How to resist pressure from manipulators? 10 psychological techniques

One of the best ways to deal with a manipulator is to ignore and avoid contact with him. You need to make sure that this person does not appear in your life. If this is your husband, file for divorce. If he is a romantic partner, leave him. If this is a friend, break off the relationship. Perhaps it is a colleague, then avoid contact with him/her. Don’t worry or think that your actions will offend or hurt someone. Although it may seem strange, manipulative people do not feel resentment.

Answer the question: who are you?

The main problem of overly compliant people is an absolute lack of understanding of who they are, what is their priority in life, what principles are they willing to give up? Once you decide on all of the above, you will stop falling for other people's tricks. Understand, altruism must have a goal, you must understand what you are willing to sacrifice? If friendship is more important to you than love, follow the lead of your comrades with a light heart and prepare for a quarrel with your spouse. If your career comes first, you can safely stay late, sacrificing your family and health. But now you need to make a choice: to whom do you say “yes” and to whom do you say “no”. You can't be good to everyone.

Imperative of Negative Intentions

The imperative is not used separately; most often it is used in combination with other manipulative techniques. Its goal is to force the opponent to constantly justify himself, not giving him the opportunity to take the initiative in the conversation. Example: “This gift is for you!” - “What is there, rubber fig?”

Proving that there was nothing bad in your intentions is a thankless task, because constantly throwing baseless accusations is much easier than quickly finding excuses. It will be much more effective to translate all this into a joke, saying: “Of course, but how did you guess?”

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Deprive the manipulator of power

Other people have power over us exactly as long as we ourselves allow it to them, accepting their gifts, care, help in business, agreeing with their authority. Deprive the manipulator of his trump cards - return gifts, solve problems yourself, find support from third parties - and then you won’t have to feel like an eternal debtor, agreeing to unfavorable conditions. A person will not be able to pull strings that he does not have. True, you will have to grow up, taking responsibility for a lot. Think for yourself, how much are you willing to pay for your freedom?


Everett Shostrom (American psychologist and psychotherapist) in his book “Anti-Carnegie, or the Manipulative Man” in 1992 presented a capacious description of this type of personality. Since then, the classification he proposed has been actively used in psychology.


Dominants of behavior - controls, orders, subordinates. Does not recognize authorities other than himself. Makes you unquestioningly bow to him. He tends to exaggerate his own importance and strength. These are people with high self-esteem. Examples from history: Benito Mussolini, Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler.

Wimp / weakling / chameleon / fool / conformist

The opposite of a Dictator. His main weapon is excessive sensitivity, pleasing, flattery, passive silence. But all this is only external. Those around him underestimate him, pity him and fall for the bait, fulfilling all his desires, because they consider him weak and are trying to protect him. In fact, he simply knows how to use situations to his advantage.

Calculator / swindler / blackmailer / gambler / businessman

His methods are deception, lies, cunning. He scams people out of money, robs people like nothing, and disappears. Likes to keep the entire manipulation process under control, calculates everything in advance. Without benefit, he does not make contacts. Independent, lone wolf, does not have a permanent place of residence. Often he has problems with the Law. Examples from history: Victor Lustig (sold the Eiffel Tower), Frank Abagnale (robber and swindler), Mary Baker (impostor princess).

Clingy / parasite / dependent / whiner / hypochondriac / eternal child

The opposite of Calculator. He shows off his addiction too much. A driven personality who forces the victim to do everything for him, explaining that he is supposedly incapable of independence.

Bully / saw / hater / insulter

Manipulates with aggression and cruelty. He often uses physical force, since he does not know other methods of self-affirmation. He sees only the bad in those around him.

Nice guy/moralist/well-wisher

The opposite of a Bully. His task is to first disarm everyone with his kindness, care and love, and then they will not refuse him anything, because he is so nice. However, his goals are always selfish and he rarely thinks about others.

Judge / accuser / appraiser / avenger

His weapons are criticism, distrust, doubt. He is constantly dissatisfied, indignant, angry, because those around him break the rules (not necessarily public ones, he often sets them himself). It is he who will rummage through the victim’s pockets and phone, trying to prove that he was deceived. He clings to every little thing and doesn’t listen to excuses at all. He forgives rarely and with great difficulty.

