Manipulation techniques are a common tool psychopaths, sociopaths, narcissists and other types of predators use to exert control over their victims.

We all use manipulation at some point in our lives, whether it be telling a little white lie to get out of a situation, or using flattery to get what we want. For some people, however, using manipulation is a way of life, and their first weapon in an arsenal of techniques to overpower their victims.

Who is at risk from a predator?

Predators use a range of manipulation techniques in order to control their victims, but they often target certain types of personalities. This is because they want to be able to easily manipulate a person, and particular vulnerabilities in a person lend themselves to manipulation. You are more likely to become a victim of a predator if you have low self-esteem, are naïve, easy to please, lack an assertive native and have no confidence in yourself.

Here are 20 of the most common manipulation techniques: 

1. Lying

Predators are constantly lying about practically everything in their life. They do this to wrong-foot their victim and confuse them. Lying is one of the manipulation techniques psychopaths typically use because they have no qualms about it.

2. Not telling the whole story

This is different to lying as a predator will often keep a key part of the story to themselves in order to put their victim at a disadvantage.

3. Frequent mood swings

Never knowing what mood your partner is going to be in when you get home, whether they’ll be happy or angry is a very useful tool to the predator. It keeps their victim off balance and makes them more malleable.

4. Love-bombing and devaluation

Narcissists typically use love bombing as a manipulation tactic, they will go on a charm offensive and get you hooked into thinking this is the best relationship ever, then they’ll drop you like a ton of bricks without explanation.

5. Punishment

This can include anything from constant nagging, shouting, the silent treatment, physical violence and mental abuse.

6. Denial

Often the simplest way a predator will manipulate a person is by denying the thing they are accused of ever happening.

7. Spinning the truth

How many times have politicians twisted the facts to suit themselves? This spinning of the truth is often used to disguise bad behaviour by predators such as sociopaths.

8. Minimising

Where a predator will try and play down their actions as not important or damaging and shift the blame onto the victim for overreacting.

9. Plays the victim

The manipulator will themselves take on the role of victim in order to gain sympathy and compassion from those around them. We as humans are naturally drawn to helping people when they are suffering.

10. Targets the victim

When a manipulator accuses the victim of wrongdoing, they are making the victim defend themselves whilst the predator is able to mask their own manipulation techniques. The focus is on the victim, not the accuser.

11. Positive reinforcement

This includes buying expensive presents, praising them, giving money, constantly apologizing for their behaviour, excessive charm and paying lots of attention.

12. Moves the goal posts

You might think you know where you stand with a person, but if they are constantly moving the goal posts in order to confuse you, then it’s likely you’re dealing with a predator.

13. Diversion

Diverting the conversation away from the perpetrator’s act and moving the conversation onto a different topic is a typical way predators manipulate their victims.

14. Sarcasm

A predator will often be sarcastic about their victim in front of others. They do this to lower the self-esteem of the victim and to show others how powerful they are.

15. Guilt tripping

Someone who manipulates will often guilt trip their victim by saying that they don’t care about them, or that they are selfish or their life is easy. It all helps to keep that person confused and anxious.

16. Flattery

Using charm, praise or flattering the victim is one way of gaining that person’s trust. The victim is naturally happy to receive such compliments but in doing do lowers their guard.

17. Playing the innocent card

A true manipulator will feign utmost shock and confusion at being accused of any wrongdoing. Their surprise is so convincing that the victim may question their own judgement.

18. Over the top aggression

Manipulators often use rage and aggression to shock their victim into submission. The anger is also a tool to shut down any further conversation on the topic as the victim is scared but focused now on controlling the anger, not the original topic.

19. Isolation

It is far easier to keep a person under control if they are isolated from family members and friends who could shed some light and truth on the situation.

20. Feigns love and empathy

Predators such as psychopaths and sociopaths do not know how to love someone other than themselves, and cannot feel empathy, but they can pretend to in order to inveigle others into their lives.

