September 19, 2021 7:20 pm

Psychology Element

Have you ever met a sociopath?
Today, we’re going to go over the top 7 psychological tricks sociopaths use to manipulate you. Make sure to read until the end, because it’s one of the most manipulative tricks we’ve ever seen!

Number 1: Excessive Use of Compliments.

So even though it’s not that common to deal with a sociopath in your everyday life, some of us end up working with one, dating one, or even being related to one. Being able to spot the psychological tricks that they use to manipulate you is an invaluable skill you need. When you can recognize one of these tricks, you’re less likely to fall for them.

If there is one thing that nearly all sociopaths have in common, it’s their innate desire to use other people for personal gain, and their most common way of doing that is by using charm.

Everyone loves being complimented, and a lot of people love giving out compliments. But the thing about sociopaths is that sometimes, they’re like a salesman on steroids. 

They’ll drown you in seemingly genuine compliments– sometimes even just the right ones you need at the moment. This comes down to them trying to manipulate you into being more receptive to doing whatever they want. And if you’re too deep into their web, they’ll trick you into doing whatever they want even if it’s against your best interest.

But here’s the antidote to this form of poison. You can see through this psychological trick. Here’s how to tell the difference between manipulative flattery from someone trying to reel you in and a genuine compliment from someone who’s trying to make you happy.

You’ll find that instead of them saying something like “I enjoy spending time with you,” a sociopath will go absolutely over the top with saying things like “You’re the most extraordinary person I’ve ever met in my life.” Or, even after only knowing you for a short time of time, they’ll come out and say they “can’t live without you.” 

This is a major red flag. 

Excessive charm is a flaming hot red flag. The use of excessive charm and compliments tricks people into believing a sociopath is actually a good person. This slippery charm exonerates them from potential accusations and weaves a web of safety to trap you into thinking you can trust them.

Number 2: They’ll Change the Subject.

Psychological manipulation 101 for sociopaths is changing the subject.

Yes, switching between topics when you’re speaking with someone is normal, but when it comes to master manipulators, they change the topic to escape accountability. And not only will they change the subject, but they’ll change the point of discussion towards a topic that benefits them.

This strategy works to confuse you or frustrate you. Disagreeing with them during a discussion or an argument is something they see as a threat. 

Coming from a very insecure and dark place in their mind, shifting the conversation to something righteous is instinctive. You can even find examples of tricks like this in politicians, who use it to rile up the masses against the opposition.

And they’ll never get sick of this. They’re benefiting from this, and you’re giving them attention. To escape this, redirect their redirection. Tell them you want to focus on the original issue, and if they still won’t budge or admit anything, you’re better off pulling away from that entire conversation and focus on doing something more constructive. 

You can watch this article if you prefer watching instead

Number 3: They “Move the Goalposts”.

Another way sociopaths manipulate you is to employ a logical fallacy called “moving the goalposts.” This essentially means that they continuously find a way to be dissatisfied with you, and thus, pull you down and nitpick at your every accomplishment. 

You have to understand the difference between constructive criticism and downright destructive criticism. A sociopath criticizes you like it’s a personal attack. They hold you up to impossible standards and enjoy it when you fail. 

Even if you have somehow reached the “goal” or provided all the evidence you need to prove or validate your argument, they’ll run around and set up another insanely high expectation of you.

Number 4: Twisting Words.

If you think you’re about to have a deep, insightful discussion with a sociopath, you’re wrong. Sociopaths– and the likes of master manipulators and narcissists– use word salad, nonsense conversations, projection, and gaslighting to all around confuse you into not being able to disagree with them or challenge their control over you. 

Spend a few minutes arguing with such a manipulative person and you’ll barely remember how your argument began in the first place. It comes down to sociopaths being drama-lovers. They thrive off it and they live for it. And every time you fall for their trick of this mind-scramble, you’re feeding them a bottomless supply of attention.

Number 5: Blame Shifting.