Protector/comforter/student/helper/mother hen

The opposite of Judge. At first meeting, he seems to be an extremely positive person: supportive, comforting, protective. However, all this is nothing more than a weapon of psychological manipulation. In these ways, he convinces the victim that everyone around is unfair and offends her, only he understands and feels sorry. Sympathy beyond measure deprives one of independence, and this gives complete control over a person.

In psychotherapy, advanced cases of manipulators are serious diagnoses that require long-term work. The most commonly diagnosed personality disorders are:

  • narcissistic;
  • borderline;
  • anxious;
  • dependent;
  • hysterical;
  • passive-aggressive;
  • dissocial.

As well as Machiavellianism, nervousness and psychological addiction.

Nip generalization in the bud

A favorite tactic of manipulators is to take words out of context, inflate the situation to the size of an elephant, and then poke the person under the nose. You didn’t call your mother once, forgot to send a document to your boss, returned from a party later than usual - and you were immediately presented with accusations as if you always act this way (you don’t appreciate, don’t love, don’t care about all your responsibilities, you’re an unreliable and bad person). The play is designed to make you feel guilty. Don't be fooled! Encourage the person not to exaggerate the situation and base his conclusions on real facts. This is a surefire way to resist a manipulator.

Don't be afraid to counterattack

Manipulators are used to driving people into corners. Don't be a victim; you have the power to change the rules of the game by going on a counteroffensive. How much longer must you endure injustice? Ask the aggressor: “Why do we always do what only benefits you? What about my own interests? “This is the 10th time you’ve asked me for a favor, but when have you ever done something for me? Maybe it’s your turn to do my job?” Don’t be afraid to change roles, this will show the absurdity of the demands placed on you and scare off the hypocrite.

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How to communicate with manipulators and avoid their influence?

Here are some tips on how to behave with those who are trying to use manipulative techniques on you.

Don't forget your rights

Remember that you, like other people, have rights


  • getting what you paid for;
  • have a different opinion from others and express it openly;
  • receive respectful treatment;
  • express your feelings;
  • protect yourself from physical and emotional abuse;
  • set your own priorities.

It is important not only to remember this in words, but also to firmly believe in these rights and defend them.

Keep your distance

If you are not connected to the manipulator by work relationship or other obligations, then you should not maintain communication with him

– it drains you, harms your self-esteem and mood. The reasons why people become chronic manipulators are often complex and can be related to a range of issues. You are unlikely to be able to influence the subject's behavior or change anything about him without his consent, so you shouldn't try.

Healthy skepticism won't hurt

The manipulator’s favorite technique is to provide you with an unnecessary or insignificant service and demand much more in return.

. Therefore, it is important to learn to recognize attempts to gain their trust in the early stages. Such attempts vary from person to person, so the best recipe is not to take the word for everything you are told and maintain a healthy skepticism.

Manipulators also like to shower the potential victim with a lot of compliments.

. If you hear excessive flattery directed at you, you can respond: “That’s very nice of you, but I don’t feel like I’ve done anything to deserve such wonderful words.”

Avoid self-blame

Feeling guilty is a very convenient trick to get you to do what they want you to do. Don't let remorse cloud your critical thinking

, and ideally,
don’t take words personally at all and don’t be tormented by guilt or shame
. Remember, the problem is not you: it’s up to the manipulator to make you feel bad, because this way it’s easier to control you.

Manipulators try to make their problem your problem.

Analyze relationships

Consider your relationship with a potential manipulator and ask yourself:

  • Do I feel good interacting with this person?
  • Do they treat me with respect or just pretend?
  • In this relationship, am I receiving something or am I just giving?
  • Are this person's requests logical from a common sense point of view?

Questions like this will help you analyze your relationship

and understand how healthy they are and whether there is room for manipulation.

Don't let yourself go beyond

Establish for yourself a clear algorithm of action in case of violations of personal boundaries

. When someone raises their voice at you, you have every right to say: “If our conversation continues in a raised voice, I will have to leave. Unfortunately, I can't talk to you when you're screaming." Or offer a peaceful way to end the conversation: “If we both calm down, we can continue the conversation in a calm tone, and this day will not be overshadowed by negative emotions.”

