Executive Education

How to Identify Manipulators and Handle Them?

Kind-hearted people are often manipulated and cheated by manipulative people. Being kind and compassionate is treated as a weakness and is taken for granted by manipulators.

Tips to Identify Manipulative People 

You must understand the difference between authentic and manipulative people. There is a thin line separating them. Here are some tips to identify manipulative people and keep them at a distance. There is no consistency between their intentions and actions, between their words and deeds, and between their body language and oral language.

They are cowardly aggressive personalities and phonies. They are different and indifferent towards others’ egos, emotions, and feelings. They are extremely task-oriented and pushy with the least concern for others. They attack the sentiments of their loved and trusted ones to accomplish their goals. They are takers, selfish, and often think of what they will get.

They are overambitious and cut corners. They benefit from short-term gains but lose long-term gains. They gaslight others and blackmail them emotionally. They play a victim card. They target people pleasers and adopt different strategies and tactics to manipulate others. They twist the facts and figures and present them to suit their selfish goals.

Manipulators Wear Multiple Masks

Manipulators exploit others’ insecurities and sensitivities for their ends. At times, they are sadistic by nature. They appear to be service-oriented externally but self-centered internally.

If you surround yourself with them, you lose your credibility. A person is judged by the books s/he reads, the way s/he dresses, and the friends s/he maintains. So, don’t associate with manipulative people. They don’t take responsibility for their actions. They often blame others and circumstances. They are part of the problem, not the solution. They talk politely and pleasingly to exploit others. They are expert communicators. They can build instant rapport through mirroring techniques.

They talk lengthy without listening to you. They often dominate the discussion. They are naysayers and toxic. They speak half-truths and create guilt feelings in others to blackmail them emotionally. They bully others and scapegoat others. They keep profit before the people. They understand human psychology well and exploit it for their personal gains and pleasures.

They gossip a lot and carry forward your secrets and information to others. They look like saints before you but backbite you. They are one-upmanship experts and appear to be perfectionists. They don’t respect others’ boundaries. They emphasize win-lose, not win-win. They don’t respect others’ privacy and space. They encourage abusive relationships.

Some of the manipulative people evolve as manipulative leaders who sway the people for their personal and professional gains. They know mob psychology and carry the people along with them. People don’t realize their tactics initially and follow them due to their charisma but realize later and discard them forever.

How to Handle Manipulators? 

Manipulators take love for granted and exploit their lovers. By the time, lovers realize their mistakes, it is too late.

Don’t give your life remote to manipulators to control you. Keep your life remote with you. Don’t let them predict your behavior. Don’t let them control you. If you come across them, get away from them. The best punishment to manipulators is to ignore them. Don’t react unnecessarily. Be assertive. Self-love is the solution. Don’t look for validation and approval from others because you know your true worth better than anybody else on the earth. Set your boundaries. Understand basic psychology to guard against manipulators.

Focus on the Brightness of Your Own Light

Avoid manipulators. Leave them forever, if possible. Don’t become a soft target. Don’t become a punching bag. Adopt soft skills to handle them effectively. Learn lessons from your mistakes. Become wiser with bitter experiences from manipulators. In fact, manipulators are the best teachers because they teach you how to lead your life mindfully.

Life is an Echo

You get what you give. If you manipulate others, you will be manipulated in the end. It is like karma. Hence, overcome the attitude of manipulating others for your ends. Life is short. Make it sweet. Don’t make false promises. Don’t break your commitment. Walk your talk. Lead by example to leave your mark for others to follow.

Manipulative People are Worse than Naysayers

As you stay away from naysayers you must stay away from manipulative people forever. Manipulators wear multiple masks and thrive at the cost of others. Don’t suffer silently.  Be assertive. Be diplomatic with them if you have to with work them. To conclude, manipulative people may have everything during their life journey but will have nothing at the end of their life journey.


Written by Professor M.S. Rao, Ph.D.

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Professor M.S. Rao, Ph.D.
Professor M.S. Rao, Ph.D. is the Father of “Soft Leadership” and the Founder of MSR Leadership Consultants, India. He is an International Leadership Guru with forty years of experience and the author of fifty books including the award-winning See the Light in You: Acquire Spiritual Powers to Achieve Mindfulness, Wellness, Happiness, and Success (Waterside Productions; January 16, 2020). He is a C-Suite advisor and global keynote speaker. He brings a strategic eye and long-range vision given his multifaceted professional experience including military, teaching, training, research, consultancy, and philosophy. He is passionate about serving and making a difference in the lives of others. He trains a new generation of leaders through leadership education and publications. His vision is to build one million students as global leaders by 2030. He has the vision to share his knowledge freely with one billion people globally. He advocates gender equality globally (#HeForShe). He was ranked #1 Thought Leader and Influencer in HR globally by Thinkers360. He invests his time in authoring books and blogging on executive education, learning, and leadership. Most of his work is available free of charge on his four blogs including Vision 2030: One Million Global Leaders. He is a prolific author and a dynamic, energetic, and inspirational leadership speaker. Professor M.S. Rao, Ph.D. is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. Follow him on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.