You may have experienced someone’s seemingly inauthentic ways of being overly likable and kind.
Though there was nothing wrong with the actions they took and the words they said, your intuition told you not to trust them. The scariest thing about the most skillful, and sociopathic, manipulators, is that there often seems to be nothing explicitly wrong with the actions they take and the words they say. Learning how to spot a master manipulator takes more than just guesswork.
A lesson any conscious, and skilled, manipulator learns early on, is one of always concealing their intentions. Being inconspicuous is a defining part of being manipulative. It is for this basic reason that all skilled manipulators are practiced in exercising patience. They are conscious of not going for the win in the perception of those who watch, as to not draw attention to their ulterior motives. They’re masterful at concealing their long term goals.
The more skilled the manipulator becomes, the longer their ploys will tend to be. The ones who are capable of causing you the most pain are the ones who you call close. The closer you perceive someone to be, the more sensitive information about you they’ll possess. They’ll be trusted more, and will be armed with an inordinate ability to cause harm.
A manipulator’s game thereby, is one of generating, storing, and not utilizing power until it’s time. The more skilled a manipulator grows to be, the fewer times they’ll be looking to utilize their power. They will collect, invest, and build. They’ll set themselves up to release everything they’ve got in one blow.
This article centers on a tendency of skilled manipulators to allow, and encourage, you to experience genuine victory. They’re the ones who will present ideas which will be legitimately beneficial to you. They will encourage your consecutive streak of victories, and in turn, you’ll perceive them to be a beneficial entity to have around. The goal, is to shine light onto a perhaps small piece to the puzzle of the manipulative mind. That piece, being one of concealment.
Below, are three patterns which seem to aid in concealing one’s manipulative tactics.
The Gold Medal Is Not What You Were Going After
We’re all blind to partaking in behavior which may be better for us than that in which we actually partake. As you read this, your posture may be slouched. From your own perspective, you were focused on reading the words on this page. If your posture was in fact sub-par, then your focus was redirected to that for just a little bit.
Manipulative individuals tend to utilize the fact that you may be blind to some aspects of life which you can benefit from. Though there is nothing wrong with the behavior itself, how malicious it turns out to be depends on what they divert your attention from, and where they divert it to.
A manipulative person would package the thing they want your attention to be redirected toward as a win for you, as it very well may be. They key however, is that they would benefit from you not partaking in the old, less beneficial, behavior any longer.
For example, a “friend” who is intimidated by your work output, and subsequent financial success, may attempt to slow it down. In an effort to slow your behavior while making you feel like you’re doing the right thing, they may present a healthy mindset as the “gold medal” for you to strive and achieve. They’ll present reasons why it may not be healthy to work 12 hour days, and that your trouble sleeping may have something to do with that fact. They’ll support you in your complaints of being tired and drained, and will encourage you to slow down and take care of yourself.
Their behavior would not inherently be wrong. However, they would serve to shift your focus from attempting to win at the game of attaining financial freedom, to attempting to win the game of maintaining a healthy mindset. The goal of maintaining a healthy mindset is a formidable one, and all should be encouraged to achieve that goal. It is thereby a believable “gold medal” for you to try and win. As you shift your focus to attaining the gold, the manipulative individual would use that opportunity to attain what you now perceive to be the silver.
In the example above, your “friend” may begin working a little harder, and start spending more time at the office. They’d open themselves up for the opportunity to overtake you in the game of gaining financial freedom. They’ll be motivated by the thought of you resting. Seemingly not taking their own advice, they’d continue to encourage you to do the “healthier” thing, while partaking in what they’ve suggested that you shouldn’t do.
Look out for people who try to change what you perceive to be a victory, and then encourage you to win at what they suggest. Even if the domain they suggest you should aim to win at is factually and undeniably better, your act of losing focus on the old domain may be exactly what they want you to do. As mentioned above, a tell tale sign of a manipulative individual utilizing this method is a hypocritical way of being. They won’t take their own advice.
A Continuous Streak of Wins
A common piece of advice given to someone who’s attempting to gain a promotion, is to work to get their boss one. If you focus all your efforts on making your boss look good, you’ll increase the chances that they move up in the organization. You’ll develop a good connection with that boss, and they’ll be likelier to bring you along for the ride up the corporate ladder. Other managers will be impressed with how loyal you are to your immediate supervisors, and will strive to have you for themselves.
A manipulative individual can act in a similar manner to achieve their goals. In their attempts to empower you to win larger battles, they’ll be perceived as a loyal assistant to your success. You’ll be likelier to invite them into your positive perception. As you win larger battles, they’ll be right there by your side, supporting you on your journey.
Once again, the behavior is not malicious in itself. The overall intention is what matters in the realm of manipulative individuals. Remember, they do, and act like, what normal, loyal, and friendly individuals do and act like. A person who supports your goals and places you in a position to win can be someone who genuinely loves you, or someone who strives to benefit from your success. The method of both parties would be eerily similar.
In an attempt to mask their intentions, skilled manipulators will be likelier to support you than not. They’ll let you win a series of games just so they can play the game a little longer.
To continue on with the example above, getting a promotion after supporting your boss in their own journey toward a promotion will provide you with more opportunities to harm them. You’ll be exposed to new individuals who you could focus on leeching off. The manipulative individual will support your wins, place their ego aside for the time being, and assess the situation from a new vantage point once you move up in success. From there, they may continue supporting you in your journey in an effort to benefit further, or may turn against you with newfound leverage.
They’ll Volunteer to Eat the Bruised Apple
Manipulative people seem to have a tuned understanding of knowing what others want in every moment. With their own overall goal being to get closer to you, they’ll often suppress their immediate desires in order to look out for yours.
On average, we seem to like those who sacrifice for us. Those who spend time helping us when they’re not required to are easy individuals to grow fond of. The ones who encourage us to have the last slice of pizza gain our respect. The friend who gives us the perfect apple only to eat the bruised one themselves, encourages us to pay them back in a bigger way down the line.
This understanding of desire as it pertains to certain contextual situations is a powerful tool to get people to softly open up to you. Manipulative individuals depend on the collection of each one of the seemingly insignificant instances of giving you the perfect apple whilst eating the bruised one. They seek to establish a trustworthy and noble character in your mind, all in order to get closer to what they seek.
Again, the disclaimer of intention being key is warranted. It can’t be stressed enough that manipulative individuals can’t be proven to be manipulative until they actually follow through with some sort of act which goes against your best interest and benefits themselves.
This article focused on providing insight into the mind of the manipulator as it attempts to generate enough power to damage your well-being later on down the line. These observations are by no means a tried and true method of unveiling manipulative individuals, but are simply an attempt to get a little bit closer to that point.