Change your focus

When a manipulator imposes an unreasonable request on you, it is sometimes useful to focus on your opponent and ask him a few questions

. This, on the one hand, will show the interlocutor that you saw manipulation in the request, on the other hand, it will allow you to understand whether the person has enough self-awareness to assess the failure of the scheme. Eg:

  • “Does this seem reasonable to you?”
  • “Does my opinion on this matter mean anything?”
  • "What will I get in exchange?"
  • "Do you really want me to do this?" In this matter, it is worth
    reformulating the requirement to expose the absurdity of the request. For example, a colleague asks you to make small changes to a report in order to present your own work to your superiors in a more favorable light and receive a bonus. In this case, it would be appropriate to ask: “Do you really want me to provide false information and risk being fired?”

When you ask such questions, you are practically saying in plain text that you see right through a person’s techniques. For many, this is a clear signal that their schemes will not work.

, and they retreat.
However, some manipulators - including sociopaths, narcissists, etc. - they can still insist on their own. The fact is that they may not actually be aware of the flaws in the proposed plan
due to existing mental problems (for example, in the case of sociopaths and narcissists, this may be a pathological inability to understand the feelings, emotions and needs of other people). The best advice in this case is to minimize communication.

Become a leader, not a follower

Manipulators like to rush and demand answers/results as quickly as possible.

. Instead of agreeing/complying with the request right now, just say what you'll think about. This way you will kill two birds with one stone: you will not only gain time, but also gain control over the situation. This will mess things up for the person who was deliberately creating a power imbalance to take advantage of you.

If, after deliberation, you come to the conclusion that it is not profitable for you to comply with someone else’s request, proceed to the next step.

Refer to situation analysis

Are your parents accusing you of being selfish by forcing you to spend the weekend with them? Does your boss insist that you are a terrible employee, so you have to write someone else’s report? Stop and think how true are the words you heard? If that week you visited your mother three times, gave her pocket money, took her to the doctor - what kind of selfishness are we talking about? This is a banal manipulation. If you are responsible for all the sales of the department, if not a single transaction is made without your approval, then you are not such a useless employee. Analyze and share your observations out loud, do not fall for outright blackmail.

How does manipulation differ from ordinary social influence?

The term "manipulation" in psychology has a broad interpretation depending on the field in question. For the purposes of this article, we mean by this word the veiled, deceptive influence of one person on another

the desire to force someone to do something in a hidden way, regardless of the needs, feelings, interests, and rights of another person. In fact, in any relationship, people influence each other. Unlike manipulation, healthy influence has a more positive connotation because it leaves room for your wants and needs
For example, you were asked for something - you agreed, or refused, or came to a compromise. In addition, close people influence each other because they want to see family and friends healthy emotionally and physically and act for their benefit. An example is friends encouraging you to give up bad habits. Let us leave aside how legitimate and necessary such an action is. The goal itself is important - formally positive, aimed specifically at you. This is the qualitative difference between influence and manipulation: the manipulator acts for the benefit only of himself

Manipulation differs from healthy influence by the intention to take without giving in return.

Use the “sticky record” technique

Is your interlocutor starving you out, pressuring you with constant requests or fictitious “shoulds”? Repeat the refusal as many times as necessary, with one addition - do not include any emotions. Imagine that you are a robot who echoes an aggressive client: “The operation is not available, we will call you back.” Become this robot and say “no” in a variety of variations: “I don’t like this topic,” “I already told you no,” “we closed this issue two years ago.” What should it look like? “I thought you wanted this yourself. - Don't make things up. “But I put so much into it, don’t you feel sorry for my efforts?” - Don't make things up. “How can you be so heartless, you don’t value me!” “Don’t make things up.”

Two-part request

A request, the concept of which consists of 2 mutually consistent theses, is subconsciously perceived as cause-and-effect. For example, “Ivan Ivanovich, take a break and bring me some tea.” If you refuse, meaning tea, then, among other things, refuse the break.

To resist such manipulation, you need to break your answer into two conditional parts: “Thank you for the opportunity to take a breath, but I won’t be able to make tea now.”

Keep your distance

To disarm the victim, many manipulators resort to cunning - they invade a person’s personal space, forcing him to experience discomfort and make concessions. How do they do it? Accompany the request with a touch of the hand, share candy or give a friendly pat on the shoulder. To avoid falling under their hypnotic spell, try to step away. The further the better! You can literally refer to urgent matters, promising to return to the issue later. Then consider the refusal and send it via email or call back. This way there will be no physical contact, and therefore no other people’s influence.


