20 Manipulation Techniques Utilized by Gaslighters, Narcissists & Sociopaths

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Have you ever ever felt such as you have been being was a marionette or a string puppet by somebody who you understand or love?

Being manipulated or having manipulation techniques used towards you is typical of psychological warfare, besides the battlefield is your own home, life, and everyday existence. 

Whereas all of us need to get what we wish, gaslighters, narcissists, and sociopaths are likely to take this to the acute, consciously utilizing manipulation techniques to get what they need—normally at your expense. 

Worse nonetheless, manipulators are actually, actually good at it, and chances are you’ll not notice you might be being manipulated. However the indicators are there for those who open your eyes, turn into self-aware, and take a look at your interactions with manipulators by a discerning eye. 

It’s time to minimize the strings on manipulation techniques and embrace freedom. 

What Is Manipulation? 

Manipulation is when somebody makes use of subterfuge and underhanded techniques to coerce somebody else into doing what they need. Normally, the particular person being manipulated wouldn’t need to do what they’re being compelled to do, however the manipulator is targeted on acquiring their targets, not dealing pretty with the particular person they’re abusing. 

Utilizing manipulation techniques towards somebody is a type of emotional abuse. There are numerous totally different manipulation techniques, together with (however undoubtedly not restricted to):

  • Guilt tripping 
  • Love bombing 
  • Deflection 
  • Ghosting 
  • Emotional blackmail
  • Making you right into a scapegoat 
  • Vilifying you (projecting) 
  • Divide and conquer 
  • Taking part in the sufferer 
  • Mendacity 
  • Reinforcement 
  • Deflection 

Why Would Somebody Use Manipulation?

If you’re questioning why anybody would do such horrible issues to somebody who trusts them, you have got by no means needed to cope with the fallout of being manipulated. The rationale for manipulation is easy: the manipulator needs one thing, and so they need to have it, it doesn’t matter what it takes to get it. 

At a extra complicated degree, some manipulators reminiscent of gaslighters, narcissists, and sociopaths can also manipulate somebody (aka their sufferer) as a result of it provides them a way of management—they’re holding the strings. 

The target of manipulation is then not solely to get one thing from the sufferer (that the sufferer wouldn’t truly need to do), however to disempower the sufferer and empower the manipulator. Like vampires, these manipulators suck your willpower and switch you into their private zombie. 

Why It Sucks Being Manipulated

Some victims of manipulation are so coerced they don’t notice the harm it does to them. When requested in regards to the manipulation techniques that had been used towards them, they might declare the manipulator had their finest curiosity at coronary heart. 

However being manipulated means you turn into depending on the manipulator (including to their energy), and also you lose your private company and independence. With out willpower, you turn into a prisoner in your individual life

Manipulation can result in a lack of belief between companions, the top of relationships, and the formation of abusive relationship dynamics. In the end, manipulation is unhealthy as a result of it causes:

An Imbalance of Energy

You lose your energy to the manipulator, who locations their very own well-being over yours. 

Disorientation and Disempowerment 

Being manipulated could cause the sufferer to really feel like strangers in their very own lives, and so they undergo disorientation and lack of private energy (ready for permission from their abuser to do one thing), which results in complete disempowerment. 

Doubt and Lack of Self-Belief

When you have got been manipulated, you’ll really feel like you’ll be able to’t belief your self to make choices anymore. You start to doubt these round you, questioning if they’re additionally manipulating you as you’ve suffered a violation of belief. 

Who’re the Manipulators?

In the end, who’re the manipulators it is best to actually be careful for? Let’s have a look:


A gaslighter is somebody who makes use of manipulation to persuade somebody they’re shedding their thoughts and subsequently set up the manipulator’s authority over their sufferer. Whereas gaslighting isn’t essentially a psychological or persona attribute, it refers to particular actions used to make the sufferer doubt themselves and deny any validation to the sufferer’s perspective or emotions. 

The time period gaslighting is from the well-known 1938 play by Patrick Hamilton—Gaslight—which tells the story of a married couple, the place the husband tries to drive his spouse mad by continually switching on the range’s gaslight so she is going to start to self-doubt and lose all private belief. 

For extra on gaslighting at work, learn our information on the warning indicators your boss is gaslighting you at work. 


Named for the fable of Narcissus, narcissists are thought of a persona sort that’s obsessive about their very own pursuits and lives. Narcissists lack empathy, so that they don’t perceive why their actions are dangerous or manipulative of their victims. However the query is whether or not they’re really evil? 

