7 smart ways to throw a master manipulator off their game

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Master manipulators will spring upon you unannounced and unexpected, trying to ensnare you in their traps as quickly as possible.

And it’s not always easy to fight them off, especially if you don’t know the right tricks.

But hey, it’s your lucky day!

Today, we’re going to go over the 7 smart ways to throw a master manipulator off their game.

The next time someone tries to wrap you around their finger, you’ll know what to do.

1) Display complete emotional detachment

Okay, rule number one: don’t let your emotions get the best of you.

Manipulation only works if there is something that can be manipulated. And that something is usually a feeling, be it fear, desire, envy, greed, or anything else that guides your decisions as you fall into a manipulator’s trap.

A manipulator thrives when they have many strong emotions to work with.

The moment you give them nothing… is the moment they lose their power.

If they try to wind you up, remain calm. If they use hurtful words, shrug your shoulders. If they want to play on your feelings for somebody else, give them a dead stare.

Oh, and here’s another tip – if you can help it, avoid confiding in people you don’t completely trust. If they turn out to be master manipulators, they will latch onto the information you’ve already given them and use it against you.

The less manipulators know about you, the better. It means they have no way into your heart.

Your emotional gates are shut tight and locked.

2) Take some space when you’re not sure how to respond

Someone who’s a pro at manipulation knows that the best way to ensnare people is to force them to make quick decisions.

The quicker the decision, the better – it means that if you play your cards right, the person you’re trying to manipulate will do exactly what you want them to do.

Therefore, if you’re dealing with a manipulator, you should think over your answers and decisions very carefully. And if you don’t know how to respond, your best bet is to take some space.

Of course, a manipulator won’t like this one bit, but there’s not much they can do about it. You have every right to think things over before you make a move.

Remember – you’re not asking for space. You’re taking it. End of story.

Try this: “I need to process my feelings and have a think, so I’ll take some space for a bit. I’ll get back to you tomorrow.”

3) State your boundaries in clear terms

The clearer you are, the better. A manipulator likes to play their games in grey zones with vague rules, so if you clearly state your boundaries from the get-go, they don’t have much space.

“Stop pushing me. I’ll make a decision in my own time.”

“Your behavior’s making me uncomfortable. Can you stop it?”

“You’ve broken my boundary again, so I’m going to leave right now.”

“I’ve already said no. Respect my decision.”

Assertiveness all the way. 

Manipulators dread it because they prey on low self-esteem and heightened emotions. If you display none of those, they’ll feel uncertain and might leave you alone.

4) Call them out on their manipulative behavior

A manipulator doesn’t expect you to have read the manipulation playbook. If they find out that you have, in fact, familiarized yourself with the basics, they might feel completely thrown off their game.

“You’re gaslighting me, and I really don’t appreciate it.”

Guilt-tripping isn’t going to help you. I can see what you’re doing.”

“Look, you’re being very manipulative and I don’t like it one bit. Call me when you’re ready to have a mature conversation.”

These may sound harsh, but sometimes, you’ve got to be blunt when speaking to a manipulator to get your point across.

They need to understand that you’re not going to play their games, that you see through them, and that their tricks aren’t going to work on you.

Of course, there’s a high chance the manipulator in question will try to persuade you that they’re not manipulating you at all and that you’re actually the manipulator here.

Don’t let them. If they refuse to stop the game… make your leave.

5) Give “fogging” a try

If you’re in the midst of an argument with a manipulator, you’re not going to win. A manipulator will always find a way to twist the narrative or have the last word.

Unless you use fogging, that is.

According to the University of Virginia, fogging is a technique that can help you end an argument with an aggressive manipulator:

“The fogging technique involves agreeing with any truth that may be contained within statements, even if critical. By not responding in the expected way (which would be defensive or argumentative), the other person will cease confrontation since the desired effect is not being achieved.

When the atmosphere is less heated, it will be possible to discuss the issues more reasonably. Fogging is so termed because the individual acts like a ‘wall of fog’ into which arguments are thrown, but not returned.”

It’s quite brilliant, isn’t it?

If a manipulator tells you you’re being mean or cruel, you can simply respond, “Hey, I hear what you’re saying and I want us to reach some solution here.” 

Then suggest taking a break, in which time you can collect your thoughts and decide the next course of action.

6) Exit the conversation

If none of the techniques above work, you might want to use the last-resort solution.

Exit the conversation as quickly as possible.

It may seem rude, but remember that if you’re not having a productive discussion, the interaction will lead nowhere and might only escalate further.

Plus, you’re more likely to give in to a manipulator’s demands if you feel emotionally exhausted and just want to have it over with.

Here are some phrases you can try:

  • “I don’t feel like this conversation is heading anywhere, so I think we could use a break”
  • “This situation makes me very uncomfortable, so I’m going to leave now”
  • “I appreciate what you’re saying, but I simply disagree. Let’s leave it at that”

7) Don’t let it get to you

Master manipulators can get under your skin before you even realize what’s going on.

If there’s one thing I want you to take away from this article, it’s that a manipulator isn’t worth the emotional drama.

I know you might care a lot about this person, but at the end of the day, you need to prioritize your own well-being and peace of mind.

Emotional detachment is the way to go. 

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Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash has years of experience writing relationship articles for single females looking for love. After being single for years with no hope of meeting Mr. Right, she finally managed to get married to the love of her life. Now that she’s settled down and happier than she’s ever been in her life, she's passionate about sharing all the wisdom she's learned over the journey. Pearl is also an accredited astrologer and publishes Hack Spirit's daily horoscope.

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