Manipulators come in all shapes and sizes. As different as they may be, there are certain common denominators that they have in common with each other.
Manipulation is a form of mind control
that is difficult for people to avoid in life. Unlike brainwashing or hypnosis, we are constantly manipulating each other in our daily lives without realising the extent. In some instances, it can occur without the subject having much knowledge or control over it.
When done deliberately,
is going to work discretely
in order to reach their final goal
without getting the subject suspicious
and derail the process. The manipulator
will not worry about who they are
hurting or how others might feel and
“A person truly dedicated to the craft will resort to using any tactic, if it means they get what they want at the end of the day. They care little about your feelings or anyone else’s for that matter, even the people they claim to care about.”
The only thing that matters is attaining a very specific goal, followed by the next one and the next. Like any average person, they are always pursuing the next best thing.
In essence, they a finite number of tactic to get what they want, frequently at someone else’s expense. While the tactics may vary from one person to the next, there are 13 laws of manipulation outlined by Daniel Spade, which will used at one time or another:
Law #1 – Hide Your Intentions
Lying is perhaps the oldest and most effective form of manipulation. Politicians often resort to this tactic when they try to avoid responsibility or twist to the truth for their benefit. Some even resort of lying when there is no real reason to do so, simply thriving on the pleasure of creating chaos or the knowledge that they’re playing with someone else’s perception and invoke certain emotiond.
The art of working this angle so subtly that they don’t even realize the lie until it’s too late has pretty much perished. There could be several reasons why a manipulator resorts to lying. It could be to take
advantage of another. To conceal their true intentions so you don’t know what they’re up to. Or perhaps even to level the playing field, so they can remain one step ahead of you. An employee who was concerned about their job might approach the boss and ask about the possibility of being laid off or fired. The boss, in an attempt to conceal what’s really going on, might tell the employee there’s nothing to be worried about when in fact, plans were
already being made to replace him once he has completed work on the project he was assigned to. A colleague who has been eyeing that same promotion you are might withhold
potential information so that they could put themselves ahead of you.
Law #2 – Attention Seeking. A little bit of drama in life keeps things interesting, but for a
manipulator, drama happens all too frequently. Why? Because they created it on purpose.
Manipulators like being the center of attention to validate themselves and give their egos the
confidence boost they believe they need. A colleague at work might resort to creating
conflict between colleague A and B by telling tales to each of them about the other. This
thereby ensures that while colleague A and B are at odds with each other, they then turn to
the manipulator for “comfort”, which then makes the manipulator feel important. In a
relationship, one partner could constantly pick a fight to ensure that the other’s attention is
continually focused on them and trying to resolve a problem which may not exist.
Law #3 – Behaving Emotionally. Manipulators could be highly emotional individuals,
prone to dramatic or even hysterical outbursts when they want things done their way.
Melodramatic, loud, obnoxious, over-the-top, even at the slightest provocation a manipulator
will resort of emotional behavior, which is most of the time inappropriate in a social setting
A couple loudly arguing in the restaurant because one partner is behaving unreasonably when
things are not done their way resorts to this behavior, hoping their partner might be
embarrassed enough to give in to their demands makes this an extremely effective
manipulation technique when used correctly.
Law #4 – Playing Victim. Everyone always feels sorry for them. They seem to have the
worst luck in the world. No matter what problem you may be having, they find a way to make
you feel guilty for even talking about it by pointing out how their problem is “10 times
worse” than yours. We all suffer from a stroke of bad luck every now and then, but the
manipulator has managed to skillfully use that unlucky streak to elevate their own “victim”
status and put themselves above everyone else. A friend who constantly plays up all the
negative aspects of their life while dismissing your problems is resorting to this
manipulative tactic to get the attention they want. Tell them you had a bad day because you
had a flat tire on your way to work this morning and they’ll tell you how you could be lucky
you even have a car to complain about while they have to endure the hardships of public
transportation. Manipulators resort to this emotionally draining tactic to gain sympathy from
others, which is another way of seeking attention and making sure that everyone is focused
Law #5 – Taking Credit Where It’s Not Due. Manipulators have no qualms about getting
you to do most of the legwork, and then swooping in at the last minute to take credit like they
have done the lion’s share of the job. A common tactic which is often used in a professional
setting, especially in group projects or teamwork. These crafty manipulators flit around
delegating jobs, seemingly appearing “busy” when in fact they’re not really doing anything at
all, but when it comes time to take credit they have no problems about pushing you aside and
taking credit for the ideas and the work that you’ve put in.
Law #6 – Depend on Me. Manipulators want you to feel like you “need” them in your life.
That you simply cannot live without them. In a social setting, they’re the “popular” ones
whom everyone else seems to flock to, making you desperate to want to be a part of that
group. In a relationship, they could be the partner that constantly reminds you “what would
you do without me”, or “how would you survive without me”. They do you favors and help
you out at a time when you need it most, making you feel indebted to them so they can come
and cash in on these favors at a later date (with a manipulator, no favor ever comes for free).
Manipulators create this false belief that you need them in your life, because the more you
depend on them, the more control they have over you, which is exactly what they want. They
prey on the vulnerable and make themselves the “indispensable friend” in your life, basking
in this special status they have created. The more you lean on them for support, the more
opportunities they have to prey on your emotions and exploit you for their own advantage.
