Top 10 Best Manipulation Quotes

picture of a popular manipulation quote from an expert on manipulation

Are you ready to discover the secrets of persuasion and tap into the power of influence?

Well, then…

Wake up brother because you’ll need a lot more than a list of manipulation quotes 💊.

HOWEVER…

Our analysis of those quotes provides plenty of guidance and insights.

So here’s the first insightful manipulation quote you straight from our “Start Here” page:

helpful manipulation quote from an expert on manipulation

Always be suspicious of those who virtue-signal on avoiding manipulation

The full quote runs:

There’s only two types of people who discourage others from learning manipulation. Naive people, and manipulators.
We highly recommend you ignore both.

Lucio Buffalmano

So let’s help you now become more power-aware:

The Art of Influence: Quotes that Illuminate Tactics

“Things come apart so easily when they have been held together with lies.”

Dorothy Allison

Very powerful reminder that albeit manipulation “works”, it also comes with heavy costs.

And that’s all the more true in closer relationships and long-term relationships.

It’s also true when you’re dealing with great people.
And that’s because high-quality and power-aware people are also especially good at spotting manipulation -and so are Power University alumni-.

“Manipulation is the dark side of charisma.”

― Max Weber

Tough pill to digest for many, but largely true.
Also read our article:

Great Leadership Is Great Manipulation: Jocko Willlink Case Study

“When you know what a man wants you know who he is, and how to move him.”

― George R.R. Martin

True.
This is why you only share your true mission, goals, and passions with a few selected individuals.

Power Dynamics and Control: Quotes Revealing Manipulation

“You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.”

Abraham Lincoln

Another powerful reminder of the hidden costs of manipulation.

The more people you try to manipulate, the more likely it is some people will be smart and power-aware enough to see through your manipulation.

Con men look for human frailty to exploit. This is most often greed. Trump found a different vice: anger. The emotional are always the most susceptible to manipulation.

Pamela Meyer

Great observation on political manipulation.
Not that Trump “found it”, of course. It’s simply a common refrain for populists.

Safeguarding Against Manipulation: Wisdom from Quotes

“When you notice someone​​ does something toxic the first time, don’t wait for the second time before you address it.”

Shahida Arabi

This is one of those mantras that has you nodding but… That’s not really always true.

Sometimes, you want to observe, take note, and purposefully do little.

Some other times, you may want to end the relationship right away if it is a big red flag.

But still, thumbs up, because there are a lot of too-nice guys and too-nice women who need to hear this.
Also read:

How to Be A Good Asshole (5 Easy Steps)

“The success of the manipulation depends on the level of conviction and force of the denial.”

— Tess Binder

A good reminder of that Weber’s quote and the “dark side of charisma”.

But also a good reminder that much of the power rests on the receiver.
You’re never an empty box that’s being pushed around.

And an even better reminder to do the opposite of what people do.
Such as: trust those who admit their ignorance and bias. And assess the self-assured gurus even harder.

When you’re surrounded by a world of constant lies, manipulation, and deceit, that dark energy is bound to seep into you eventually.

Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman

Meaning: stop hanging out with turkeys and inveterate manipulators.

The concept of romantic love affords a means of emotional manipulation which the male is free to exploit, since love is the only circumstance in which the female is (ideologically) pardoned for sexual activity.

Kate Millett

Interesting take.
Not because it’s necessarily true, but because it’s the specular opposite of manosphere “gurus”. Red pill authors say that men are the romantic sex.

Generally speaking, both men and women can fall in love and be manipulated for it.

But, generally speaking, men have more scope to take active leadership to make her fall in love.
Hence: caution when you feel hopelessly falling in love is good advice for everyone.

Manipulation in Relationships: Quotes on Emotional Exploitation

“I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.”

Friedrich Nietzsche

Edit:
This has become my #1 favorite manipulation quote.

Absolute genius quote!

I had this same reaction whenever I realized someone wasn’t being straight.
Plus, unnecessary manipulation, lies and sneakiness cause the loss of respect and the erection of an invisible “wall” in-between.

It highlights the limitations of manipulation, over-Machiavellianism, and lies.
And it underpins one of our core values here at TPM.

And that is that albeit you want to learn manipulation, you also must put manipulation aside with your best relationships.
Flying higher and becoming an honorable man is necessary to have a good life with good relationships.