Somebody turns into a narcissist when they should really feel like they’re higher than everybody else, once they can manipulate their sufferer into continually hero worshiping them, and once they really feel entitled to something they need. 

Narcissists act just like the world owes them one thing, which is why they manipulate, as they imagine it’s their proper or that they know what’s finest for the particular person they’re “in cost” of. 


Whereas narcissists might generally tend to see nothing flawed with taking what they need, in excessive instances, they might even be sociopaths. A sociopath is commonly referred to as the situation with none ethical purpose. 

If somebody sees nothing flawed with essentially the most ghastly deeds towards their fellow man and can gladly manipulate them to do what they need (irrespective of the price to the sufferer), they’re seemingly a sociopath. 

A sociopath has no idea of proper or flawed. They merely do what they please, with none regard for authority, regulation, or morality. Sociopaths don’t have any conscience on the subject of their actions. 

Similarities between Gaslighters, Narcissists, and Sociopaths

Whereas these are three distinct personalities, there may be some overlap between the habits of a sociopath, a narcissist, and a gaslighter. Look out for these indicators:   

Manipulation Techniques to Get What They Need

Gaslighters, narcissists, and sociopaths all use manipulation techniques to finally get what they need from you. They could even use the identical techniques, merely utilized to differing ranges

A Lack of Real Empathy and Caring

These three persona varieties have one severe character flaw in widespread—they lack empathy and can’t genuinely care in regards to the folks they manipulate. Whereas a few of us might blind ourselves into manipulating others with the excuse of doing it for that particular person’s profit too, these three personalities merely do it as a result of they’ll. 

Allure and Manipulation Stroll Hand in Hand

Who can say no to a captivating particular person who appears to have your finest curiosity at coronary heart? With their appeal and methodical manipulations, narcissists, gaslighters, and sociopaths simply destroy boundaries and again their victims into corners. They’ll smile whereas they knife you within the again, and so they’ll ship you a get properly quickly card afterward too. 

Mendacity Comes Naturally to Them

For many of us, mendacity isn’t pure, and we’ve “tells” that give away we’re mendacity. These three “bullies” are specialists at mendacity, and so they do it for enjoyable. Worse nonetheless, they imagine their very own lies, making them harmful to be round. 

Twisting the Reality

Not solely do these personalities lie, however in addition they twist the reality to serve their functions. When coping with any of those three “bullies,” you could watch out of their model of the reality.

There are a number of manipulation techniques that gaslighters, narcissists, and sociopaths use to get what they need and set up their energy over you. Figuring out what to be careful for may help you steer clear.  

20 Manipulation Techniques Utilized by Gaslighters, Narcissists, and Sociopaths

Like a number of the gun-happy cults which have featured on TV, gaslighters, narcissists, and sociopaths have an arsenal of weapons (aka manipulations) at their disposal. 

When one doesn’t work, there are a number of others they’ll use to lastly get what they need—your obedience and full compliance with their needs.  

1. Love Bombing 

“However I really like you a lot, which is why I received you this new watch, as a result of I solely need the very best for you.”

Love bombing is a elementary tactic that these three “bully” personalities study to make use of as a manipulation technique to realize their targets. To make use of the love bomb tactic, the manipulator will discover a method to use their sufferer’s self-importance towards them. 

In a love bomb assault, the manipulator showers their sufferer in extreme profusions of affection and costly items or excessive shows of affection, which all make the sufferer really feel beholden to their manipulator. They purchase your love so you’ll belief them and do as they ask. 

Once you attempt to get out of the snare, they swap it up with statements like, “Didn’t I get you every thing you needed, however you gained’t do that one factor for me?” Love bombing shortly turns into guilt tripping. 

2. Guilt Tripping 

“However you have got a lot, and also you don’t present any gratitude to me.” 

Guilt tripping is the evil twin of affection bombing, and this tactic could be very helpful to a manipulator who depends on your individual sense of ethical justice, turning this towards you.

If you find yourself made to really feel like you might be ungrateful for all of the issues somebody has finished for you, they achieve energy over you as your self-confidence takes a knock and also you turn into susceptible to exterior manipulation

The narcissist, gaslighter, or sociopath might remind you of all they’ve finished for you (within the love bombing), and observe this with an implied or articulated recrimination, making you are feeling such as you’re ungrateful. 

When you sometimes see your self as a grateful particular person, you’ll expertise stress and vulnerability once they make you see your self as one thing you’re not.   

3. Psychological Projection 

“I’m not the one doing the manipulations right here. Can’t you see the way you’ve pushed me to get what you need?” 

