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Watch out! The classic signs of a workplace manipulator

These behaviours have been learnt, usually in childhood, and are therefore ingrained within their personality

Although it can be argued that we all have manipulative tendencies when faced with certain situations, prolific manipulators regularly implement specific behaviours to affect an outcome they find acceptable.

By using underhand and deceptive tactics, manipulators are able to exploit people or situations in their pursuit of the control, power or privileges they are unable or unwilling to earn on their own merits. Often exploiting someone’s vulnerabilities or good nature, they will stop at nothing to get exactly what they want; therefore, it is surprising that a manipulator may be somebody who is generally trusted or well liked.

If you end up feeling bad as a result of someone’s actions, it is likely that you are being manipulated. This can be a very emotionally draining situation and being aware of the classic signs of a manipulator will put you in a better position when it comes to dealing with the situation should it arise.

Looking out for themselves

We all look out for ourselves to a certain extent to protect ourselves from difficult situations; however, a manipulator will never look out for anyone else. They may convince you that they are the only one you can trust, encouraging you to ask their opinion on everything before making a decision. This allows them to control your actions in a way that most benefits themselves.

Mind games

Manipulators can twist previous events or conversations in a way that shows them in the best light, even if their version is far from the truth. They may actively seek to hurt your feelings and then twist the situation in a way that makes you feel guilty. They may appear to open up and want to listen to what you have to say; however, this could be a ploy to make you think they are a vulnerable or sensitive person, as they are pursuing their own agenda.


If they agree to do something that will help you out in some way, manipulators may ‘accidentally’ forget about it and completely refute the fact they ever agreed in the first place. It is likely they will also employ the mind games tactic here to ensure you are the one who is left feeling guilty. In this way, they do not have to take any responsibility for their actions.

Control and lack of remorse

With a deep-rooted need to feel important but an unwillingness to reveal their true selves, manipulators may constantly seek validation as a way to appear superior. If you don’t follow their advice or rules, they may subsequently look for ways to get back at you until you apologise and listen to what they say.

When situations don’t turn out as expected, manipulators may blame you immediately; if you call them out on their behaviour, you will be the one who ends up looking irresponsible. If you confront them later, they will simply undermine and dismiss your feelings by saying that you are exaggerating. If you have not met their established standards, they may even completely disappear or simply ignore you without ever displaying any remorse or guilt.

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