Projection also falls under the umbrella of blame-shifting. This is more like a defense mechanism that the manipulator falls back on. Their motto is basically like “the best defense is a good offense,” and unfortunately, that’s harmful to you. 

When they shift the blame, suddenly, you’re on “the defense” while the sociopath remains innocent and blame-free. As a result, they’ll go back to feeling superior while you’re left on a guilt trip towards shame. Their trick is to make you feel selfish or even ungrateful after all the supposed “things they did for you.”

Their goal is to make you inadequate. A manipulative spouse may blame the victim if they– for example– find evidence on their phone that proves they are flirting or potentially cheating. 

A sociopath’s response? Outrage. They’ll act outraged that you’ve gone into their phone. And now, the focus is on you. They have effectively played the victim. They have minimized, circumvented, and turned around the problem– and gotten off scot-free. All the while, your justifiable anger is cut short.

Number 6: They Intimidate You With Empty Threats.

One absolutely baffling trick that sociopaths use is trying to intimidate you with empty threats. 

And while this is common behavior for them, it’s usually a last resort. What they do– and what you need to watch out for– is that they use threats to maintain their control over you. Usually, sociopaths are quite clever in disguising or gaslighting people into not seeing their tactics, but if you happen to be untricked by their behavior, they’ll feel their control slipping. This results in a more native reaction that’s not as thought out but is still insanely manipulative. 

Common phrases that they use include “you’ll be sorry for-” whatever your point of dispute is and their threats can escalate to even threats of suicides. Name-calling is also a manipulation tactic they employ. It’s a quick and effortless way to put you down and insult your intelligence, appearance, and behavior. 

Name-calling is also a psychology trick used to degrade you by criticizing your beliefs and opinions. If you’re arguing about a well-researched subject and an informed opinion that you have, a sociopath may feel threatened by you. Therefore, they’re not capable of making a respectful rebuttal. And instead of targeting your argument– which they know is right– they’ll target your person and undermine both your credibility and intelligence. Your informed opinion suddenly becomes “silly.”

See, research has proven that sociopathic behavior is most likely the result of nurture and their environment, sociopaths tend to be more nervous and more easily agitated than your average calm and meticulous psychopath. Because of this, they’re more volatile, and they’re more prone to emotional outbursts like fits of rage.

It comes down to them trying to push limits. Manipulators constantly test you and enjoy being able to push your limits to your breaking point. 

Number 7: Gaslighting.

This is the big one; the ultimate and most hurtful trick sociopaths use to manipulate you.

Gaslighting is arguably the most insidious manipulative trick used because not only does it work to exonerate them from something, but it will also eat away at you. It will affect the way you see yourself. It will make you question your sense of reality; and inevitably, it will break you down into not being able to call out abuse.

How do they do this? How do sociopaths disempower their victims? 

They lie about things. They’ll lie about their activities. And they’ll trick you into believing they’re the ones wronged, and that you are the one who’s wrong when you’re actually right– or they’ll manipulate you into believing they did something they didn’t do or that they didn’t do something that they actually did. Sociopathic colleagues at work may employ this tactic to hide their own lack of productivity or inefficiency. 

Unlike physical abuse, gaslighting emotionally cripples the victim. It’s very confusing. You’re not weak or at fault for falling for it. Sociopaths have been using these intimidating tactics their entire lives to get what they want. Gaslighting can be a variation of claiming “that didn’t happen” to blaming you to calling you crazy or paranoid or overly jealous. 

Now, how do you overcome a sociopath trying to gaslight you? You have to trust yourself and believe that you’re not just imagining what these master manipulators are trying to push onto you. Tell a friend as soon as it happens. Find a support network to fight the gaslighting effect. If you have to write things down straight after they happen, then do it. 

As the saying goes “I am sure that if the devil existed, he would want us to feel very sorry for him.”

Now, you’re armed with knowledge and will hopefully be ready to recognize and counter these tactics!

About the Author

Psychology Element helps you to understand your own psychology, your relationships, and various mental disorders.

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