Manipulators love unleashing little and big mind games on their partners, colleagues, and even friends and family.
But what they love doing the most is playing the victim. When you or someone finally stands up to them and accuses them of their heinous actions, they cry crocodile tears.
That’s why it’s so hard to deal with these kinds of people. They’re just too good at their “craft.”
To have some ammunition against them, you first need to learn their tactics. That’s why I’ve compiled a list of ways manipulators will twist your words to play the victim.
Let’s see what they are!
1) They conveniently hear only what fits their narrative
Manipulators pick and choose what they want to hear. They focus on things that support their story and ignore anything that doesn’t fit.
For example, when you express your feelings about something that hurt you, they only focus on your frustration and ignore your valid concerns.
That’s incredibly frustrating to deal with because they twist your words six ways from Sunday, and you’re left wondering what just happened.
I’ve seen this happen a couple of times, and every time, it’s an incredible sight to behold. You basically get a first-hand glimpse into the way their mind works, and it ain’t pretty.
2) Pretend not to understand, so you end up feeling frustrated
Another pretty common tactic they use is simply pretending not to understand you.
Imagine explaining a simple concept to someone, and they stare at you like you’re speaking an alien language.
That’s the manipulator’s way of clouding the conversation. They act like they’re in the dark to make you question your own clarity.
It’s also a great way to dodge assignments because it’s often easier to do it yourself or assign it to someone else than it is to deal with their bullshit.
They, of course, know that, and that’s one of the reasons they do it. In this case, they’re not a victim per se, but they still manipulate you and twist your words.
3) Act like they never did anything wrong and shift the blame elsewhere
Manipulators also love shifting blame onto others. You see, instead of admitting they messed up, they simply deny any wrongdoing.
They point the finger elsewhere or bring up unrelated stuff to distract from the real issue.
At work, it would look like this:
Instead of owning up to not meeting a project deadline, they blame a colleague’s supposed lack of support or the software they were using, deflecting from their own responsibility.
Or when a team project goes awry, the manipulator would point fingers at team members, claiming they didn’t contribute enough. Or they’d bring up unrelated issues to divert attention from their own shortcomings in project management.
4) Lay on the guilt thick to make you question your intentions
Think of guilt as their go-to tool. They don’t just feel disappointed; they use guilt on purpose, like a planned move in a game of chess.
It’s not accidental, too. They’re aiming to make you feel like you’ve done something wrong, even when you haven’t.
It’s a sneaky way of making you carry the weight of their emotional drama.
5) Twist your words to make them mean something entirely different
Manipulators regularly pretend not to understand you or hear what they want, twisting your words to change their meaning.
It’s like a word game where they change the rules to suit their agenda.
Here’s a perfect example:
You express concern about a project deadline, saying, “We need to work efficiently to meet the deadline.”
To which they respond with:
“So you’re saying I’m not working efficiently? I can’t believe you think that of me.”
6) Cherry-pick phrases out of context to make you look bad
By only paying attention to bits and pieces of what you say, they twist the meaning. This way, they can make themselves out to be the victim.
They’re basically grabbing a few words from a paragraph and pretending that’s the whole story.
When caught, they might turn the tables and accuse you of the same things they did. It’s a tactic to make you defend yourself instead.
By doing this simple and easy thing, they can also paint you as whatever they want. You could be too negative, harassing them, violating their rights, overstepping their boundaries, and so on.
Someone who’s looking from the outside in and doesn’t have the whole context would easily believe them, and you’d probably have to defend yourself.
7) Put on a wide-eyed innocent act, acting like they had no idea
They also love pretending they didn’t know their actions would hurt you. But even if they did, it’s part of their act. It’s a way to get sympathy after they messed up.
They act like they didn’t know what would happen to avoid taking the blame, make it seem like it’s not their fault, and get people to feel sorry for them.
It’s a planned move to make others see them in a better light by playing with how people perceive and feel about the situation.
But on the other side, they also love going to the other extreme:
8) Blow things out of proportion to amp up the drama
Making things sound way worse than they are is a common tactic. When manipulators blow things out of proportion, they’re taking a small issue and making it seem way bigger than it actually is.
Imagine if you spilled a bit of coffee on the table, and they react as if it’s a full-blown catastrophe. They magnify every little thing, turning it into a huge deal.
By doing this, they mess with how you see the situation. Something simple becomes this overly dramatic event, and it’s all a trick to control how you perceive what’s going on.
They love being a drama queen when it suits them to get attention or to manipulate you into doing something for them.
In that sense, they’re like the quintessential “Karen” but with more brains.
9) Make you doubt your memory and sanity
Gaslighting is also something they regularly do. They make you doubt your memory and sanity, and it’s like you’re in the middle of one of their mind games.
They mess with your head, making you question whether your memory is playing tricks on you.
They might flat-out deny things you distinctly remember, making you wonder if you’re losing your grip on reality.
It’s a truly sneaky and heinous move where they insist that your recollection is wrong or that events unfolded differently than you recall.
The aim is to shake your confidence in your own memory and make you feel like you might be losing touch with reality.
10) Use silence as a weapon to make you feel guilty
By refusing to talk, they make you feel guilty or anxious. It’s their way to control the situation and your emotions.
For example, you’re having a conversation, and suddenly, they go silent, leaving you hanging.
The silence becomes a loaded gun, a way to control the situation and your feelings. You start questioning yourself, wondering if you said something wrong or if there’s an issue you’re not aware of.
It’s a strategic move to manipulate your emotions and keep you on edge.
11) Act like whatever they did wasn’t a big deal, making you seem too sensitive
Manipulators often downplay what they did, making it seem like no big deal. They avoid facing the consequences of their actions.
They shift the focus away from the gravity of their actions and onto you, making it seem like you’re overreacting or being too sensitive.
For example, they cancel your plan at the last minute and tell you it’s no big deal. But the thing is, it is a big deal for you. You’re already dressed up and ready to go.
When you raise this issue, they ask you why you are making such a fuss about it. Why you’re being so sensitive.
Okay, let’s finish this here. I could write a whole book on this topic, but I know you’re busy.
Ultimately, manipulators use many sneaky and covert tactics to twist your words and paint themselves as victims.
But once you notice it, you’ll keep noticing it in the future because they won’t stop using this strategy to get what they want.