14 phrases manipulative people use to gain your trust

by Brendan Brown | April 25, 2024, 7:26 pm

“Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.”

– Rudyard Kipling

I couldn’t agree with Rudyard Kipling more.

Words can change our perceptions, feelings, thoughts, and beliefs. It can even influence our behaviors. Just as powerful as drugs, right?

The scary thing is this no one knows this truth more than manipulative people do. They’re incredibly skilled at carefully curating words to win your trust.

Recognizing the language manipulators use helps you see through the smoke and mirrors. It gives you the upper hand in any given situation. 

So let’s decode their language starting with these 14 phrases manipulative people use to gain your trust:

1) “Trust me, I know what’s best.”

Manipulative people use this phrase to position themselves as the expert at something. 

It’s their way of convincing you they are more qualified to make the decision rather than you. 

They want you to be less confident in your judgment and be more dependent on them.

2) “No one understands you like I do.”

This is another phrase manipulators use to create a sense of dependency. 

But that’s not all:

They also use these words to isolate you.

They’re trying to create a rift between you and others by constantly making you feel misunderstood by everyone else.

3) “Don’t listen to people who try to poison your mind against me.”

This is another isolation technique manipulators often resort to. 

This time, they want to cut off your relationships, especially with those who can expose them.

They make you think that these people are out to get them, but the truth is, the manipulator is out to get you.

4) “Can you really trust them?”

By now, you’d have noticed that manipulative people want to cut you off from your other relationships

This phrase, in particular, is a subtle version of that. Sure, they’re not directly bad-mouthing the other people in your life. But here’s what’s happening:

They’re planting seeds of doubt in your mind – which may lead you to question the trustworthiness of your family, friends, or colleagues.

5) “I always put you first, unlike others.”

As if it wasn’t enough that they’re casting doubt on your people, manipulators like to put themselves on a pedestal, too.

This strategy preys on the human desire for appreciation and special treatment.

They tell you you’re their priority, but the harsh reality is they’re only trying to build your loyalty and a sense of indebtedness towards them.

Here’s the kicker:

When the time comes that they want you to do something for them, they will circle back to this “debt.” 

Worse, when you don’t pay it back, they’ll use their supposed “putting you first” to make you feel guilty for not prioritizing them back. 

6) “I promise you won’t regret it.”

This one’s a classic.

They use assurance to steer you away from hesitation and gain consent.

The use of the word “regret” is strategic, too. 

Here’s how:

They’re tapping into our innate tendency as humans to avoid regret. 

Like marketers, they’re capitalizing on our FOMO:

Fear of missing out.

7) “I can’t believe you’re doubting my motives!”

When they fail to reassure you, manipulative individuals sometimes resort to guilt-tripping to try and invalidate your concerns.

They’ll play the victim card and use your doubt against you to regain control. 

This strategy is especially effective for people who don’t like conflict. So if you’re the non-confrontational type, keep your guard up and your manipulator radar on!

8) “I’ve always been there for you; you can’t doubt me now.”

This is yet another phrase used by manipulative people to quash your doubt.

They use past favors they’ve done for you to make you look like an unappreciative person. They do this hoping you feel guilty or annoyed at yourself for not trusting someone who “has been there” for you.

But wait, there’s more:

They also use this to question your sense of gratitude and use it as a bargaining chip to make you do things for them. 

Here’s one thing to keep in mind:

People who are genuinely there for you will always be there. Their support is unconditional, never expecting anything in return.

9) “You’re paranoid.”

Because they love dismissing your doubts and downplaying your concerns, manipulative people will sometimes make you feel as if you’re in the wrong.

They want you to second-guess your feelings, observations, and intuition.

They do this to push you into accepting their version of the story and dismiss any suspicions you may have about them or their behavior. 

But the use of this phrase gets even worse:

By labeling you as paranoid, they’re trying to make you question your own sanity. And when you fall into the trap of doubting your mental clarity, you make it easier for them to gain control.

It’s ironic, isn’t it?

They make you believe you’re in a distorted reality so they can push their own twisted reality.

10) “That never happened! You’re acting crazy.”

If they don’t question your reality, they will target your memory. 

Mind you, there’s nothing wrong with your memory. But manipulators will do everything possible to make you feel like there is.

Calling you crazy by questioning your recollection of events is their way of using gaslighting as a manipulation technique.

They convince you it never happened, so they can manipulate their way into changing how you feel about the situation.

If someone repeatedly uses this phrase on you, remember this:

You’re not crazy, but they may be.

11) “You misunderstood what I said.”

So far, they’ve manipulated you to doubt your sanity and memory. But they’re not done yet.

They also want you to doubt your perception.

They do this for a few reasons:

The first is to convince you that they’re the one who holds accurate information. This is also a planting-the-seed tactic. 

Let me explain how:

When they succeed at constantly making you question your interpretation, the tendency is you might end up relying on them often for clarification. Ergo, giving them a chance to manipulate the narrative.

Second, they say this to get off the hook, especially when what they said was inappropriate or offensive.

Don’t get me wrong.

There will be times when you will genuinely misunderstand what someone says. 

But when it happens all the time with the same person, that’s no longer on you. It’s on them.

12) “You might not see it now, but trust me, I’m really just trying to help you.”

One way of making you more receptive to their influence is by making it appear that they see the bigger picture better than you do. 

They try to paint a caring picture of themselves while downplaying your confidence in your decision-making. 

By making it seem like you have a narrow perspective, the manipulator’s ultimate goal is twofold:

First, make you more likely to run to them for guidance.

Second, make you less likely to question their motives.

13) “Let’s keep this between us.”

Hear me out:

People might use this phrase because they feel vulnerable and the information they share is a genuine secret: something too sensitive, personal, or private. In this case, keeping secrets usually goes without saying.

But here’s when this phrase becomes alarming:

When people use it even when the information they’re sharing is not something that usually requires strict confidence. 

They do this to make you feel special through a bond created by a shared secret, but the truth is, their intentions are almost often self-serving. 

Although it seems trivial, they tell you to keep it confidential because they may have just told you a half-truth or a deliberately crafted detail. This is their way of controlling the narrative and preventing you from seeking advice from others. 

So when someone requests secrecy for something supposed to be for public knowledge, that’s a major manipulation red flag right there!

14) “You’re overthinking things; you should listen to me.”

Manipulative people don’t want you to be smarter than them, so they use this phrase to discourage you from using your critical thinking skills.

Again, they love making you question your own judgment, so you’re more susceptible to their influence.

Because, at the end of the day, an independent thinker is no use to a manipulator.

Use the bigger picture

Some of these phrases might be used without malicious intent. So it’s important not to use them as your only basis for calling out a person as manipulative

Keep your guard up when you hear these phrases, but use your sensible judgment, too. 

Spot the patterns and the repeated use of words. Watch out for inconsistent explanations, gaslighting tactics, and any attempts to make you dependent on them.

Consider also the history of their behaviors, body language, the timing of their words, and the overall context in which the communication occurs. 

If everything screams manipulation, it most likely is. 

Trust your brain. Trust your gut. Trust yourself.

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