This technique is characterized by the use of words “constantly”, “for nothing”, “everything”, etc. What is the essence of a metaframe? The manipulative interlocutor, instead of denouncing your points or developing dialogue in a constructive manner, begins to attack your consciousness, based on the above words. For example: “Once again you left this out of sight. As always, you are in your repertoire – you can’t do anything well.” And instead of discussing a specific fact, you slide into excuses for all the sins committed by humanity.

The most effective method of combating a metaframe is an urgent request to give a specific example. After this, the entire manipulative structure of your opponent will fall apart, because it is much easier to appeal with generalizations than to indicate a fact confirming the correctness of the words.

Prepare an escape plan

It’s one thing when the manipulator is a stranger, and quite another thing if it’s your spouse, relative or boss to whom you are subordinate. Just “I don’t want” will not get you off here, especially if the aggressor knows your weaknesses well, has power over you, and his threat is not an empty phrase. When standing up for interests threatens the loss of money, work or family, it’s time to think about how much you have to lose? Maybe it's time to look for another place for self-realization or another relationship in which no one will offend you? Consider a retreat plan, seek support from family and friends, and don’t focus on just one option. Otherwise, you will live your whole life as a patient.


This technique involves agreeing with the opponent’s remark or inserting a positive thesis, and then an extreme form of denial follows. For example: “You have become prettier - I’m probably starting to lose my sight!”

Why is this being done? Most often, this technique is used for public discussions to humiliate the interlocutor or make him lose his composure.

To effectively fend off a decline, you must have experience in conducting such discussions and be a very sharp-tongued person. However, the response can be quite simple: “I began to lose my vision.” - “Yes, besides, you are not looking at me, but in the mirror.”

Reveal your cards: say your observations out loud

If you have long ago figured out the offender, you can try to leave the game by telling the person that his intentions have been revealed. This step takes courage, but it is effective. Just say: “You accuse me of selfishness because you don’t want to lose your influence, you’re afraid of being unwanted.” “Your threat is an attempt to tie me more tightly, you are not confident in yourself and think that I will find someone better...” The main thing at this moment is to radiate calm and confidence, to be above the situation. As soon as you feel that you have been touched, know that the manipulator has already gained power over you, you are on his hook.

What does a potential victim look like?

Here are some common traits of those who are vulnerable to manipulators:

  • You only feel useful and loved when you can take care of other people's needs. This goes beyond treating other people well. Your sense of self-worth comes from doing things for others. In fact, you go so far as to please other people at the expense of your own well-being. For example, you might buy something especially nice for your girlfriend or friend, although you would never spend that kind of money on yourself. Manipulators are drawn to this type of people and do not hesitate to take full advantage of their generosity.
  • You need approval and acceptance from those around you. While it is normal to want acceptance, it is important for the classic victim of a manipulator to be accepted and approved by everyone, without exception. The main problem here is the fear of being rejected or abandoned. And it is so strong that you are ready to do anything to avoid this feeling. The manipulator works according to the following scheme - first he gives approval, praises, admires, and then creates such conditions that you become dependent on this approval and are afraid of losing it.
  • You are afraid to express negative emotions. Although expressing anger and engaging in conflict is never pleasant, some people will go to great lengths to avoid an argument. They want everything to always be smooth and pleasant. They are afraid that they simply cannot withstand negative emotions. Manipulators in such relationships have a simple task - all they have to do is raise their voice slightly, and the victim will immediately give in, so as not to cause a conflict to break out.
  • You can't say no. One of the characteristics of a healthy relationship is personal boundaries , which clarify who you are and where you stand. But to maintain healthy boundaries, you must sometimes say “no” if someone tries to step out of line. If you are afraid of conflict because of your refusal, then this plays into the hands of the manipulator. Learning effective assertiveness techniques is a way to regain a sense of control in a manipulative relationship.
  • You lack a strong sense of self. A clear sense of yourself means that you know your values, who you are, what you are worth, and that you clearly respect the inviolability of your personal boundaries. If you have an unclear sense of self, it is difficult to trust your own judgment or make decisions that work in your favor. Without a clear definition of yourself, you can become an easy target for a manipulator.

If you are in a manipulative relationship, it is helpful to immediately recognize all the ways the other person can gain control over you.

You can understand them and study them safely with the help of a professional psychologist.

You probably won't be able to change the manipulator's behavior, but you can change your own reactions to manipulation attempts to gain a stronger sense of your own integrity.

The unhappiness that results from a manipulative relationship can lead to life-altering experiences.

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