Method One of Three:
Watching Their Behavior
Notice if the person always wants you to speak first. Manipulative people want to listen to what you have to say so they can find out your strengths and weaknesses. They will ask you probing questions so that you will talk about your personal opinions and feelings. These questions usually begin with “What,” “Why,” or “How.” Their responses and actions are based on the information you have given them.
Always wanting you to speak first should not be considered manipulation on its own. Take into consideration the other things the person does as well.
The manipulative person will not reveal much personal information during these conversations but focus on you instead.
If this behaviour happens in the majority of the conversations you have with them, it may be a sign of manipulation.
Although it may feel like genuine interest, keep in mind that there may be a hidden agenda behind all this questioning. If you try to get to know the person, and or they refuse to answer questions or quickly changes the subject, it may not be genuine interest.
Notice if the person uses charm to accomplish things. Some people are naturally charming, but a manipulator uses charm to get something. This person may compliment someone before making a request. They may give a small gift or card before asking or say they will do a favour to get the other person to do something.
For example, someone may cook a nice dinner and be very sweet before asking the other person for money or help with a project.
Be aware that while this sort of behaviour is often quite harmless, you are not under any obligation to do something just because someone did something nice for you.
Look out for coercive behaviour. Manipulators will persuade people to do something using force or threats. They may yell at a person, criticize a person, or threaten a person to get him to do something. The person might begin by saying, “If you do not do this, I will ___” or “I want ___ until you ____.” A manipulator will use this tactic to not only get a person to do something, but also to get him to stop doing a certain behavior.
Be aware of how the person handles facts. If a person manipulates facts or tries to overwhelm you with facts and information, they could be trying to manipulate you. Facts may be manipulated by lying, withholding information, exaggerating, or making excuses. Someone may also act like an expert on a subject and bombard you with facts and statistics. The person does this to feel more powerful than you.
Notice if a person is always a martyr or victim. This person may do things that you did not ask them to, and then hold it over your head. By “doing you a favour,” their expectation increases that you have to return the favour and they may complain when you don’t.
A manipulator may also complain and say, “I’m so unloved/sick/victimized, etc.” in an effort to gain your sympathy and to get you to do things for him.
Consider whether their kindness is conditional. They might be sweet and kind to you if you do a certain task well enough, but all heck breaks loose if you dare do it wrong. This type of manipulator seems to have two faces: one angelic one for when they want you to like them, and one awful one for when they want you to fear them. Everything seems fine until you fail their expectations.
You may be walking on eggshells, afraid to make them angry.
Observe patterns of behaviour. All people engage in manipulative behaviour at times. However, people who are manipulators engage in this behaviour on a regular basis. A manipulator has a personal agenda and intentionally tries to exploit another person for power, control, and privileges at the other person’s expense. If these behaviours are happening on a regular basis, this person may be a manipulator.
When you are being manipulated, your rights or interests are often compromised and are not important to the other person.
Recognize that disabilities or mental illnesses can play a role. For example, a person who has depression may go into a genuine guilt spiral with no manipulative intent, and a person with ADHD may have trouble checking their email regularly. This does not make someone manipulative.