Sometimes people try to take advantage of you, without you realizing it until it's too late. But there are hidden clues in many manipulative and exploitative situations that can help you spot them and get away as soon as possible.
People often use sneaky phrases and tactics to convince you to do what they want. Learning to spot these common phrases can help you avoid manipulation and protect your emotional well-being.
Here are 18 common phrases people use to try to manipulate you:
1. “You should be grateful for what I've done for you.”
People can use this phrase to make you feel indebted and manipulate you into getting something in return. It can be used by a friend who has done you a favor or by an employer who has given you a promotion.
It can make you feel uncomfortable about not expressing enough gratitude and can cause you to make additional concessions that you would not have made otherwise.
2. “I can't believe you really think that about me.”
A person may use this phrase to make you feel guilty and manipulate you into changing your mind. This can be used by someone who has done something wrong and does not want to be held accountable for their actions.
3. “It's for your own good.”
This phrase is often used to justify abusive or controlling behavior. It can be used by a parent who is trying to limit their child's freedom or by a jealous partner who wants to control who you spend time with. It is an insidious way to make you believe that something is good for you, even if it is actually bad for you.
4. “It's your fault.”
This phrase can be used by someone who wants to avoid taking responsibility for their own actions or to make you accept responsibility for their mistakes. It is a way to make you feel uncomfortable and to manipulate you into getting what the person wants.
5. “Everyone does it.”
This phrase is usually used to make you conform to behavior that may not be acceptable or safe.
The person may use it to get you to take risks or engage in unhealthy behavior. It is a way to make you feel that you are somehow behind or missing out if you don't follow through.
6. “Why can't you just listen to what I say?”
When someone uses this phrase, they are often trying to make you feel that you are not smart enough or not paying attention. They are trying to get you to accept their point of view without questioning or critical thinking.
7. “I love you, but…”
Often this phrase is used to justify abusive or controlling behavior. It can be used by a partner who is physically or emotionally abusing you.
The person may say that they love you, but this does not justify their behavior. It is a way to make you believe that their love is conditional and that you must make concessions to stay with them.
8. “I'm just being honest.”
This phrase is often used to justify mean or critical behavior. It can be used by someone who insults or ridicules others under the guise of being honest. It is a way of making you believe that their behavior is acceptable or justified, even though it may be hurtful or malicious.
9. “I tried to be lenient with you, but…”
This is another one of those common phrases that people use to manipulate you, often your superiors at work or even a love partner who has become abusive.
This is a way of saying that someone “tried” to see the best in you and treat you well, but you forced their hand to treat you harshly or be strict with you.
This is basically blaming the victim in most cases and is usually the kind of thing someone says before they exploit or abuse you in some way.
10. “You haven't changed at all.”
This phrase pushes you to not be who you are and somehow show that you have actually changed (hint: it's by doing what the other person wants or agreeing with them).
11. “Let me handle it, don't worry.”
This is a phrase that often implies some kind of manipulation. It could be said by someone you know well or someone you just met. They are trying to get you to give up control or involvement, which can be dangerous or harmful to you.
12. “Stop trying to control me.”
When someone uses this phrase, they are often trying to make you feel that you are in the wrong. They are trying to get you to give up your opinion or feelings, which can be a form of emotional manipulation.
13. “Is everything okay?”
When someone uses this phrase, they are often trying to make you believe that everything is normal and that everything is fine. The person is trying to minimize problems or conflicts, which can be a form of emotional manipulation.
This is often a gaslighting phrase unless it is used to check on you after someone has apologized and you have accepted it.
14. “You won't regret it!”
When someone promises you that you won't regret something, it's usually because there's a good chance you will.
This usually means that you have been dragged into something that is not necessarily in your best interest and are now being told to relax.
15. “You're crazy.”
This is usually a gaslighting technique. When someone uses this phrase, they are often trying to make you believe that your feelings or thoughts are not valid. They are trying to minimize your opinion or point of view, which can be a form of emotional manipulation.
16. “You don't understand.”
Of course, it is possible that you really don't understand anything. There are many situations where clarification and knowing more about what is going on can be helpful. But this is often used in ways that manipulate someone and make them feel inferior.
If you are often told that you don't understand, keep in mind that this is often a way to simply be pushed into accepting someone else's version of reality.
17. “You pushed me to do it.”
This is a classic form of gaslighting. It takes different forms such as the literal version above or iterations like “I wouldn't have done it if you weren't so…” or “I've never been like this before you…”
Ultimately, you are blamed for someone else's behavior or choices.
18. “Calm down!”
This is one of those common phrases that people use to manipulate you.
“Calm down!” is very effective because it's a way to get the upper hand in an argument. If someone tells you to calm down, it usually shows that they have succeeded in upsetting you and making you lose your balance.
Telling you to “calm down” is their way of mocking you and telling you that you are losing your temper and should leave.
- 1. “You should be grateful for what I've done for you.”
- 2. “I can't believe you really think that about me.”
- 3. “It's for your own good.”
- 4. “It's your fault.”
- 5. “Everyone does it.”
- 6. “Why can't you just listen to what I say?”
- 7. “I love you, but…”
- 8. “I'm just being honest.”
- 9. “I tried to be lenient with you, but…”
- 10. “You haven't changed at all.”
- 11. “Let me handle it, don't worry.”
- 12. “Stop trying to control me.”
- 13. “Is everything okay?”
- 14. “You won't regret it!”
- 15. “You're crazy.”
- 16. “You don't understand.”
- 17. “You pushed me to do it.”
- 18. “Calm down!”
I'm a big fan of short stories about people – I'm a pro at tech and smartphones, serial literature, and writing in my spare time.