“Negotiator Do You Know How To Combat And Use Manipulation” – Negotiation Tip of the Week

“There’s nothing wrong with manipulation, as long as you’re the one controlling it.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert (Click to Tweet)

Negotiation Tip of the Week

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“Negotiator Do You Know How To Combat And Use Manipulation”

Warning: The following information will enhance your awareness of how to manipulate people. The intent is not to provide you with details for that purpose. Instead, the resulting ideas aim to allow you to protect yourself from those that would use manipulation tactics against you.

Recognizing the forces of manipulation is a necessity when dealing with people. Because, while you’re intentionally or unintentionally manipulating others, other people are manipulating you. The latter leads to the mood you adopt when interacting with people, the impact that it’ll have on future interactions with your allies and those that oppose you, and the shifting path that it might lead to per your future. Thus, you should always be mindful of the effects that manipulation will have on everyone in an environment – because future situations will be altered based on the reshaping of your current circumstances.

The following are ways to recognize when manipulation is prevalent, along with how to use and combat it.

Addressing Manipulation

  • Recognizing mindset – Before you can contest anything, you must be aware of what you’re confronting. You should be mindful of the potency of someone’s attempt at manipulation (i.e., weak, non-threatening, substantial, imminent threat, etc.) to assess the force you’ll need to combat it. While making that assessment, consider your current mindset, those of your challengers, and where your mental perspective will be after your response. By doing that, you’ll be adopting a long-game strategy, which will hopefully allow you to avert knee-jerk reactions to situations. Because, the latter can leave you in a position of re-action, versus being proactive and causing others to respond to your stimuli.
  • Priming mindset – To assist in your efforts of making others reactive to your stimuli, consider how you can shape their opinions and perspectives before they have substantial interactions with you. You can accomplish this by
  1. being viewed as challenging the opposition that opposes your target audience
  2. the alignments you have with other thought leaders of their ilk – those that they respect and aspire to be like
  3. being perceived as a supporter of the efforts of those whose alignments you seek

The arching point is, you have to control your message and persona to be effective when combating manipulation or being manipulative.

Forms of Manipulation


  • Silent treatment – Recall the last time someone gave you the silent treatment. If it was someone of significance in your life, you probably experienced some form of dread. You may have wondered what you’d done, what might occur next, and what action you should be prepared to adopt. For sure, you went into thought mode. And that’s the effect that giving someone the silent treatment can have on your target. It can put them into a state of uncertainty. But, be aware that such treatment can also force your subject into the opposing camp to seek comfort from such treatment. So be attentive to when and how you use it.
  • Body language gestures that can enhance the projection of silent manipulation
  1. demeanor – calm acting in upsetting situations (e.g., either you or they get riled up, while the other party is calm and detached, leaving the other exasperated)
  2. display – displaying inappropriate or untimely smiles, smirks, frowns, etc., to convey a sense of foreboding or intimidation
  3. spatial – occupying someone’s personal space to make them experience uneasiness

  • Social proof – Seek to have positive aspects about yourself, your position, and your perspective in environments that your target frequents. That will shape how they perceive you and your actions, which is to imply that they’ll be more amenable to following your leads.
  • Guilt – Seek to make the subject feel guilty. Accomplish this by having your target’s peers side with your opinions. The silent message becomes something must be wrong with you (i.e., the target). Only the uninformed have such beliefs.


  • Flattery – When people sense sincere flattery from you for them, it creates an attraction in you from them. To enhance your manipulation efforts, compliment others for an achievement or accomplishment that they’ve made and do so in the manner that suits their personality. While some individuals seek praise in front of others, some prefer more subtle acknowledgments. Know the form that best fits the target you’re bestowing adoration upon to maximize its effect.   
  • Coercion – When you’re in a position of authority or supremacy over someone, it can be easy to coerce them to bend to your will. The challenge becomes, if you make someone engage in actions by that means, they may hold grudges against you, and seek ways to ‘even the score’ at a later date. Thus, you will have created a future problem for yourself. If you feel compelled to coerce someone into acts that they’d rather avoid, understand the potential ramifications of your actions. 

Recognizing and Using Silent Forms of Manipulation

  • Gradual movements – Move gradually; it attracts less attention. It’s easy to become susceptible to being manipulated. That’s especially true when it occurs over an extended interval of time. During such times of the manipulation’s effects, you and your environment become normalized. That means you accept what transpires in your environment as being ordinary. You perceive manipulative occurrences as being non-threatening. Thus, you become numb to the travails that manipulation may thrust upon you, while you sit calmly and not adopt actions to protect yourself.
  • Employment – To combat the protracted form of this manipulation, be observant about the day-to-day occurrence that suggests you alter your opinion about a matter. And if you wish to use this form against others, distract them from paying attention, while you employ your manipulative actions.    


To combat any form of manipulation, you have to be aware of its presence, the structure it exists in, and the intent that it makes to alter the current situation or environment. By identifying those factors, you’ll have a better position to manage the environment you’re in and use the effects of manipulation to your advantage.

Keep in mind that people don’t like the sensation of being manipulated if it’s to their detriment – but they don’t mind when it’s to their advantage. Thus, to enhance your efforts to manipulate others, have them perceive your actions as being favorable to them. Do that while being mindful to ward-off the efforts of those that would manipulate you to your disadvantage. And everything will be right with the world.

Remember, you’re always negotiating!

Listen to Greg’s podcast at https://anchor.fm/themasternegotiator

After reading this article, what are you thinking? I’d like to know. Reach me at Greg@TheMasterNegotiator.com

To receive Greg’s free “Negotiation Tip of the Week” and the “Sunday Negotiation Insight” click here https://www.themasternegotiator.com/greg-williams/

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