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Do You Recognize These Four Signs of Emotional Manipulation?

Emotional Manipulation Is More Common Than You Think

Do you ever feel like someone is taking advantage of your good will, your generosity, or your kindness? Do you ever feel as if you want to do one thing, but someone else is pressuring you to do another? Emotional manipulation is a tool common in relationship power struggles. 

The tools of emotional manipulation are very common and blatant, while some are more subtle in their execution, despite their common use.

Learn to identify the tools of manipulation so that you may avoid abusive situations and relationships. You might find that you are experiencing manipulation every day situations without even realizing it. Free yourself from manipulation and from abusers.


“Everyone needs to know how worthless you really are.” / “I will show everyone how what is wrong with you.” / “You don’t belong here and nobody will accept you.”

Humiliation, something that can happen in public and in private, is a vicious tool of manipulation that makes its victims feel less than their true worth and reduced to submission. Through bullying, humiliation comes as a result of mental and emotional mistreatment brought to set on embarrassment.

Humiliation brings about a stigma, which makes its victim feel like they don’t fit in, standing out as an outcast with some sort of flaw or spoiled identity. An abuser can make their victim feel unworthy through criticism, name calling, and putting them down.

Guilt and Blame

“It’s you’re fault this happened!” / “You’re responsible for this.” / “How could you let this happen?”

Guilt is a common tool of emotional manipulation and is often used as a default because it’s so easy to do. All someone has to do is make you feel responsible for something that has gone wrong to manipulate your feelings.

The guilt of failing to live up to some kind of standard, behavior, or idea is a crippling oppression that can make people feel terrible about themselves and create inner conflict that leads to depression and anxiety.

When someone uses the tool of guilt to manipulate, the next step leads to a reconciliation such as punishment, shame, or some kind of trade-off to work off the guilt.


“If you really cared about me, you’d do this.” / “If you gave me X, I’d be happy.” / “You’ve forced us into this position.”

Pressure is a more subtle, yet extremely common tool of emotional manipulation. Pressure can be applied and pressure can build up over time. Someone can pressure us into doing something we don’t want to do and that is against our best judgement through threats, applying guilt, and through other tools of manipulation.

Pressure can result from feeling guilty, feeling inadequate, feeling afraid, or not having or being enough. Being in a stressful situation for a prolonged period of time can build up and cause a gambit of emotional and physical dis-ease, which leads to a continual cycle of stressful situations and relationships.

Bad Attitude

“You make me feel this way.” / “Could you be any more annoying?” / “What do you want from me?”

A bad attitude is a nasty state of being that inflicts fear, anxiety, and stress on its victims. When we give others a bad attitude, we are communicating through fear and ego. An attitude stands in the way of true connection and creates relationships based on superficial feelings and insecurities, just to meet certain ends.

A bad attitude can communicate itself without words and is something people can sense. Attitudes can portend aggression, defensiveness, disregard, and disrespect. Attitudes are toxic and leave its victims feeling uncomfortable and afraid of the backlash or “punishment” that is to come.


Leslie, Inc. offers solutions for finding happiness through one-on-one coaching, mindful leadership retreats, and digital products. If you’re ready to GET HAPPY, check out Leslie’s guide packs. For more tips on achieving your state of happiness, sign up for Leslie, Inc’s weekly newsletter.

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