Attempting to have a significant dialogue about manipulation with the manipulator is like catching a slippery eel in your arms. They simply go away a slimy residue on you, whereas slithering away unaffectedly. How do they do that? Via psychological projection. 

They subtly change the subject of the dialogue so you are feeling just like the unhealthy man, as a substitute of seeing them because the unhealthy man. They cleverly deflect the actual focus of the dialogue by making it about you.

By accusing you of one thing much like what you have got tried to level out, they trigger doubt and insecurities, making you susceptible to their manipulations. 

4. Dodge, Evade, and Redirect 

“I can’t imagine you’d accuse me of that. I discover you might be very emotional and labored up. Is there one thing occurring with you?”

Eradicating the main target from themselves, the manipulator makes your dialogue die a fast demise by saying you look emotional or that you’re beneath stress (which they “supposedly” don’t need to add to).

While you’re busy doubting your self as a result of they so cleverly evaded the unique feedback, they simply paint themselves in a brand new mild by feigning concern about you.  

5. Making You the Villain 

“I’m sorry you are feeling that means. However I can’t put up together with your abuse any longer.” 

When you determine to accuse your manipulator of being manipulative, they are going to seamlessly change the dialog so you look like the abuser as a substitute. Whether or not they accuse you of abuse up entrance or cleverly counsel it by projecting their techniques onto you, they obtain their purpose of unsettling you and making you susceptible.  

6. Smearing Your Title

“Did you hear what Ben stated about you?” 

A basic manipulation tactic is to faux that individuals are speaking about you, and they’re those who know what’s being stated. In the meantime, they’re those spreading lies and misinformation about you.

In the end, you find yourself going to them for data and kicking folks out of your life, when it’s the manipulator who has been orchestrating the entire smear marketing campaign.  

7. “However I’m the Sufferer”

“I actually didn’t have some other selection. Don’t you see that Sandra doesn’t like me?”

All of us need to cheer on the underdog, defend the sufferer, and encourage somebody who’s being bullied. Nonetheless, these three “bullies” simply make themselves out because the sufferer in any state of affairs. 

In the event that they lose their job (and turn into financially depending on you), it’s due to a brand new boss, the dearth of coaching, or as a result of they needed to care for you whilst you have been sick. It’s by no means their fault.

Since you see them because the sufferer, you are feeling sorry for them and can do as they ask.  

8. Isolate and Dominate 

“They don’t care about you want I do.” 

Chopping off individuals who normally encompass you is an indication that somebody is making an attempt to isolate and dominate you. By accusing different folks in your life, the manipulator makes you doubt folks and really feel alone. The result’s that you’ll simply turn into dominated since you stand alone. 

9. You’re It—The Scapegoat Sport

“What did you do flawed? Why can’t you get even easy issues proper?”

It is a typical instance of the “bullies” blaming you for every thing, making you into the scapegoat. With fixed blame and unfavorable feedback, the manipulator turns into empowered as they put on down their sufferer’s vanity.  

10. Management and Coerce Via Lies

“That’s not what you stated.”

With lies, the manipulator causes doubt and uncertainty of their sufferer, creating concern and confusion. In a susceptible state, the sufferer is open to additional manipulation. As soon as the manipulator can persuade you that you’re forgetful or liable to not listening to, they’ll simply let you know lies and demand that these occurred and are true. 

The top purpose is to make you depend on the manipulator to remind you of issues which can place doubt in the back of your thoughts.  

11. Altering the End Line

“I anticipate higher than this from you.”

Think about being set a activity, and when you accomplish the duty, you don’t get a reward, however find yourself in a nasty struggle as a substitute. These manipulators are adept at setting a purpose after which transferring that purpose or altering the purpose totally

Their manipulations are aimed toward holding you on the again foot always to allow them to take pleasure in energy over you, making you determined for his or her approval.

12. The Silent Sulk 

“I don’t have something to say.” (However actually, they do.)

Like a toddler that sulks, a manipulator might resort to this tactic till they get what they need from you. As an alternative of speaking about points like a mature grownup, they preserve quiet and sulk, letting their feelings communicate for them. A silent sulk is aimed toward making you are feeling responsible and convincing you that you’re the one who did flawed (for the reason that sulker is clearly in such misery). 

13. Working by Intermediaries 

“—silence—” (Bob will do the speaking for me.)

Along with the silent sulk tactic, they might use a 3rd celebration or an in depth buddy (who’s sympathetic to them) to relay their message. As an alternative of discussing issues like grownups, the manipulator makes it unimaginable for his or her sufferer to essentially say what’s occurring, since they use a biased third celebration to do their soiled work. 