The price for not doing so is high.
And it’s not having any close or good relationship.

“Manipulative people are those who wish to be loved on their own terms.” 

David S. Viscott

Fantastic take!

It can indeed be a manipulative gambit to accuse a partner of not loving them “as they are”.
Especially when coupled with accusing of “trying to change them”.

It’s a way of saying “stop expecting more of me, take me as I am”. Which can be fair… But only if they’re being good partners.

It’s manipulative instead when poor partners take that approach. If you accept that manipulative frame,e the manipulator can keep things convenient for them -and costly to you-.

“Women work very hard to prevent or stop their sons from being manipulated by their women, like their sons’ fathers were or are being manipulated by their sons’ mothers.” 

Mokokoma Mokhonoana

LOL, good one.
Also see our articles on women’s manipulation, including this popular one:

  • Betaization: how women turn men into “nice guy” providers
Female Domestication: How Women Control Men & Relationships

“A skilled manipulator can make you question your own reality.”

Gaslight, directed by George Cukor (1944)

I’m not a big fan of this quote, to be honest.

It places all the power on the manipulator, and zero power on the victim. That’s inherently disempowering and, may I say it, “b*tch talk”.

So stop being a victim and start empowering yourself.
And if you want to learn more about gaslighting look no further:

  • Gaslighting: the ultimate guide to spotting gaslighting
Gaslighting Power Dynamics: 17 Signs You’re Being Manipulated

Media and Manipulation: Quotes on Perception Management

“Behind every angry mob there is a puppeteer pulling the strings.”

Marty Rubin

Rubin should have seen the MAGA idiots going to jail for Trump :).

It’s a point we’ve made several times and with several examples here on TPM:

“There are three types of lies — lies, damn lies, and statistics.”

Benjamin Disraeli

As a rule of thumb: never trust someone just because they seem to be quoting research or data.

The successful businessman today apes the politician.
He has adopted the glitter and the ballyhoo of the campaign (…) and pseudo-democracy slightly tinged with paternalism.

Edward Bernays

Bernays should see today’s influencers.
Including businessmen who turn influencers to make more money.

“Is there any point in public debate in a society where hardly anyone has been taught how to think, while millions have been taught what to think?”

― Peter Hitchens

Great question.

Critical thinking skills are THE most underrated, under-developed, and crucial skill to make the world a better place. And that includes making democracies function better.

Personal Growth and Empowerment: Quotes to Stay Resilient

“You are a manipulator. I like to think of myself more as an outcome engineer.”

J.R. Ward

LOL, such a genius quote.
Beware of people who are always accusing others of dark-triad traits:

Jordan Peterson: (accuses everyone he disagrees with of being narcissists)

And, as I shared here, I’d even avoid over-diagnosing others.

“Nothing manipulates people more than the desire to please.”

Zoe Durlock

Hmmm, yeah, there is something here.
But I wouldn’t say that’s the best example of “manipulation hook”.
Yes, you lose when you’re too much of a people-pleaser. But not so much out of being manipulated. More for being too low power and unassertive and putting yourself last.

“Don’t become manipulated by the illusion of who you think you are, or who you think you should be.”

Steven Redhead

Yep.
It is a good technique for both a persuader or manipulator to leverage that ideal self.

“The less you respond to negative people, the more powerful your life will become.”

Robert E. Baine, Jr.

Not always true -sometimes you must respond-.

But fantastic quote nonetheless.

A powerful insight for the many who miss out on the power of ignoring, and the mental power of remaining unaffected.

“When you acquire enough inner peace and feel really positive about yourself, it’s almost impossible for you to be controlled and manipulated by anybody else.”

— Wayne Dyer

Great reminder that with inner strength also comes a lot of outer-world strength.

“People who are easily manipulated are those who are not sure of themselves.”

― Alain de Botton

Great reminder that inner insecurity undermines external strength.

Still, if you allow us to be the usual pain-in-a** nitpicker we are, people who are too sure of themselves can also be rather easy to manipulate.

“If you are an approval addict, your behaviour is as easy to control as that of any other junkie. All a manipulator need do is a simple two-step process: Give you what you crave, and then threaten to take it away. Every drug dealer in the world plays this game.”

