Manipulation can be difficult to identify, especially if the person doing it is a master of disguise.
It’s all about control and getting what they want, often without revealing their true intentions.
Covert manipulators are adept at using language to subtly influence or control your actions.
They know just the right words to say that will make you doubt yourself.
To help you identify these crafty individuals, I’ve compiled a list of phrases they commonly use.
By recognizing these phrases, you may be able to spot a manipulator before it gets under your skin.
Let’s take a look at the “9 phrases regularly used by secret manipulators”.
It’s time to arm ourselves with knowledge against these cunning interlocutors.
1) “You’re too sensitive”
In any relationship, personal or professional, respect for someone’s feelings and emotions is crucial.
However, covert manipulators have a knack for dismissing your feelings as overly sensitive or overreactive.
This is a classic gaslighting technique.
Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation in which the manipulator makes you doubt your feelings, instincts, and sanity.
If someone tells you, “You’re too sensitive,” he or she is trying to invalidate your feelings.
Instead of addressing the problem, they push it back on you. It is an attempt to make you doubt your reactions and emotions.
By doing this, they shift the blame onto you and take away your ability to respond effectively.
It’s a powerful manipulation tactic because it can make you feel like you’re the problem, not them.
The key to combating this is recognizing it for what it is: manipulation.
Your feelings are valid, and anyone who tries to tell you otherwise may be trying to control or influence you in an unhealthy way.
2) “I was just kidding”
Covert manipulators have a knack for using humor as a disguise for their hurtful comments.
It’s a tactic I’ve personally experienced.
I remember a friend who had the habit of making derogatory comments about my appearance.
When I confronted him, his usual response was, “I was just kidding.”
He made it sound like I was the one overreacting or not having a sense of humor.
But here’s the catch: these so-called jokes were often at my expense and had an underlying tone of criticism.
These ‘jokes’ were his way of undermining my self-confidence without having to take responsibility for his words.
The phrase “I was just kidding” is a manipulator’s shield, allowing him or her to say hurtful things without being blamed.
It’s their way of passing the buck onto you because you can’t take a joke.
Recognizing this pattern is the first step in dealing with such covert manipulation.
Humor should make you feel good, not bad about yourself.
3) “I hate drama”
Ironically, they are often the ones who constantly claim to ‘hate drama’.
It’s a classic manipulation tactic that covert manipulators use to portray themselves as innocent and above any conflict or dispute.
In reality, they may be the ones causing the drama behind the scenes.
They create chaos and then sit back and play the role of the bewildered bystander who has no idea how things got so out of hand.
A study by University of California psychologists found that individuals who regularly engage in manipulative self-promotion and create conflict tend to use phrases like “I hate drama” as a way to deny their role in creating it .
By recognizing this phrase for what it is – a technical deflection – you can begin to see through the manipulator’s disguise and understand his true intentions.
4) “Trust me”
Trust is something that must be earned over time through actions, not just words.
However, hidden manipulators often use the phrase “trust me” as a way to gain your trust quickly and without any merit.
This phrase is a red flag, especially if it is used frequently or in situations where trust has not yet been established.
It’s an attempt to bypass your natural skepticism and let you lower your guard.
Manipulators use this phrase to make you feel safe, to make you believe that they have your best interests at heart.
True trust is built through consistent, reliable behavior, not just words.
The next time someone repeatedly asks you to “trust them,” ask yourself why he or she feels the need to say that so often.
It could be a sign that they are trying to manipulate you into giving them unwarranted trust.
5) “You Owe Me”
Hidden manipulators are experts at making you feel like you owe them something.
The phrase “you owe me” is often used to guilt you into doing something you may not want to do.
This tactic manipulates your sense of fairness and obligation.
They may remind you of a favor they did in the past, often exaggerating its importance to make you feel indebted to them.
But relationships don’t end keep score.
It’s not about who is to blame. It’s about mutual respect and reciprocity.
No one has the right to make you feel obligated or guilty without your consent.
6) “If you loved me, you would…”
This is a sentence that goes straight to the heart.
Covert manipulators often use love as a tool to get what they want, and it is one of the most painful forms of manipulation.
“If you loved me, you would…” is a sentence that manipulates your emotions and makes you doubt your feelings.
It is a coercive tactic used to guilt you into conforming to their wishes.
Love should never be used as a bargaining chip.
It’s not about doing everything the other person wants; it’s about mutual respect, understanding and compromise.
When someone uses your love for them as a weapon, it is a clear sign of manipulation.
Love is not about control or demands, it is about caring and understanding.
Don’t let anyone use your feelings as a tool for their gain.
7) “No one else will ever love you as much as I do”
This phrase is a manipulator’s way of making you feel lucky to have them, even if they treat you badly.
It’s a tactic designed to reduce your self-esteem and make you feel dependent on them.
I remember a time when I was in a relationship where this phrase was used often.
I felt trapped and afraid to leave because I was manipulated into believing that no one else would ever care for me in the same way.
But the truth is that this phrase is just a trick to keep you clinging to the manipulator.
It is a fear tactic used to control and isolate you.
Love should never make you feel cornered or afraid. When someone makes you feel like he or she is your only option, that’s not love, it’s manipulation.
8) “I never said that”
Covert manipulators are masters at distorting the truth and denying the things they have said. “I never said that” is a common expression used by them to make you doubt your memory and perception.
This tactic, also called gaslighting, makes you doubt your own experiences and memories.
Over time, this can lead to confusion and the feeling that you are losing your grip on reality.
When confronted with undeniable evidence, manipulators may even go so far as to accuse you of misunderstandings or false memories.
This is intended to shake your confidence in your judgment.
Don’t let anyone force you to question your reality.
If you notice that a pattern of denial and distortionthis is a clear sign that you are dealing with a manipulator.
Trust your memory and instincts.
9) “It’s all your fault”
This is the last and perhaps most damaging phrase in a manipulator’s toolbox.
They often use “it’s all your fault” to shift blame and avoid responsibility for their actions.
Manipulators are experts at twisting situations to make you feel responsible, even when you’re not.
This constant blame game can be emotionally draining and can significantly damage your self-esteem.
Everyone makes mistakes, but a pattern of blaming others, especially for their actions or feelings, is a strong sign of manipulation.
Don’t allow anyone to make you bear the burden of their mistakes.
You are not responsible for anyone else’s happiness or actions except your own.
Final thoughts: It’s about self-awareness
Understanding human interactions, especially when it comes to manipulation, often comes down to self-awareness.
These subtle expressions used by covert manipulators are intended to undermine your self-confidence and control your actions.
But recognizing it is the first step in the fight against such manipulation.
When you hear these sentences, take a moment to think.
Question their intent. Trust your instincts.
Your feelings and perceptions are valid, and anyone who tries to make you think otherwise is not acting in your best interests.
The key to dealing with manipulation is not only identifying it but also responding to it effectively.
This requires emotional intelligence, self-confidence, and, above all, respect for your self-worth.
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