Observe: Going for remedy with an unbiased skilled counselor isn’t the identical as this guerilla tactic of management.  

14. Adverse Reinforcement 

“When you do that for me, I’ll cease doing one thing you don’t like.” 

Adverse and optimistic reinforcement are a part of conditioning methodology, and when a narcissist, gaslighter, or sociopath makes use of unfavorable reinforcement, it’s to get what they need.

Whereas it’s regular for us to barter to get what we wish, these three members of the darkish triad don’t simply need what they need, in addition they need to make sure you don’t get what you need

With unfavorable reinforcement, they apply stress till you do what they need, then they take away the stress. 

“Properly, I assume you’re pleased with your self now.”  

Once you attempt to get up for your self, the manipulators resort to this type of manipulation to make you are feeling upset and get an increase out of you. As an alternative of listening to you or listening to your aspect of the story, they voice clear assumptions that paint you because the unhealthy man. 

For them, the reward is your emotional response, since they took away your capacity to behave.

16. Dismissiveness and Withholding Reward 

“All the opposite dancers did so properly. You’ll have to observe extra.”

It’s pure to look to others for some type of approval or validation, but one can find none of this while you take a look at a manipulator. Their reward at all times has a sting within the tail, or they are going to reward others whereas withholding it from you. 

Some will provide to assist you to enhance (suggesting they know higher and may do higher, whereas inserting you in a decrease place of energy within the relationship).  

17. Stalking and Possessiveness 

“I referred to as to be sure you have been secure, since I don’t prefer it while you exit late at evening.”

Ever had somebody faux to like you, solely to finish up stalking you? These manipulators usually do exactly that. They refuse to allow you to go anyplace with out them, and for those who do, they make you are feeling responsible about it. You’re their new favourite toy, and so they don’t wish to share.  

Initially, they might cover behind concern for you, however quickly, they are going to merely take it as a right that you’re theirs and so they personal you. 

18. The Overly Important Gaze 

“—silently taking a look at you with a raised eyebrow—” 

Once you do one thing that takes away their energy or doesn’t meet their approval (which they will not offer you anyway), they might merely stare at you in a threatening means. The silent stare has extra energy than some phrases do, and while you’ve turn into used to being manipulated, a stare is commonly sufficient to make you turn into obedient once more. 

Observe: That is additionally a type of unfavorable reinforcement because the stare is disagreeable to you, so while you do what they need, they take away the disagreeable factor by not gazing you. 

19. Psychological Blackmail 

“However I really like you, and I’ve finished a lot for you. How are you going to do that to me?” 

Through the use of expressions of affection, the manipulator convinces you they should be beloved and obeyed. They blackmail you, particularly if they’re in a place of energy (reminiscent of being the earner at residence) and threaten to withhold their help for those who don’t love them again. 

Psychological blackmail might be overt or covert, and so they might come all out and threaten to cease serving to you for those who don’t do as they need, or they might merely remind you of the issues they do for you and what you don’t do for them.  

20. The Savior Tactic 

“Don’t fear; I’ll do this for you.”

A very evil means of manipulation is when the manipulator rushes in to save lots of you. By pretending to be the savior in any state of affairs, they make their sufferer really feel indebted to them. 

Nonetheless, in hindsight, chances are you’ll discover they have been the reason for the issue to start out with. They created the drama so they might rush in and prevent—portray them because the everlasting hero. 

Ultimate Ideas on Manipulation Techniques

Manipulation techniques are gadgets used to coerce victims into sacrificing their individuality and free will for the sake of a controlling particular person who needs to take their companion’s energy away. A few of the favourite manipulation techniques which are utilized by narcissists, gaslighters, and sociopaths embody:

  • Guilt tripping 
  • Silently sulking 
  • Dismissive habits 
  • Psychological blackmail
  • Stalking 
  • Taking part in the savior
  • Smearing your identify 
  • Making you into the villain 

Have you ever been the sufferer of those manipulation techniques and extra? Maybe it’s time to assume lengthy and laborious about the folks in your life and whether or not they’re good for your psychological well being, actually have your finest pursuits at coronary heart, and if they’re price having in your life

It’s vital to learn the way an absence of self-awareness influences manipulators to make use of manipulation techniques and dominate their relationships. Turn into self-aware too, so you’ll be able to uncover who’s manipulating you and why, or assist you to cease if you’re a manipulator.

And for those who’re in search of extra sources on manipulation, remember to try these weblog posts:

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