― Harriet B. Braiker, Who’s Pulling Your Strings

Yep, same as above: inner neediness provides easy hooks for manipulation.

Recognizing Manipulation: Quotes on Awareness

Moving past manipulation is a dual process.
On one hand, you look at the manipulators outside. On the other hand, you must also look at the manipulator within. Most people forget the second part

Lucio Buffalmano

Example:

Lucio: (realizes he was subconsciously undermining her ex girlfriend’s self-esteem)

Good reminder that you may not be as innocent or candid as you like to portray yourself to be (including to yourself).

“Everyone sees what you appear to be, few experience what you really are.”

― Niccolò MachiavelliThe Prince

We couldn’t make a list of best manipulation quotes without Machiavelli in it, could we?
I’d add to this that it may be a smart approach to only reveal your true self to a selected few.

“When someone tells you that there is no agenda, you can be certain there is nothing but an agenda.” 

Craig D. Lounsbrough

LOL, good one.
Except that… This is also true when people do not say that there is no agenda :).

“Psychopaths view any social exchange as a ‘feeding opportunity,’ a contest or a test of wills in which there can be only one winner. Their motives are to manipulate and take, ruthlessly and without remorse.” 

Robert D. Hare

Good reminder of what we say on TPM, which makes for another great quote by the way:

There are no small red flags.
Red flags are to poor characters like thunders are to storms. Once you spot one, there’s usually more and worse to come.

Lucio Buffalmano

This is one one Power University’s core competencies is learning red flags, and how to correctly assess people.

“If you can manipulate news, a judge can manipulate the law. A smart lawyer can keep a killer out of jail, a smart accountant can keep a thief from paying taxes, a smart reporter could ruin your reputation – unfairly.”

― Mario Cuomo

A good reminder of not trusting everything you hear.

“The art of pleasing is the art of deception.” 

Luc De Clapiers

A good reminder to be careful of those who are a bit too complimentary.

Ethical Influence: Quotes on Positive Persuasion

Great leadership is great manipulation

Lucio Buffalmano

This may sound cynical, and… In part, it is.

But a tad of cynicism is good.

Plus, there is a certain overlap between persuasion and manipulation –see our case study here-.
I can hardly imagine one can be great at one, and clueless about the other.

Put in more direct terms, it means that:

To be a greatly persuasive leader, one must also, necessarily, be well-versed in manipulation.

There is also a more “good” side for knowing manipulation, though.
And it’s that the more you know about both persuasion and manipulation, the better you can ensure that you avoid the latter.

Also see our article:

Persuasion vs. Manipulation: Understanding the Fine Line

False Manipulation Quotes

“No one believes a liar. Even when she’s telling the truth.”

Sara Shepard

Good quote on the importance of reputation.

Unluckily, just not true.

Plenty of people fall for the same old lies -and liars-.

“An apology without change is just manipulation.”

Unknown

Not always.
See our full article on “when an apology without change is manipulation“.

 “Manipulation is the way of the weak and insecure.”

― Shannon L. Alder

Another one of those manipulation quotes that sound great.
People would love it to be true. It validates their self-righteous egos that they -who are NOT manipulators of course- are strong.

But it’s just not true.

Or, at least, only partially true.
Manipulation can stem from an inability to be assertive or high power. In then overlaps with passive aggressiveness.
But it’s also false and misleading because plenty of dominant, powerful, and successful men also manipulate. Including some who do also have the courage to speak straight some of the time.

“Vision without integrity is not mission — it’s manipulation.”

Howard G. Hendricks

It’s really a good-sounding quote and we approve.
However, it’s entirely possible to be honest about a morally deplorable mission, and still recruit others without manipulation.
As a matter of fact, the opposite is true. It’s people with integrity who require manipulation to follow the many poor leaders and missions of this world.

“No love is conditional. If love is conditional, it’s just some sort of manipulation masquerading as love.”

— Donald Miller

To me, this sounds like Pollyanna who says that to other women in search of validation.
Deep down, she may want to delude herself that there is a prince who will love her no matter what.

And even worse, that’s not just naive, but even plain entitlement mentality.

Stop expecting unconditional love. Instead, do your part to deserve that love.

“Manipulation is a form of power, but it is an ugly and destructive one.”

