5 Manipulation Techniques You Need to Be Aware Of


Whether it’s about work, school, friends or family – manipulation can happen in any environment where humans interact socially with each other. Sometimes it is consciously done and sometimes the manipulator is not even aware of what they are doing.

Whether they feel regret on how they achieve their goals or not, I wanted to share a few common manipulation techniques with you and how you can identify them in order to defend yourself from doing favors you would usually not do.

Manipulation comes from the Latin word manus which means hand. So it derives as how to “handle” someone in order to do something for your. With this article I would like to raise the awareness for these techniques and certainly don’t encourage anyone to participate in manipulating others. Even if you are not targeted yourself maybe you notice others being manipulated and can help them out of their situation.

1. Superstition Technique

With the superstition technique the manipulator leverages a reaction pattern that the manipulation target learned in the childhood. Happy omens for good things to happen and a portent for bad things to happen. Logic does usually not prevail in this game if the target firmly believes in something superstitious.


What you should be aware of

The manipulator attempts to point his victim towards common superstitious symbols to control their emotion and therefore potentially their decisions. Signs are everywhere around us but it’s about pointing towards them in the right context that you need to be aware of.

2. Bad Guy / Good Guy Method

This technique is also known as “fear-then-relief” procedure. It is most commonly known for its use in police interrogation rooms in the movies. I haven’t been interrogated by the police before so I couldn’t really tell if that’s reality or not but its could possibly be.

This technique is based on the model of transaction analysis and builds on a weakened sense of awareness when the manipulation target is confronted with quickly changing emotional environments.


What you should be aware of

The manipulator tries to leverage the social rule of reciprocity. Socialization enforces the victim to return a favor done for them. The manipulator will try to get the victim into a position under fire so they can then be “saved” from same.

3. Bad Arguments

Invalid or bad arguments are arguments that are used which a nefarious or even malicious intent. The overall goals to use arguments as leverage for manipulating others lie with the context the arguments are used in. Most arguments and facts, by their nature, are neutral. With the right strategy someone can use that to make you do something that is disadvantageous for yourself.


What you should be aware of

This technique is best applied with insecure people, so you should always train your skill to take decisions and be confident about it. Often the manipulator applies the Sunk-Cost-Effect, which describes that the already invested cost / effort must be preserved with any potential future costs. In project management for example this would mean to discard risk management and keep the project running no matter how it will end – while actually it should have been stopped to save cost and preserve an economic value add.

Another thing to be mindful of is the binary or terminal choice: If you do X then Y will happen. This is usually a negative causality chain dictated by the manipulator. You do what they suggest even if it is disadvantageous for your because if you don’t do that then something worse is going to happen.

4. Forbidden Rhetoric and Manipulation of Language

This technique is based on pacing and mimicking the target person’s spoken words and body language. Certain word patterns invoke calculated associations that can be studied and planned for in a conversation. People who are targeted by such a manipulation often perceive the paced behavior as close to their own and therefore are more likely to agree to favors asked from them.

Diego da Silva Mimicry Man Tree Yoga Manipulation Techniques_edited

What you should be aware of

The manipulator is trying to copy your behavior, ways of dressing, signature lines and things the target person likes. This is done in order to win the sympathy of the target and is an enabler for further manipulation. This and similar practices are explained in more detail in the body of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP).

5. Compassion Technique

This is a method that manipulators apply on emotional and sensitive individuals. The manipulator will pretend to be emotionally struck by a certain event or scenario in order to gain the compassion of the targeted person. The “victim” with emotional intelligence will execute a shift of perspective and will “feel the pain” of the situation therefore create a strong emotional connection to the manipulator.


What you should be aware of

This is a method you should be definitely be aware of since it is very easy to apply and builds on encouraged people skills such as emotional intelligence. You need to filter between truth and lies as well as acting and authentic behavior of individuals of your social environment.

The manipulator will present himself or herself in an emergency or distressful situation either openly or directed towards a single person in a controlled environment. They will try to validate if the shift of perspective has happened or not by lines such as “… do you know what I mean?” or “… do you understand that?” They will be waiting for the targeted person to offer help so they can finally request for their favor to be done for them.


I hope you found this article insightful and hopefully it can help a few people to be more aware of manipulation techniques around them. If you feel I missed an important point or want to add on top of these please feel invited to drop a comment below. Thanks for reading and sorry for the cat photo.

Photo credit: Xavier Lacot / AlexanderKayVee IncFound AnimalsDiego da SilvaMiki Yoshihito

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Christopher Isak
Christopher Isakhttps://techacute.com
Hi there and thanks for reading my article! I'm Chris the founder of TechAcute. I write about technology news and share experiences from my life in the enterprise world. Drop by on Twitter and say 'hi' sometime. ;)
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