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Triangulation: How Narcissists Manipulate Through Playing People Against Each Other

Uncovering the Dark Art of Triangulation Narcissists Use to Divide and Conquer

18 Warning Signs of a Narcissist Boss by Som Dutt

In today’s society, the term narcissist is often thrown around to describe anyone who may exhibit selfish or manipulative behavior. However, individuals with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) go beyond simple self-centeredness and utilize various tactics designed specifically for manipulation and control over others.

“Love without sacrifice is like theft”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb

One such tactic is triangulation — a method of playing people against each other in order to create conflict and emotional turmoil. This article will delve deeply into how narcissists use this technique to achieve power, as well as explore its effects on relationships, the workplace, and even family dynamics.

Key Takeaways

  • Narcissists use triangulation as a manipulative tactic to create drama and conflict within relationships. By playing people against each other, they gain a sense of power while simultaneously making themselves the center of attention.
  • Triangulation can occur in any type of relationship, including romantic partnerships, friendships, families, and workplaces. It is important to recognize red flags early on and trust your intuition when dealing with potential narcissists.
  • To protect ourselves from falling victim to toxic dynamics created by manipulating personalities like those found in people with Narcissism Personality Disorder (NPD), we must understand how these manipulation tactics work and set boundaries around communication to refuse to play into their games. Additionally, seeking professional assistance may be necessary for victims of abuse and manipulation.

Understanding Triangulation

Triangulation is a manipulative tactic commonly used by narcissists to create drama and conflict within their relationships. By playing people against each other, they gain a sense of power and control while simultaneously making themselves the center of attention.

“Half of the people lie with their lips; the other half with their tears”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb

A classic example of triangulation involves the narcissist pitting two people against each other, often by selectively revealing information or spreading false rumors about one person to another, triggering doubt and mistrust between them.

The narcissist then positions themselves as a mediator or rescuer in this artificially created conflict, using it not only to fuel their ego but also to facilitate further manipulation.

“Hate is the complement of fear and narcissists like being feared. It imbues them with an intoxicating sensation of omnipotence.”
― Sam Vaknin

In addition to fostering conflict among others, triangulation serves to enhance the narcissist’s feelings of supremacy and bolster their fragile self-esteem.

These individuals thrive on chaos and confusion as it allows them opportunities for validation while leaving those around them feeling insecure and off-balance — just what the narcissist desires most.

Smear Campaigns

Smear campaigns are a manipulative tactic frequently employed by narcissists to discredit and harm their victims, ultimately asserting control and power over them. This method involves spreading false accusations, gossip, and malicious content about the target through various channels such as social media or word of mouth.

“Narcissists are consumed with maintaining a shallow false self to others. They’re emotionally crippled souls that are addicted to attention. Because of this they use a multitude of games, in order to receive adoration. Sadly, they are the most ungodly of God’s creations because they don’t show remorse for their actions, take steps to make amends or have empathy for others. They are morally bankrupt.”
― Shannon L. Alder

One example of a smear campaign is when a narcissist circulates rumors at work that a colleague is incompetent or untrustworthy in order to undermine their professional standing.

As people begin to internalize these lies, they may distance themselves from the targeted individual, leaving them vulnerable to further manipulation by the narcissist.

Unfortunately, surviving a smear campaign can be challenging due to its pervasive nature; however, there are strategies one can employ to mitigate damage.

“Narcissists will never tell you the truth. They live with the fear of abandonment and can’t deal with facing their own shame. Therefore, they will twist the truth, downplay their behavior, blame others and say what ever it takes to remain the victim. They are master manipulators and conartists that don’t believe you are smart enough to figure out the depth of their disloyalty. Their needs will always be more important than telling you any truth that isn’t in their favor..”
― Shannon L. Alder


Isolation is a potent tool used by narcissistic people to control their victims. Narcissists often use isolation as a way to maintain their power over others, creating an environment where their victim feels entirely dependent on them.

“Often the narcissist believes that other people are “faking it”, leveraging emotional displays to achieve a goal. He is convinced that their ostensible “feelings” are grounded in ulterior, non-emotional motives. Faced with other people’s genuine emotions, the narcissist becomes suspicious and embarrassed. He feels compelled to avoid emotion-tinged situations, or worse, experiences surges of almost uncontrollable aggression in the presence of expressed sentiments. They remind him how imperfect he is and how poorly equipped.”
― Sam Vaknin

For example, a narcissistic partner may isolate their significant other from friends and loved ones by creating conflicts between them or belittling their relationships with those individuals.

Playing People Against Each Other

One of the most common tactics used by narcissists to manipulate others is playing people against each other. This strategy involves pitting two or more individuals against each other, often through triangulation, in an effort to create drama and conflict.

“You will never get the truth out of a Narcissist. The closest you will ever come is a story that either makes them the victim or the hero, but never the villain.”
― Shannon L. Alder

For example, a narcissistic co-worker may spread rumors about another colleague’s work performance to the boss in an attempt to gain favoritism or power in the workplace.

Similarly, a narcissistic friend may tell one person that another friend said negative things behind their back, causing tension within the social circle.


