Chances are that at some point in your life, you have met a master manipulator.
Master manipulators are everywhere in today’s society, from friends and family members to celebrities and politicians. Of course, we all use manipulation to get what we want. From a small child, we learned that to plead with sorrowful eyes was more likely to bag us that sweet treat. As adults, we tend to be subtler with our manipulations. But we are talking about a master manipulator here. Someone who regularly uses certain behaviours in order to gain some advantage over another person.
A master manipulator will want complete control over another person. As such, they will use covert methods to gain this control. The last thing a master manipulator wants is straight talking and direct communication. They thrive on mind games, twisting reality, outright lies and tricking the victim.
Obviously, we all want to stay away from a master manipulator. But first, it is important to know what to look for.
So how can we spot a master manipulator?
Master manipulators will use a range of behaviours including:
Here are some of the most common tactics of a master manipulator:
They are skilled communicators
Master manipulators use language in order to confuse their victim. They can appear charming at first and then switch at a moment’s notice.
They are effective communicators and language is their top weapon in their arsenal. Without effective use of language, they would not be able to lie, win arguments hand down, use sarcasm and drop in the odd glib comment.
With the language they employ, they control the other person. They will ridicule and then turn the insult back on the other person by being surprised that they took it to heart.
They will look for a vulnerable person
Even a master manipulator at the top of their game knows it is best to target someone vulnerable.
Strong-minded people, who do not succumb to mind games or trickery of any kind. This means that they are not the best people to manipulate. Someone with low self-esteem, that does not have many friends, has no confidence in their own abilities is a prime target. These people are easy to manipulate and control and won’t question the behaviours of the manipulator until it is too late.
Always sticks to their story
Master manipulators never break from the character they have created. They will have built an entire story based on lies. For them to be able to manipulate one another, it is crucial they stick to it.
This is why language is so important. Remembering the lies they have told in the past, being able to side-step questions and replace with accusations, constantly moving the goal posts – this can only be achieved by remaining true to their bank of lies.
They will claim to be the victim
Another part of a master manipulator’s arsenal is to turn the narrative on its head and claim that they are the actual victim. They will make their target feel as if they are in the wrong.
A true victim will be emotional when recalling traumatic events. Someone who is claiming to be a victim will be dispassionate about their past and won’t dwell on them. A true victim will want support and understanding. Someone claiming to be a victim will use their past to gain an advantage over their actual victim.
They will rationalise their actions
This is a little like the person telling a hurtful joke at the expense of a loved one saying it was only a joke. A master manipulator will rationalise their actions as an excuse for hurtful behaviour.
By rationalising what they have done, they are able to present their actions in a good light. This is another covert way they can keep their real intentions under wraps. It is another tactic they use to control a person. It allows them to carry on using this same behaviour, without issue.
Us against the world
This is called ‘forced teaming’ and is where the master manipulator uses ‘we’ to create a sense that it is us against the world, and not the manipulator taking advantage.
Be acting as if they are in a team together, the actions of the manipulator do not seem to be harmful to the victim. The manipulator will use words such as ‘both of us’ and ‘together’ and ‘ours’ to invoke a feeling of collaboration.
Master manipulators are present in all walks of life and use a myriad of manipulation techniques to gain an advantage over their victims. Consequently, it is important for us to recognise these signs. As a result, we can at least be aware of them and try and keep our distance.