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The manipulator and the people-pleaser…Signs of Manipulation and Manipulative behaviour

    The manipulator and people-pleaser

    The manipulator and people-pleaser - signs of manipulation & manipulative behaviour

    This post is for you if you are struggling with people who try to get you to do what they want.  The manipulator and people-pleaser, people who bully, coerce and manipulate you against your will. You may be in this situation at work, at home or with family and friends. Manipulation can come into play anywhere, sometimes we don’t realise that it is being done to us.

    Despite all our experiences, we can still find that on occasion we can still be sucked in, by a comment or a way of speaking that draws us into a conversation and a dialogue aimed to help the other person to get something that they wanted, something which goes against our better judgement. 

    The Manipulator

    People who use controlling and influencing techniques to achieve what they want often to the detriment of others. Often extremely selfish people are unrealistic about their own insecurities and often have high expectations of others.

    The people-pleaser

    Very kind, very nice and very helpful people. Often struggling to say no, they are happy to help other people which can often be to the detriment of themselves. Using subtle and discrete signals to help or manoeuvre a situation and be tactful, they aim to do good without deliberately looking to benefit themselves. 

    Manipulators often twist and turn the facts to suit themselves.  Somehow they learn how to ‘look’ in a certain way, a way that without uttering a sound, expresses their disappointment and disapproval. A way that leaves the other person quite certain that they have done something wrong, sometimes without a clue of what that might be.

    Some people just know exactly how to ‘get round’ certain people, they know the triggers to get what they want in life.  A ‘little white lie’, that’s OK isn’t it, occasionally?


    Girl looking at laptop on stomach looking like she may have lied

    Using what can sometimes be called underhand and crafty tactics to gain ‘personal power’ and control for their own benefit. Manipulators can play on your good nature and weakness to get what they want. If you ever find yourself apologising for something, they have done to you, you may have been manipulated!

    Manipulation & manipulative behaviour

    We all know what it feels like to be manipulated. It’s happened to the best of us. When we really understand what has happened, manipulation can feel deceitful and underhand.  It can be extremely effective for the manipulator, which is why some people just keep doing it, it works.

    Manipulators can be very skilful, they often ‘try you out’, see what works, what gets the best reaction, then boom! They’ve found the key button to press, off they go using you for their personal gain, more often than not, you don’t know what is happening. So, it’s a very good thing to spot the signs before it’s too late.

    1. Manipulators love to make you feel guilty!

    Worried woman looking at phone

    Manipulators seek out your weaknesses to their advantage. They see kindness as a weakness and see you as easy pray.

    They have an unscrupulous way of getting round you and if you do not agree to all their demands, they have a way of turning things round, you then feel guilty, even though you’ve done your best to help them.  

    Guilt is a very damaging negative emotion. Guilt can be used for punishment and control, using guilt can be extremely influential and powerful. 

    Portrait of upset woman2. Manipulators love nothing more than making you the victim.

    Psychological manipulation can cause you to feel like a victim.  

    Being a victim is very damaging for us. If we are being cajoled into being an emotional victim to suit the manipulator, we can find ourselves feeling bad and sorry for ourselves.

    When you realise they are trying to make you into a victim, it automatically changes your view of them and you feel stronger. 

    Woman looking directly at camera

    3. When it suits them, manipulators play the victim role themselves.

    It really is a game to them.

    Whatever the situation, they aim to make you feel bad and sorry for them. If you actually do as they want, or even don’t do as they want, either way it’s misery from hell.
    Whether they do, or don’t do, something you get the blame.

    They expect you to take on the responsibility for how they feel, regardless of what’s gone on. How can that be right?

    When the manipulator wants to play the victim, they are requiring that you feel sorry for them.  They are looking for you to be soft and kind, so they can win sympathy.

    Couple in bed arguing

    4. Manipulators will never let you win, don’t even try.

    You probably know this already, never attempt to debate or argue with a manipulator. They need to be in control, they need to be right. The feeling of control helps them to feel superior, better than you. Internally they feel validated and powerful when they think they are winning.  

    If you even try to discuss, let alone argue with them, the manipulator will tell everyone in ear shot that you are wrong, you are the one trying to make them look bad, you are to blame. 


    Two girls close talking together

    5. Manipulators will make you believe that they are on your side.

    A manipulator will listen to your story, take it all in, make you buy into them and get you to share more with them. All this information is stored up, saved for a rainy day, for when they want to wield power over you. 
    When you need their help – too bad, it’s not going to happen unless in fact you pay a high price.

    Manipulators have you think you have lost your mind. They want you think that your version of reality simply didn’t happen.

    As they know all your weaknesses, they know how you feel about yourself, your own self-esteem, confidence and how to press your buttons.

    They hold power to threaten and expose you as and when they like. It’s almost as if its a ticking time bomb – only they hold the key.


    Protecting yourself from people who manipulate can be hard


    Ever found yourself suddenly deep in these kind of manipulative situations?

