8 Signs of a Manipulative Personality

8 Signs of a Manipulative Personality

What does it mean to be manipulative? Well manipulation usually means to control, change and warp the behaviors or perceptions of others. It involves the use of deception or underhand methods to achieve personal aims. Manipulators use a range of tactics from guilt to playing mind games (Lancer 2020). Thus, there is often a negative connotation because it is considered to be exploitative and cunning. Have anyone in mind? But first, let’s take a step back and go through some of the signs of a manipulative personality.

1. They Instill Self-Doubt in Others

Has someone made you second-guess yourself often? It could be a sign of manipulative behavior. This is because doubt can affect an individual’s self-confidence. Having a low confidence potentially makes the individual more susceptible to manipulative tactics. It could also be perceived as manipulating a person to feel bad about themselves. In return, it makes the manipulator feel good in knowing that they have succeeded in holding power over the individual.

2. Experts at Guilt-Tripping

Another prominent factor of manipulation is the use of guilt. If you have ever done something because you felt bad about a situation, you can probably understand how guilt can be used to manipulate. If not, let’s break it down. Guilt-tripping is a form of emotional manipulation. Guilt can be a strong factor in getting someone to act a specific way as well. It manipulates the individual to be in a submissive position as they may feel that they have do as instructed to be free of that guilt. Thus, manipulators sometimes use guilt to hold power over their victims.

3. Taking Advantage of Kindness

Ever heard of being too kind for your own good? Well one of the reasons is because manipulators often exploit kindness to their advantage. This is also a form of emotional manipulation. A kind individual often wants to offer their help to those who need it. However, manipulative people tend to exploit that because help will be given to them out of goodwill. The one thing to notice is that they usually do not return the favor when sought for help. According to Psychology Today (2020), manipulative people tend to take advantage of other traits such as conscientiousness and emotional sensitivity as well.

4. Spreading False Information on Purpose

Well, how does false information relate to manipulative behavior? The thing is, it can affect an individual’s perception on various matters or about a person. The manipulation begins with the circulation of false information as an attempt to get people to view things in a certain way. By doing so, the manipulator can gain more control in achieving their desired outcome because they have manipulated people into thinking the same way.

5. Never Taking the Blame

We all respect someone who is responsible for their actions right? Unfortunately, that’s not the case with manipulative people. They will always try to shift the blame to someone else if possible and sometimes manipulate people into thinking that they are the victim instead. The common narrative that they follow is that the problem is usually never with them but always with someone else.

6. Avoid Showing Manipulative Traits

Manipulative people tend to hide these traits for various potential reasons. By being discrete, they are highly likely able to utilize their manipulative tactics for a longer period of time. It also makes their manipulations less noticeable which helps them to maintain their facade. Through subtle manipulation, they can control the situation without having to expose their manipulative personalities.

7. Feigning Ignorance

This usually ends up as a last resort when a manipulative person is being confronted. Depending on how well they act and lie, feigning ignorance can potentially help them get out of a sticky situation by confusing the other party. It allows the manipulator to question others’ which may make people doubt their own information. Best to be aware right? This tactic also allows them to continue their personal plans and exploits.

8. Making Their Tactics Seem Normal

As people tend to accept the norm most of the time, manipulative people will always try to justify their tactics. Making it seem normal helps to justify their actions and mask their true intentions. It helps them to prove to others that their actions are correct and their behavior is appropriate. The scary part is that many people end up falling prey as they feel it is right.

According to Good Therapy (2020), victims of manipulation often suffer from poor mental health as manipulation can sometimes be a form of emotional abuse. Although this article explains only eight signs, there could be more ways of manipulation out there. It is important to be vigilant and aware, in case someone is trying to manipulate you.



“9 Classic Traits of Manipulative People.” Psychology Today. Sussex Publishers. Accessed February 12, 2020. https://www.psychologytoday.com/sg/blog/in-flux/201610/9-classic-traits-manipulative-people.

GoodTherapy. 2020. “Manipulation”. Goodtherapy.Org Therapy Blog. https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/psychpedia/manipulation.

Lancer, Darlene. 2020. “How To Spot Manipulation”. Psych Central. https://psychcentral.com/lib/how-to-spot-manipulation/.

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