17 signs that someone is a manipulator

Protecting yourself from manipulation
17 hints that someone is a manipulator



Not every attempt to manipulate us is obvious. Especially the professional manipulators learn how to hide their intentions. Unfortunately, there are a lot of those manipulators in business and private life. Learn how to recognize manipulators.



Manipulators are unfair and always their focus is on their interests. They’re looking for advantages for themselves even when they are lead to huge disadvantages for others

You can meet a lot of manipulators every day.




17 signs to recognize a manipulator


The easiest way to recognize the manipulator is by trusting your gut feeling. With a good portion of self-reflection, you know yourself, and therefore you realize an upcoming gut feeling. Because your gut feeling is based on a lot of experience and many factors like body language, it can signal when it’s time to have a closer look at the intention and behavior of someone.




17 typical signs that someone may be in a manipulator



1. Liars


The most experienced manipulators are well-trained liars. Therefore, they are excellent at hiding their intentions. It was really hard to get done. They know how to hide the typical signs of manipulation.




2. Exaggerated openness


Manipulators often behave as if they are very open-minded and willing to reveal everything you ask about. This way, they want to look more honest than they are. So manipulators want to get other people to reveal more about themselves. If they have the opportunity, then they can exploit that for themselves shamelessly.




3. Appeal to the conscience


Manipulators regularly refer to values ​​that are important to their victims. The values ​​are then used to develop compassion and concern for something in the interests of the manipulator. Who wants to violate his values?




4. Promoting guilt feelings


Manipulators do not take responsibility for anything, except when it is beneficial as a trick. In other people, however, they promote guilt feelings. Those who have guilty feelings are more restrained. Anyone who feels guilty does not pay much attention to their own needs, and feels obligated. Even the physiology of guilty feelings disturbs the inner balance. And manipulators know how to get us there.

While most people are still researching to find out what a Double Bind is, manipulators are already using it masterfully. If it were not so mean, we could admire such nasty people for their abilities. But such behavior leads to the dark side of power.




5. They appear empathetic


Manipulators make compliments that are one size too big, but who cares? The flattery of the ego is gladly accepted. The aftertaste is ignored. If it fits their plans, they are the most pleasant conversation partners. Well-versed manipulators anchor good conditions right from the beginning so that we can enjoy their closeness and goodwill. Then we do not want to miss this anymore. Manipulators close the trap slowly and imperceptibly.

Manipulators know the vulnerabilities of their chosen victims and use them without inhibitions. At first, it may feel as if the manipulator is particularly attentive and interested. But then openness becomes a personal disadvantage.

The less their potential victims practice self-reflection, the easier it will be for manipulators. Those who know their sore spots, let them heal and pay attention to themselves.




6. Twisting the facts


Manipulators are twisting the facts so much that we even develop doubts about where we were previously safe. The technique of reframing is in their toolbox, and they know to bend the reality in their interest.




7. They stage themselves as victims


Manipulators hurt other people and they should apologize for that. Nasty influencers like to make themselves victims. Anyone who stages himself as a victim enjoys some protection. Alleged victims hide as such. It also increases the pressure on observers. Who will be the victim of the common?




8. They make thinking difficult


Manipulators do a lot to prevent clear thinking. By doing so, they want to ensure that nobody recognizes their bad intentions. Manipulators use confusion, distraction, and indignation.




9. Egocentricity


Manipulators only have their interests in mind. If other people play a role, then only if it serves the interests of the manipulator.




10. The exploitation of good nature


Manipulators use good nature. Natural inhibitions are unimportant to them. Even small symbolic concessions are abused by them.




11. Lack of distance


Manipulators ignore the healthy need for privacy. They cross borders. In this way, they bring other people out of balance.




12. Authenticity


Manipulators know what we want to hear, or what makes us do what they want. It usually takes some time to realize that manipulators are untrustworthy. They do not walk the talk. Statements and actual behavior do not match. Honest people, promises are sacred. Manipulators only know their interests.



13. Name-dropping


Manipulators tend to become more important. They use titles, and names of famous people they allegedly know and show all kinds of status symbols.




14. False helpfulness


They like to appear helpful, but at best they expect a multiple of interest if they help. Everything is just a means to an end and when they have their foot in the door, it starts.



15. Linguistic fluency


Linguistic fluency is quite a valued skill. But it can be abused by manipulators. The basic tool for the manipulation of reality is the manipulation of language. Clear communication is avoided and the answers to questions are often evasive.




16. Gut feeling


We rarely trust the gut feeling, but it often announces quite early when something is wrong. Then the facts are missing, and therefore we do not trust the feeling. It is worthwhile to take a closer look at such cases. The gut feeling is based on experience and takes into account subtle clues that the conscious does not notice.




17. Additional perspectives


Involve people you trust and then form your own opinion. Find out who probably does not have your well-being in mind.




How to protect yourself from manipulation


To protect yourself from manipulators, it is important to know yourself, your values, ​​and your priorities. Anyone who can recognize clues about the properties of a manipulator can learn to deal with such people and their manipulation attempts.

How? Read the article Stop it, I hate that: Recognize the 11 most common manipulation techniques.

Preparation of important conversations and negotiations


Communication can be very easy. But often it is not. Sometimes we say things and then later notice from the reaction of our conversation partners that they seem to have spoken to someone completely different. I didn't say that with the best will in the world. - Or did I say that after all?

More or less consciously, conversations are about convincing other people of something - be it a special offer, your personality, a perspective, or a necessity. If this doesn't happen fast enough and above all not exactly to the point and descriptively, the person we are talking to quickly loses interest, and we lose the hoped-for opportunity. — Conversation failed.

You can let me support you in the preparation of your conversations and negotiations (to be on the safe side: no legal advice!). Find out how you and your message are perceived (arguments, body language, language, voice, and much more). I will familiarize you with effective tools and communication strategies. Develop your psychological skills, learn to stay calm, act confidently, remain authentic, and finally convince.

Just ask me personally


Please post any questions that may be of interest to other readers in the comments. Looking for professional help?

If you are interested in coaching, training or consulting, if you have organizational questions, or if you want to make an appointment, you can reach me best via this contact form (you can choose if you want to enter your personal data) or via e-mail (mail@karstennoack.com). You can also reach me by phone at +49(0)30 864 213 68 or by cell phone at +49(0)1577 704 53 56 from Monday to Thursday from 9:00 to 18:00. Most of the time I am in sessions, so please leave a message with your phone number in Germany. Please remember to be very specific about the reason for your call. I will get back to you as soon as possible. The privacy policy can be found here.

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Frequently asked questions

What is manipulation?

Manipulative behavior is defined as the covert exertion of influence. When manipulating people, manipulative contemporaries want to influence the perception, thinking and actions of target persons as unnoticed as possible.

What are manipulators?

Manipulators are persons who manipulate. They do this by direct or subliminal influence in order to trigger or control certain behaviors.

Is manipulation bad?

Manipulation is considered negative when the needs, goals and benefits of target persons are not respected.



How do you recognize a manipulator?


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This article is a short excerpt from the more comprehensive course materials my clients receive in a group or individual training or coaching.

Published: June 27, 2009
Author: Karsten Noack
Revision: August 20th, 2023
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German version:

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