6 Manipulation Styles You Need to Know So You Can Protect Yourself

By Georgia


Last Updated: August 27, 2021

Manipulative people can be crafty, scheming and ruthless.

Some don't know how abusive and traumatic their behavior is, or the lasting impact it can have on others.

But most manipulators are well aware of their behavior and how damaging it is to their relationships and the mental and emotional well-being of their victims.

Manipulation is one tool out of many abusive traits, and a key sign of several behavioral and personality disorders, such as Antisocial Personality Disorder and Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Watch Out for These 6 Manipulative Behaviors

1. Shared Fault

Manipulative people have a way of making others at fault for their decisions or behavior.

This usually manifests as an outright refusal to accept fault as they make excuses and blame others for their actions. But some manipulators will admit a certain level of fault if they can rope other people into their blame game.

They believe if they fess up to their responsibility, they can use this against innocent people so those fools are at fault too, even when they have nothing to do with it.

Don't fall for this. Spreading blame around weakens the impact of the manipulator accepting responsibility for themselves. It makes them feel like they won by including others in their shenanigans.

It also gives them ammunition to bring up at a later time for why others behave badly, then treating them poorly. After all, now those people are “at fault” for these issues the manipulator committed on their own. 

2. Transactional Apologies

Manipulative people typically refuse to apologize for their bad behavior no matter how inappropriate their behavior is.

But some more skilled manipulators learn to make deals with apologies. They believe if they offer an apology for their wrongdoings they should get an apology in return, even if the other person has done nothing to be sorry about.

The manipulator will then invent a reason or pretend harm or offense for some small behavior on their victim's part to squeeze an undeserved apology out of them.

In their mind, this levels the playing field. It puts their actions on equal footing, lessening their crime and making the other person's behavior just as bad as theirs. They don't have an attitude or behavior problem if someone else behaves badly, too.

3. Caught In the Crosshairs

Manipulators have an uncanny ability to become a victim or target in any situation.

They can internalize any action or conversation, creating harm that demands an apology or offense that needs to be righted. Manipulative people will express dissatisfaction with just about anything someone does.

They become offended, disrespected or victimized by others just living their lives.

They have unreasonable expectations of others, and will request that others change their lives to accommodate the manipulator's sensitivities. Not doing so makes the target of manipulation a bully, disrespectful, abusive, and so on.

4. Personal Opinions

To a manipulator, others expressing their genuine thoughts, opinions or needs is somehow rude and disrespectful.

No one is allowed to share how they feel around a manipulator unless it agrees and supports what they feel on every front. A different opinion is a personal offense to a manipulator, and evidence of a personality defect or character flaw in another.

However, for the manipulator, sharing their thoughts, opinions or desires is just the truth and essential knowledge for everyone around them. Hypocrisy is basically a key part of a manipulator's core philosophy.

5. Chronic Pain

Manipulators are frequently offended, but confusingly, this is often because of their own actions.

Whether they genuinely can't understand the connection between their decisions and feelings, or are pretending to be injured, a surefire sign of a manipulator is constantly being hurt.

A sign of a malicious manipulator is that they can be hurt as a consequence of their own behavior. Let them know they are responsible for whatever transpired that hurt them so much, and point out the irony of them injuring themselves.

This will force them to accept responsibility or slip into blame shifting pretty quickly.

6. Spin Cycle

Manipulators are their own public relations representatives. They'll try to put a positive spin on their flaws, focusing on the benefits of their bad behavior rather than the terrible consequences.

Bad behavior (Being hurt, trying to control others) is explained away because they:

  • Care too much
  • Are people pleasers
  • Try too hard
  • Trust too easily
  • Are too open

Anything they do can be spun in their favor, using it to complain about and put others down for not being as good of people as they are.

Know What to Look for - and Don't Get Taken Advantage of

Manipulative people come in many forms but all tend to work from the same toolkit. You will find them:

  • excusing or justifying their wrongdoing
  • trying to scapegoat or make others at fault for their failings or flaws
  • constantly being offended and hurt by other people who are just living their lives

Even if a circumstance does genuinely affect them negatively or force them to take responsibility for themselves, a manipulator will take this personally. They will accuse others of abuse, bullying and targeting them.

Manipulation often begins by starting conflict, taking advantage of the chaos this causes, then feigning offense when the victims call out the manipulation or control tactics.

Some manipulators believe forewarning of their bad behavior absolves them of their responsibility to be a better person. “You know how I am,” “You know how I get,” and, “You knew this was going to happen,” do not justify abusive or reckless behavior.

And manipulators need to suffer the consequences of their actions if they are ever to stop their outrageous acts.

Photo by christian ferrer on Unsplash


7 comments on “6 Manipulation Styles You Need to Know So You Can Protect Yourself”

  1. Thank You, I can now take and embrace responsibly the role I played in Manlpulation. Now I balance with clarity my desires.Psalms 25,26, 3:5-6, Romans 8:17, Hebrews 11, Rev. 12:10-11, Romans 12:1-2.

  2. This is EXACTLY how a manipulative narcissist behaves! Excellent article!
    Thanks for sharing this information with the world!

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