Most of us like to believe that the world is full of well-meaning people who would never dream of exploiting others.
Unfortunately, we will all come across fake, manipulative individuals from time to time.
The good news is that you can avoid becoming a victim if you understand the signs that someone is trying to take advantage of you or just make your life miserable.
Watch out for the following:
1. They subtly put you down to undermine your confidence
When someone has little self-confidence, they are easier to manipulate.
Be wary if someone tries to insult you, undermine you, or question your capabilities for no good reason.
2. They put you under pressure to make decisions
If you only have a few hours or even minutes in which to make a decision, you probably aren’t in a position to weigh up all your options.
Manipulative people know this, which is why they ask you to make important decisions at short notice.
When you feel stressed out, they have the upper hand, and can influence your choice in a way that wouldn’t be possible under normal circumstances.
3. They ask for small favors, then build up to unreasonable demands
Manipulative people are normally smart enough to realize that if they make an outrageous request out of the blue, you will give them a straightforward “No.”
On the other hand, if they begin by asking for seemingly innocuous favors, you will become accustomed to helping them.
Gradually, you will start to automatically say “Yes” or “Of course” any time they claim to need help.
4. They suddenly seem unusually caring and concerned about your wellbeing
It’s great to have support in times of need, but you should be on your guard if someone who is usually indifferent or hostile towards you starts making a point of looking out for your best interests.
The harsh reality is that they are probably trying to manipulate you in some way by giving you help or support you never asked for.
They may then try to guilt trip you later on by saying things like, “After all I’ve done for you, how could you reject me and treat me so badly?”
5. They play down their skills or knowledge
When a manipulative person wants to be excused from their duties, they might act dumb.
Although you know that they are perfectly capable, their supposed helplessness means you have to take on responsibility for their work or even in maintaining relationships on their behalf.
6. They like to play the victim
Some fake people try to earn sympathy by acting as though the world is against them, that they face a unique set of problems, and that their suffering is in some way special or unique.
By convincing everyone that they have a terrible life, they are in a position to demand special treatment. In truth, many of their stories are probably made up, or at least exaggerated.
Don’t let someone exploit your good nature.
7. They try to foster a sense of intimacy by encouraging you to overshare
Fake people will often ask you a lot of questions about your life and your problems.
This allows them to detect your weaknesses and vulnerabilities, which will prove useful in manipulating you later.
Until you have had time to assess someone’s character, be cautious when choosing a confidante.
8. They use lots of jargon, or bombard you with information
If a manipulative person can confuse you, they have the upper hand.
Be wary of anyone who seems fond of jargon, obscure references, or complex ideas that aren’t relevant to the conversation.
If they patronize you or make you feel stupid, don’t assume that you’re missing an important piece of information;
they may just be trying to leave you feeling disoriented.
9. They use the silent treatment to force you to talk
This is one of the easiest tactics to spot.
If you don’t engage with a manipulator, they may abruptly pull away and stop talking to you instead of working with you to address the underlying issue.
This strategy forces you to approach them, thus placing the burden of emotional labor on you.
How to deal with manipulative people
Once you know the signs, spotting insincere people becomes quite easy.
In fact, you’ll start seeing them everywhere. Boundaries are key to protecting yourself.
Make it clear, via your actions and words, that you will not tolerate bad behavior.
They will soon learn that they cannot manipulate you.
Remember, you deserve to be treated with respect at all times.