative person is able to convince them otherwise. 

2) They share information selectively.

Another sign you’re dealing with an intelligent and manipulative person is the way they share information.

It may be tough to pick up on, but watch how they never give you the full story.

You could try asking another person about the same incident to see what details they deliberately miss out on, then ask yourself why they’d do that.

Is it because they wanted you to take action? Is it because they didn’t want you to perceive the situation in a certain way?

Watch also how they never divulge more information about themselves than necessary. Somehow they know everything about everyone, yet no one really knows who manipulative people truly are.

Doing so helps to conceal their true intentions especially when they’re trying to get someone to do what they want.

3) They use flattery and praise strategically.

This is also another common sign that indicates you’re dealing with a manipulative person.

Have you ever received a compliment that made you think twice? Receiving compliments is something most people enjoy. 

But if you pay attention to the context of the situation or maybe the way the other person is saying it, you may discover that there’s something more to this seemingly innocent praise.

Flattery can be used to win another person over, and manipulative people wield this like a weapon. 

They make the other person feel good about themselves by stroking their ego and as a result, they lower their guards and allow themselves to be manipulated – often without them knowing. 

4) Their empathy is calculated.

Sure, these people may show some level of empathy, but it’s just to serve their own purpose instead.

They use this in a calculative manner – just enough to gain the other person’s trust so that they can get what they want.

They’re not genuinely concerned at all for other people. However, they will appear as if they are.

You may find them saying the right things when another person is down, or providing seemingly good words of advice for someone else who’s going through a tough time.

But be wary of these people because the moment they get what they want, they’ll abandon you.

5) They’re very good at reading people.

Highly intelligent people know how to read people. They know what makes them tick, the reasons for their behaviours and what they’re thinking of, despite their facial expressions at the time.

To you it may seem as if this person has such an understanding heart. But in reality, they’re just exploiting this knowledge so that they can use your weaknesses to their benefit.

They’ll take advantage of the way you react to certain things, your vulnerabilities, and flaws. 

And then one day, they’ll find an opportunity to betray that trust you put in them.

6) They’re meticulous planners.

Intelligent manipulators are also meticulous planners. They’re able to orchestrate an elaborate plan to achieve what they want.

And they’re very, very patient.

They know how to avoid detection or have anything trace back to them. It’s usually only after the entire situation has played out that you realize that something isn’t quite right.

The reason for that is…

7) They’re very good at gaslighting.

Gaslighting usually involves manipulating someone into doubting their versions of reality. 

Highly intelligent manipulators are very skilled in this. They will successfully convince you that what you saw or remembered was wrong.

They may even convince you to think that your feelings – no matter how justified – are unfounded. Worse still, they may make you question your sanity.

This gives them the upper hand in the situation, enabling them to control or undermine you. 

8) They intimidate but not enough to scare people off.

Perhaps you may have identified that the person you’re dealing with is highly manipulative. But there’s a part of you that’s afraid of them.

They’re not all that frightening though – there’s just this part of them that you fear. If you push them too hard, they may become aggressive and angry.

That’s because they’ve positioned themselves to be intimidating, but not too intimidating – this would scare people off.

What they need is for people to trust them.

9) They have a good mastery over the words they use. 

And the ultimate sign of an intelligent manipulator is that they’re very good at twisting their words.

They have complete mastery over their choice of words and are able to identify the right ones to say in every situation to suit their needs.

Their arguments are airtight and they’re highly persuasive. You may not even doubt a single thing that they say.

Even if you do, they will have a thousand and one reasons to prove why you’re wrong and they’re right.

They’re able to use words to influence the way you feel about situations as well. They can manipulate language to create confusion, justify their actions or make them out to be the victim in a problem they created in the first place.

Concluding thoughts

It’s not easy dealing with a manipulator, let alone a highly intelligent one.

In such situations, it’s important to trust your instincts. If you’re not comfortable with something, avoid it.

If you suspect that this person may be using you, consult a trusted friend and get another person’s perspective. 

Don’t let someone manipulate your reality and make you doubt your sanity!

Eliza Hartley

Eliza Hartley, a London-based writer, is passionate about helping others discover the power of self-improvement. Her approach combines everyday wisdom with practical strategies, shaped by her own journey overcoming personal challenges. Eliza's articles resonate with those seeking to navigate life's complexities with grace and strength.

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