Law #7 – Selective Honesty. Have you ever felt so disarmed by how a generous person you
know could suddenly turn around and stab you in the back? Or felt so wrong-footed when
you realized you only knew half of what was going on? That’s because the person who was
feeding you with information was a manipulator, and the reason you feel stabbed in the back
or wrong-footed is that they only fed you information that they wanted you to know while
purposely withholding the rest. Selective honesty, a powerful manipulative tactic that can be
used to disarm an unsuspecting “victim”. A tactic which is today very prominent within
professional settings especially. Manipulators at work use it all the time to get ahead. If there
are five people up for the same promotion at work, the manipulator will try to give
themselves the upper hand by withholding important information that they know while
simultaneously assuring everyone else that “this is exactly what’s going on”. They lead you
to believe that they are being generous by clueing you in on what’s taking place but in reality,
they’re making sure you’re at least two steps behind them every step of the way.
Law #8 – Pretending to Be A “Friend”. Don’t be fooled by the overly friendly person you
just met on your first day at the office. They could be pretending to be your friend while
gathering information about you which they could later use to their advantage. While some
people may genuinely be friendly, start to raise the red flag if this person is being a little too
friendly by asking very personal or probing questions, especially if you’ve only just met
them. This tactic is prominent within a professional setting, and if your gut is telling you
something is off, it probably is. The manipulator could even exist within your own circle of
friends. They pretend to be your “friend” by subtly being the one who is in control of the
conversation. The conversation will always be what they dictate it should be, and it will
only happen when they determine it should happen. This “friend” might also pressure you
into making decisions by giving you very little time to think about it. Phrases like “if I’m
really your friend, you’ll do this for me” roll off the tongue of the manipulator too easily
and always for their benefit.
Law #9 – Non-Committal. Do you know anyone in your life who has a hard time committing
to anything? Even after you’ve told them how important it is and that you could use their
support right now? The non-committal individual is no friend of yours, they’re a manipulator.
They take pleasure in withholding their approval or support if it means there’s an opportunity
for them to give themselves the upper hand to control the situation for their benefit. They’re
only looking out for themselves, and they will especially refrain from committing to anything
if it means having to assume responsibility. Being non-committal is a manipulation tactic
often used in romantic relationships. When a romantic partner is being non-committal, it
keeps the other on their toes and keeps them coming back for more, thereby giving the
manipulator the upper hand. The longer they withhold their commitment, the more bending
over backward you’ll be willing to do just to get their approval.
Law #10 – Playing Dumb. Is that colleague you know genuinely unaware of what’s going
on? Or are they feigning innocence to avoid taking on extra responsibility? Playing dumb is a
manipulative tactic that often goes overlooked, but if you pay close attention, you’ll find it
apparent within a lot of professional settings. If you a leader of the group project at work,
would you assign extra responsibility to that one team member who “wasn’t as sure of
something”? Or assign that extra responsibility to another? The employee who was then
“playing dumb” gets away with doing far less, but getting the same amount of recognition as
everyone else in the group. When there’s a conflict between a group of friends, could that
one friend who “doesn’t know what’s going on” be telling the truth? Or could they be
feigning innocence, knowing full well they were responsible for instigating the conflict in the
first place? In a romantic relationship, could your partner who “doesn’t know what you’re
talking about” be telling the truth when you confront them about an issue? Or could they be
“playing dumb” to avoid being caught in a lie? Sometimes, the “innocent party” may not be
so innocent after all.
Law #11 – Pointing the Finger at Others. A manipulator will always try to keep their
hands clean by first, never assuming responsibility, and secondly by always trying to point
the finger at someone else so they get off scot-free whenever there’s a problem. Especially
when that problem could potentially jeopardize their reputation and expose them for who
they are. If you know anyone in your family, friends or even among your colleagues who
always blames the problem on anything and anyone but themselves, you could be dealing
with a manipulator. Keep a lookout for anyone who’s the pattern of behavior involves
always making someone else the scapegoat.
Law #12 – Telling You What You Want to Hear. It’s hard not to feel good when you’re
being flattered, and you’re more inclined to like the person’s who’s doing all the flattering
more than others. If there’s one person in your life who’s always telling you all the things you
want to hear, wouldn’t you be more inclined to want to follow them or spend more time with
them? It’s hard not to feel good around people like these, but telling you all the things you
want to hear is not necessarily the sign of a good friend. They could be buttering you up so
they can cash in on a big favor at a later date which you’ll be “guilted” into helping them
with “because they’ve been so nice to you”.
Law #13 – Controlling Your Decisions. A classic setting when manipulation in the form of
controlling another’s decision is present is within a romantic relationship. While it is
perfectly normal for you to base or change your decisions because of your partner, is it
because there exists within you a genuine desire to make them happy? Or are you doing it
because you don’t want to risk making them angry? There’s a very fine line between what
constitutes manipulation in a relationship. If you find yourself canceling plans far too often
with friends because your partner expresses their displeasure or makes you feel bad, that’s
manipulation in play. If you refrain from wearing clothes that your partner dislikes (even
though you love it), or stop yourself from getting a haircut because your partner said “they
don’t like short hair”, that’s a subtle form of manipulation. They’re controlling your
decisions without making it seem obvious that they are. It could start off innocently enough
with a remark or two, with something so minimal like expressing how the clothes you are
wearing does not look good on you or the kind of dress you are wearing should be something
else and suddenly you find that your life has turned into nothing but decisions that don’t make
you happy because they’re being dictated by someone who supposedly loves you.