manipulation in discussion

How to Identify Manipulation in Discussion?

Manipulative tricks do work in the digital era in which people communicate much more than before. When you’re speaking tete-a-tete with somebody who knows all the subtleties of human psychology, you are always at risk! So how to prevent yourself from cheating and manipulation? Read the lines below, and you’ll become an expert in this!

Surprisingly, manipulating is becoming more and more popular on the Internet despite that fact that potential victims have a lot of time to think and analyze, trying to reveal the signs of manipulation.

Any manipulation has logic errors in its structure. Try to notice the moment when the deceiver, knowingly or not, defends his point of view without arguments or starts using emotional techniques to cause a sense of guilt or some other tricks to convince everyone that he was right. That’s the moment when you can end the discussion!

Common Manipulative Tricks in Discussion

– Excessive informing. The manipulator is trying to bring a lot of arguments to confuse the interlocutor. Not only it’s impossible to compare these arguments, but also your information channels can’t withstand such a load. When you use the only argument while the opponent throws at you a dozen, the psyche may not stand, and the surrounding people will see the victory of the manipulator. But note that your opponent can easily lose the basic idea when people are already on his side. Pay attention to this moment.

– Psychological tricks. These include any manipulation of the emotional state of the interlocutor – guilt, flattery, vanity, the humiliation of personal qualities, etc.

– Irritation. It deserves a separate paragraph as there are a bunch of methods: allusions, mockery, irony, sarcasm, unjust accusations, etc. All this is intended to break the emotional balance and make the opponent take the issue as personal.

– The use of incomprehensible words and terms. This technique is effective if the opponent hesitates to ask the meaning of terms not to show the superiority of the manipulator. And if he’s afraid to ask, how can he argue? The manipulator wins.

– Flattery. “As an educated person, you will agree on that…–” such phrases put a dilemma of whether to accept an argument and flattery or reject it along with your education.

– Avoiding discussion. “Your behavior makes it impossible to continue the discussion.” This trick is often used when the manipulator has no more arguments. He’s then trying to provoke a conflict to displace the focus from the search for the truth.

– Appealing to the reason of an argument. The manipulator does not comment on your arguments – instead, he appeals to the reason of these arguments. For example, “You say it just because you feel ashamed.”

– The change of emphasis in statements. You should remember that a single example can never show you the whole picture, and vice verse. Manipulators always have a lot of stories of success to tell, but ask yourself whether they are typical or just exceptions.

– The refutation of the strongest argument. Why break the all opponent’s arguments if you can find the most vulnerable and thereby prove that all the others are the same?

– The request for a clear answer. Despite the fact that this method seems to be honest, in fact, the manipulator wants to get a clear “yes” or “no.” Not all the questions in the world can be answered “yes.”

– Labeling. Abusive metaphors, epithets, comparisons, etc. are cause negative attitude, which allows the manipulator to gain a psychological victory. To avoid the hassle, manipulators always hang tags not directly on the opponents but their beliefs, attitudes, and ideas.

– Twisting words. A brilliant example of manipulative art. The manipulator takes the opponent’s past statement in a somewhat different interpretation and requires an explanation. This affects not only the surrounding public but also the opponent himself. If there’s enough time for a dispute, you can easily detect spoofing, but if the time is limited, most likely, you’ll be defeated.

– Apparent carelessness. If the dispute is long, with a lot of arguments, the manipulator will always find time to “forget” the most important argument of the opponent, as well as other points that are on his side.

– The charge of theorizing. Nobody likes theorists. When people hear something like “Well, it’s just a theory, it’s all on the paper,” they tend to take the point of view of the manipulator, forgetting that some things just cannot be implemented without a thorough preparation on the paper.

manipulation in discussion
manipulation in discussion

To summarise, often the ultimate goal of the manipulator (if the discussion goes between 3 or more persons) is to pull the audience on his side. This trick generalizes all that was stated above. So once the manipulator gains the sympathy of others, he becomes stronger while the opponent feels incredible pressure and condemnation.

Remember that the best way to win an argument in not to get involved.  All manipulative examples that you have read above apply to a dispute that has already begun, and for which there is no reason for.

Of course, there are moments in life when a dispute or discussion is essential. Therefore, study methods of manipulation and cite their traits right in the face of the manipulator – it will disarm him. Ideally, write a statement of such person and analyse each of its logical errors.

Always and in everything pay attention not to words but the structure on which they are based. Look for logical errors in the argument of the interlocutor, especially if you feel manipulated.

Editor’s Note: Check out the books ‘Influence Science and Practice’ By Robert Caldini, ‘The Structure of Magic’ by John Grinder and Richard Bandler (paying attention on chapters outlining ‘The Meta Model’) and ‘The Art of Thinking Clearly’ by Rolf Dobelli, if you are interested in becoming a jedi-master at having a solid reality and never falling for someone else’s bullshit, manipulation, lies or marketing ever again! (I am not an affiliate of these books; I do not get paid to recommend them, but recommend them because they are the best books that I personally have read on the subject and have helped me allot!) Good luck!


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