Toxic Manipulative Communication: Avoid These Traps #PeopleSkills #LeadMorale

When you use manipulative communication, professional and personal relationships can go off course for quite a long time. This isn’t the outcome that most people want. Yet, manipulative communication subverts respect for others with the aim of selfish gain. You might achieve your aim yet rarely without losing trust. So, it is best to spot this manipulative behavior — in others and in yourself — to avoid the traps and sustain trust.



Toxic Manipulative Communication: Image is twisted rope wound round and round.

Toxic Manipulative Communication: Avoid These Traps! Image by JenniferForJoy via Flickr Creative Commons License.

Image by JenniferForJoy via Flickr Creative Commons License.


Avoid These Traps of Toxic Manipulative Communication

Think of how you feel when others are manipulating and controlling a conversation with you. Not good, right? Maybe you feel frustrated, trapped, annoyed, or even angry and outraged. Why? Think about it. In truth, most people say they feel like a tool or a prop. In other words, you feel used. Well the good news is you can avoid all of this.



Spot Manipulative Communication & Shift Gears!

  1. Making statements disguised as questions. When people pretend to ask a question when they are actually making a statement, it is manipulative. For example, “I’m sure you agree?” This is not a trust-building question. It is a statement disguised as a question. Others who hear you say this will realize you have no interest in what they think. If you did, you would ask “What do you think? Do you agree?” Shift gears: Ask real questions — not statements disguised as questions.

  2. Using absolutes. When you speak about others in negative absolute phrases, it manipulates others into defending who they are. “You always, you never” help you feel good as you vent your anger. Yet it is controlling and this manipulative communication destroys other’s trust in you. Shift gears: Don’t speak in absolutes about others. Moreover, if someone is manipulating you with absolutes, don’t defend yourself. Simply say that absolutes are never true. Then, invite them to give you some specific examples you can both discuss.

  3. Claiming that data, facts, and other’s opinions are on your side. I always smile when I spot this one because it is a dead giveaway of manipulation. What data, what facts, whose opinions? Shift gears: Offer specifics versus making general claims. Specifics show respect to others and a true desire for dialogue. When you are discussing specific examples, you build trust.

  4. Gossip and Lying!

  5. Starting and spreading gossip. Whether what you are stating is true or false, spreading rumors about others is manipulative communication. I sometimes hear people say, “Well everyone does it. It is just human nature.” Well everyone doesn’t do it nor does everyone have to do it. Shift gears: Don’t spread rumors about others. Also, if someone is telling you gossip about others, ask them “Why are you telling me this?” Let them know you think it can be harmful and that you aren’t interested.

  6. Lying. If there is one manipulative behavior that definitely erodes and destroys trust, it is lying. Lying, and then denying you are lying or calling it harmless, will label you as not worthy of trust. It is quite a price to pay and not one you can easily undo. Shift gears: Always check your facts. Be truthful. Even if you must give difficult news to others, be truthful so you don’t add doubt and confusion to a tough moment.



One Surefire Way to Step Out of a Manipulation

When you sense someone else is being manipulative, pause for a moment, and then say “Let’s break all of this into pieces and look at each piece.” Manipulation is a lot of things thrown together — falsehoods, generalized claims, gossip, lies, etc… Separate the pieces of a manipulation to stop its power. I have coached many on how to deal with a manipulator and they tell me that this technique is the one they use most often. It works.



What would you add to the list of manipulative behaviors noted above?



From my professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™

Related Posts:
Leadership – The Difference Between Influence & Manipulation
Manipulative Phrases: I Know You’d Do the Same for Me

©2020 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. I appreciate your sharing the link to this post on your social streams. However, if you want to re-post or republish the content of this post, please email info@katenasser.com for permission and guidelines. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.


Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.


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