    The Identification?

        • Perhaps someone is trying a tactic to get you to do something for them, to pay for something they want, to put you out, something you don’t feel comfortable with, or to do something you don’t want to do.
        • They aim to get you to identify with their issue, their problem, so as to make you feel empathy for them. They may tell you that ‘they can’t afford this or that’ ‘they can’t achieve what they want’. All in order to make you want to help them.
        • Watch out  –  do you feel good about this? Your feelings will tell you. If not look out for how you share your weakness and kindness.

    The victim language?

        • Sometimes the manipulator may suck up to the boss or to mum and dad, whine and grumble, until they get what they want and then it starts all over again with the next thing.
        • They may be jealous and envy other people. They compare themselves to everyone and everything, they talk repeatedly about what they don’t and can’t have. Are you expected to make up for it? 
        • Watch out – are you being encouraged to feel guilty? Are you being made to think you have done something wrong?

    The super sugary nice?


        • In this scenario, they are so very nice to you. They may do a kindness for you, something nice. They may flatter and compliment you. They are too much, too soon. 
        • However, be careful, they may want a lot back. It’s often like an insurance policy for which you owe a debt. You may feel obligated to help, to do more than you expected, more than you have time for.  The trouble is, it’s never enough, their demands keeps on coming.
        • Watch out – How can you stop? When is enough? Will you be the one to break the chain?

    What can you do? How to protect yourself if you face these manipulation tactics? 

    In healthy normal relationships and interactions, we are compassionate, kind and caring and want to do what we can to help, if we feel the request is appropriate and we would like to help.  

      1. However, if we feel we are being taken advantage of, do we give in and agree, give them what they are looking for? It’s quite likely the manipulator will know that you find it hard to say no.

      2. When we identify with another person’s negative emotions, we feel sorry for them and we feel uncomfortable. This does not make it our job to fix them at a our cost.

      3. If you are made to feel guilty, ask them in a very pleasant voice “Are you trying to make me feel guilty” wait for the response, if they say “no” and they try it on again, then ask the same question””Are you trying to make me feel guilty”. Let the manipulator know this tactic will no longer work on you.

      4. Remember that you are not responsible for other peoples feelings. How they feel is a matter for them.

      5. Set up healthy emotional boundaries, stand back, define your goals in advance as best you can before hand – be prepared for what you might say, this will make you feel better.

      6. Be calm, strong, in control, help them to see that you know what you want and don’t want. Help them to see where you draw the line.

      7. Disengage, let them speak, reply politely, continue with how you want to move forward.

      8. Be aware of how you are feeling, rather than what they are saying.

      9. Don’t try to win, don’t bother trying to beat them, you won’t win. Try to recognise what they are up to, if possible remove yourself from the situation as soon as you can.

      10. Be compassionate without identifying with someone else’s emotions. Give them sympathy, but know when you are ready to stop.

    When the manipulator realises their tactics and games are no longer working on you, things might get more difficult. They may try to get what they want from you using more desperate and underhand methods, or they may move on to another target, someone else.

    At this point you may decide that you don’t want to spend time with this person. If it is someone that you live or work with and you decide it is not possible to change this arrangement, it may be time to learn how to deal with this behaviour.

    “If”   – Rudyard Kipling says,

    “If you can keep your head, when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you; … you’ll be a man, my son.” 

    Man on balcony, sipping coffee looking at mountains


    How RTT can help 

    In a Rapid Transformation Therapy (RTT) session we access and treat the root cause of an issue, a need or problem.

      • RTT is a gentle and relaxing therapy that helps you to understand your self-limiting beliefs.

      • RTT helps those who are struggling with how to respond to difficult people and manipulative situations, stopping them from living the live they want.

      • RTT enables clients to question their thoughts about people-pleasing. How and why the client responds to difficult people and controlling tactics in certain ways and how this leaves them feeling uncomfortable.

      • Clients are able to pinpoint an event in their past where their  ‘need to please’ behaviour started and developed. 

      • RTT gives understanding and empowerment; it helps people to identify how they are being held back by their painful past events and enables them to find freedom from those past events.

      • For clients who want to move forward, want to live their life without unnecessary guilt or bad feelings RTT can help


    RTT gives you the secret to
    feeling great about yourself.

    You learn how you react and
    respond to people who want
    to knock your confidence. 

    You gain awareness as you
    transform your thinking about
    your self-esteem,
    self-worth and self-concept. 

    Woman in office clothes smiling

    If you have identified with some of the points above and would like help with ‘responding to manipulators and difficult people’ please contact me, request a free chat using the button below

    What’s next?

    Please feel free to contact me if you are finding it hard to ‘stand up to manipulators’  Just press the button below to arrange a free, no obligation 30 minutes chat. 

    Look after yourself, Joanna x

    Related articles:
    How do you stop thinking you’re not good enough?
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