If you watch out for the above manipulation techniques, you can keep yourself out of a predator’s clutches.



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This Post Has 17 Comments

  1. R Porter

    This is all a bit generic and sweeping. This article was used against me whilst suffering with depression to with which a lot of those traits coincide, but in no way part of my character to be manipulative or predatory.

    1. Carl M.

      This is to say in general predators use these.
      Predator = These tactics
      These tactics dont = predator.

    2. sparrow

      I agree with R. Porter.

      1. clear mind

        there is a name for thing “psychotic depressive disorder” – it allready sayes it all!

    3. shemena knights

      i feel you R. Porter, we weren’t born to fail, educated and strong minded people observe more and speak less

  2. Siri The Virtual Assistant

    Can’t you keep those stuffs as our secret weapon?!???

    1. shemena knights

      not at all SIRI, it doesn’t take anything out of a candle to light the others, that is to say we cant sit back and watch others go through the things we went through, all we need is a little motivation and something that’s more important to us and we’re on our way to a better future. (usually the thing that’s more important to us is ourselves and our goals.)

  3. James

    This is literally just a list of regular human behavior. Literally everyone does these things whether they’re cognizant of it or not… This article implies that since predators do these things, then doing these things makes you a predator. Labeling people with derogatory labels (i.e crazy, stupid, predator) is probably one of the biggest manipulation techniques.

  4. Closed-Minded Stubborn and Selfish

    “psychopaths, sociopaths, narcissists, predators”

    and marketers, salespeople, law enforcement

  5. Jess C

    Is it also manipulation if the other person is always taking the blame when in an argument or being called off for cheating, doing/saying something bad, etc? If anyone can help me (my bff who is with that kind of guy) by answering please do I just wanna know if I’m overreacting or not

    1. shemena knights

      sweetheart follow your instinct, i know someone like that but u gotta be much smarter than that or he will use you, when we are in a position like that our self esteem are always low because we always thinks that we are the one that’s wrong and doubts our ability to think straight, they always want to make us confused, my advice to you is to find something that motivates you, find something that you are passionate about and once you find that something, go after it with all your heart, you will see that you can live without depending on someone else and all the drama that they have brought into your life, you will never feel like you have lost something important because what you will feel from being free and self sufficient was far worth it in the long run, don’t build your mind to resent him instead educate yourself on what you are going through so that you can be more aware of his motives and be better prepare to handle it without it affecting you, usually the manipulators knows very well that you are not strong minded so they take advantage of you so be prepared and look for all signs that they are manipulating you to be sure of yourself it will make the decision much easier and you will be able to move forward knowing that that wasn’t what was best for you.

  6. Kimberly

    The article wasn’t meant to be all inclusive but yes, a generalization of traits of a manipulator. If you manipulate your kids to clean their room by telling them they can’t watch a movie that night if they don’t do it, doesn’t mean you are evil (or fill in the blanks).

    Labels, in our society, do exist. It’s how we understand the world around us. Some are just harmless, like saying ‘these are foods that need to be refrigerated’ to those labels that are very harmful, and usually wrong like ‘fat people stink.’ While all people can stink, it’s not a fact that ALL fat people stink. And, who is to judge who is fat? See, they are just labels that don’t have to mean anything and don’t have to be facts.

    When you read an article like this and you personalize it, do you reflect on why? This article is meant to open your eyes to see if you might be used as a pawn by a manipulator that means to do you no good. Take what you will from it and, leave the rest.

    1. A jay Lee

      Article is also teaching the innocent how to be manipulative… Am I right or am I right lol

      1. shemena knights

        you sounds like a manipulator to me, and i’m never wrong sweetheart

  7. Bobbie Fries


  8. James T

    It all comes down to anger.

    Anger = Control + learned behavior

    This except gives you an understanding of a non-proactive approach to problems.
    However, we do have a right to not be exposed to such mongering of manipulation.

  9. Julie

    Thank you Janey. Super helpful information.

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