Toxic people like malignant narcissists, sociopaths, and others with antisocial behavior use manipulation in their relationships in order to exploit, hurt and demean their family members, intimate partners, and their friends. They make use of different tactics in order to deflect responsibility and also to distort the reality of their target victims. Although normal people also resort to this kind of behavior every once in a while, abusive narcissists make use of these to n extent that is excessive just so that they can escape accountability for things that they have done.
Gaslighting is a tactic of emotional manipulation which can be described in a variation of three words. “You are overreacting” “this didn’t happen” “are you nuts?” Gaslighting is an insidious tactic of manipulation, and toxic people love to use it because with it they can effectively erode and distort other people’s sense of reality. This will chip away at a person’s ability to trust themselves and consequently disables them from feeling justified for calling out on mistreatment and abuse.
Projection is a sure sign of toxic people. A person will use it if he or she is chronically not willing to accept their own shortcoming. They will do everything in their power to get away from being held accountable for their actions. Projection is a mechanism of defense where a person is constantly displacing the responsibility for their negative traits and behavior by attributing it to someone other than themselves. Ultimately, it is a method of digression for them where they can avoid accountability and ownership.
Having a conversation with a toxic person is characterized by epic mind fuckery rather than mindful conversation.
Sociopaths and malignant narcissists are always using circular conversations, word salad, gaslighting and projection in order to take you off track and disorient you should be you challenge or even disagree with them. They use these tactics to frustrate, confuse and discredit you, distracting your attention from the problem and then make you feel a sense of guilt simply for being a person with feelings and actual thoughts which differs from their line of thinking. To them, you stand in the way of their perfect, selfish world.
GENERALIZATIONS AND BLANKET STATEMENTS
Not all of the malignant narcissists are intellectual masterminds. There are also a lot of intellectually lazy people. Instead of carefully trying to consider a perspective that is different from theirs, they will generalize everything or anything that comes out of your mouth. They will make blanket statements without acknowledging the different nuances of your argument. They will rather try to label you to dismiss your perspective altogether.
MISREPRESENTING YOUR FEELINGS AND THOUGHTS DELIBERATELY TO THE POINT OF ABSURDITY
Your legitimate emotions lived experiences, and differing opinions will be translated into evidence of irrationality and character flaws in the hands of a sociopath or a narcissist.
Toxic people like these are always weaving tales in order to reframe the things you say so as to make you feel absurd for sharing your opinions. If you tell your toxic friend that their way of speaking to you makes you feel unhappy, he or she will try and put their own opinions in your mouth like – “are you saying you are perfect?”, “are you saying I am a terrible person?”, Etc. Through methods like these, they are trying to make you feel guilty for trying to establish healthy boundaries and protect yourself from their manipulation.
MOVING THE GOAL POSTS AND NITPICKING
Using impossible standards and personal attacks differs a destructive criticism from constructive criticism. Toxic people do not really want you to improve, and they will just nitpick and try to drag you down by turning you into a scapegoat. Abusive sociopaths and narcissists make use of logical fallacies like “moving the goalposts” so that they can find the reason to be dissatisfied with you perpetually. Even though you may move mountains (metaphorically) and provide all evidence there is to validate that you are innocent, they will set up another level of expectation to make sure you fail in their eyes.
CHANGING SUBJECTS TO EVADE ACCOUNTABILITY
In this form of a tactic, the toxic person will literally digress from a topic and redirect your attention to an issue that is completely different altogether. Narcissists do not like it when you are on a topic which will hold them responsible for anything. They will do anything in their power to reroute the discussion so that it will benefit them. Are you complaining about something they did wrong the other day? They will bring out a mistake which you committed five years ago. There are no limits to their digression with respect to subject content and time.
THREATS THAT ARE COVERT AND OVERT
Narcissistic abusers are always feeling threatened whenever their grandiose sense of the self, surface level superiority and an extreme sense of self-entitlement are challenged by another. They will make demands on others that are unreasonable and will constantly punish you if you do not live up to their expectations of serving their purpose.
Instead of compromising maturely or tackling disagreements, they will divert your perspective and your sense of self-identity by instilling a sense of fear about the resultant outcome if you disagree with them. Their daily mantra becomes making ultimatums like warning you they will do one thing if you do not comply with their demands and wishes.
The more they are able to control your emotions, the more you will lose control over your reality and even the truth for what it is. Learning about the different tactics used by manipulative people to rob you of your own sense of self-worth will give you the right knowledge so that you can get back the control over your life and stay away from such toxic people. It can also teach you what to do if these people are close family members or your partner’s parents. Remember, your first responsibility is your own well being.