― Richard Bach

This sounds overly dramatic.
Manipulation is a form of power, but it’s not always ugly. And not always destructive, either. Not any more than other forms of power can, anyway.

“If we inspire people, they will give us more than we asked for. If we manipulate them, they will give us exactly what we paid for” 

Simon Sinek

Simon Sinek is THE man when it comes to naive cringe.

Better yet, this quote shows how inspiration, leadership, and manipulation overlap.
In my experience, “inspiring” people means to sell them hot air BS. Hot air BS instead of, say, paying them more. Or giving them more holidays.

Also see our seminal article on corporate manipulation.

As for Sinek, watch this inspirational video of his.
And if you don’t see the BS, you very much need to spend more time on this website:

Sinek: (nonsense motivational talk on selflessnes as the #1 trait to enter elite fighting units)

Read more in our:

Naive Self-Help: 10 Popular But False Self-Help Myths

“We live in a world where unfortunately the distinction between true and false appears to become increasingly blurred by manipulation of facts, by exploitation of uncritical minds, and by the pollution of the language.” 

Arne Tiselius

This quote leverages the “uniqueness frame”.

Similar formats are “in our times of unparalleled challenges… ” or “our society has become…”.
This format is often BS because whatever comes next is seldom truly unique. In this case, I doubt there has been any “manipulation-free” period in history.
Even the Garden of Eve wasn’t :).

“The maniacal lunatics in control of our society know exactly how human beings tick and they are masters at manipulation.” –

Bruce McDonald

Another example of someone crying manipulation-wolf while actually being manipulative himself.

This is the “conspiracy format”.

And it works like this:

The less the manipulator’s audience trusts institutions, the more influence he acquires.

It’s an old game that’s very popular these days.

Red pill gurus play it as well.
The format is “society lies to you with comfortable lies (but I tell you the cold harsh truth)”. Or “the feminized society is ruining you (but I’m on your side)”.
Neither of those is necessarily wrong. It’s the way the guru presents it that it’s manipulative.

There’s an endless stream of gurus using this format.
For example Brett Weinstein, London Real, and recently, even Jordan Peterson:

Jordan Peterson: our tyrannical, idiotic, virtue-signaling government is now dictating how you should eat

Fixing Famous Quotes

If you don’t give education to people, it is easy to manipulate them.”

Pele

TPM rewrite:

If you don’t educate people, it’s easy to manipulate them. But it’s even easier to manipulate them when you’re their most trusted educator.

Lucio Buffalmano

I find it disturbingly elitist to pass all uneducated people for muppets.
Plenty of uneducated people can be well-discerning men.

Which calls for our next quote:

Smart and unadecated is still smart.
It’s stupid and educated that is issue.
The stupid acquires just enough literacy to gobble up all the available BS.

Lucio Buffalmano

And now let’s spruce it up with some intersexual dynamics:

The casting couch exists in every business where there is power dynamics and manipulation.

Tisca Chopra

Hmmm… Partially true.
Remove “manipulation” and the quote is good.

Otherwise, it’s simply the take of those who don’t understand human nature.

The “casting couch” doesn’t even need manipulation. The casting couch can be a very open and even “honest talk” exchange.

This is not to say it’s moral or “good”, of course.
And there are costs as well. Such as the loss of productivity if there were better candidates. And a direct loss for any other candidate who’s not willing to “couch”.

But still, the casting couch isn’t necessarily about manipulation.

Quotes On Manipulating A Manipulator

“The best way to manipulate a man is to make him think he is manipulating you.”

– John Smith

“It was easier to manipulate someone if they didn’t perceive you as a threat.”

– Stephanie Wrobel

Appear dumber than your mark

– Robert Greene, The 48 Laws of Power

All these say the same thing.
We agree best with Wrobel.

See more here:

How to Manipulate a Manipulator

TPM Approved Manipulation Quotes

“Life is a constant daily manipulation.”

– Deyth Banger

This may sound a bit too cynical.

But if we take “manipulation” in the larger sense, including presenting one’s best side, then it’s absolutely true.
Worth reminding ourselves that we acquire highly distorted views of how strong, effective, successful, or happy others are.

Most claims you read about psychological manipulation are rubbish.

Dominic Cummings

Some of that is fueled by the manipulative marketing of “tricks” and “secrets” of dark psychology books and courses.
See our dark psychology article for a better overview.

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