Gaslighting is a manipulative tactic that narcissists often use to gain power and control over their victims. This form of emotional abuse involves the intentional distortion of reality through lies, deceit, and misdirection, causing the victim to question their own perceptions and memories.

“pathological narcissists can lose touch with reality in subtle ways that become extremely dangerous over time. When they can’t let go of their need to be admired or recognized, they have to bend or invent a reality in which they remain special despite all messages to the contrary.”
― Bandy X Lee

In its simplest form, gaslighting entails repetitive manipulation tactics designed to create self-doubt within the victim. Narcissists using this method might consistently deny events or conversations ever occurred, blame others for problems they have caused themselves or exaggerate situations to make them seem worse than they really are in order to destabilize their target’s sense of security.

One classic example is a narcissist denying making hurtful comments only hours after doing so — then accusing the victim of being too sensitive or forgetful when confronted about it.

The Art Of Triangulation: How Narcissists Create Drama And Conflict

Triangulation is a manipulation tactic that narcissists use to create conflict and drama in relationships. It involves playing two individuals against each other, then bringing in a third person to take sides.

“No other being is lesser human than the one who thinks of others as such.”
― Abhijit Naskar

The narcissist plays the victim, persecutor, or rescuer role within this dynamic to gain control over others.

This behavior creates tension and mistrust among employees and makes it harder for them to work together effectively. Triangulation can occur in any type of relationship, including romantic partnerships, friendships, families, and workplaces.

– Trust your instincts when something feels off.

– Talk openly with others about their experiences with the potentially manipulative person.

– Set boundaries around communication and refuse to play into their games.

The Three Players In Triangulation: The Narcissist, Victim, And Rescuer

In triangulation, there are three players: the narcissist, the victim, and the rescuer. The narcissist is one who wants to maintain control or power in a particular situation and will use other people to achieve that goal.

“Being a control freak is a weakness, not a strength. If you can’t allow others to shine, you’re exhibiting signs of narcissism and showing a lack of self-confidence. It is isolation through ego.”
― Stewart Stafford

They create drama or tension by pitting two individuals against each other while making themselves appear innocent. The victim can be anyone involved in this triangle who is manipulated by the narcissist into feeling unsupported, abandoned, or attacked.

For instance, imagine a scenario where a husband frequently belittles his wife in front of others. It makes her feel small and insecure about herself.

It’s crucial for the victim to understand these dynamics because they occur not only within intimate relationships but also at home with parents/siblings/family members; workplace dynamics among employees including superiors/subordinates; social circles involving friendships/ acquaintanceship- anywhere people find themselves interacting with each other on a personal level where emotions come alive — triangulation happens!

“It is no accident that narcissists and altruists often have a magnetic attraction to one another. Can you see how perfect the fit is? The altruistic feels the need to selflessly serve others and this is just what the narcissist wants. Narcissists want to be worshipped and gratified in every way possible, and this is just what altruists offer, thinking it demonstrates their moral virtue.”
― Ellen Kenner

The Use Of Triangulation In Family Dynamics: The Narcissistic Parent’s Impact On Children

Triangulation is a common tactic used by narcissistic parents to manipulate children and gain control over their relationships. In this dynamic, the parent pits one child against another or triangulates themselves into conflicts between siblings.

“Maybe, the lesson we can all learn from the inner sadness of a Narcissist is to see through our own fabrications, our own illusions so that we can be set free to be real once more.”
― Shannon L. Alder

Narcissistic parents often use triangulation as a means of gaining attention, affirmation, and validation from their children. By playing them against each other in a constant battle for affection and approval, they create an environment of fear and insecurity that stunts emotional growth.

Children who grow up under these circumstances may struggle with forming healthy relationships later in life because they have been conditioned not to trust others; consequently leading them to end up with toxic friendships or partners who mimic their upbringing experience.

“Most of the narcissists are geniuses and masters of Psychology. But they are using their knowledge to eradicate, rather than to help humanity.”
― Mwanandeke Kindembo

The Impact Of Triangulation On Workplace Relationships: How Narcissistic Colleagues Use This Tactic To Gain Power

In the workplace, narcissistic colleagues often use triangulation as a manipulative tactic to gain power over their coworkers. This can manifest in a variety of ways, such as pitting two team members against each other or spreading rumors and lies about someone behind their backs.

“Speaking to narcissists and imagining having a normal human interaction is called delusion.”
Alice Little, Narcissistic Abuse Truths”
― Alice Little

The impact of triangulation on workplace relationships can be significant. It can lead to decreased productivity, increased stress, and tension among coworkers, and even result in some employees leaving the company due to toxic work culture.

Dealing with narcissistic colleagues who use this tactic can be difficult but recognizing it for what it is — manipulation — is crucial. Maintaining open communication and addressing any issues that arise directly with all parties involved can help prevent conflicts from escalating out of control.

The Impact Of Triangulation On Friendships: How Narcissistic Friends Use This Tactic To Control Their Social Circles

Narcissistic friends can use triangulation to manipulate their social circles. Triangulation involves a situation where a narcissist brings in another individual into an existing friendship with the intention of controlling it.

“Kindness from a narcissist is called an illusion.”
Alice Little”
― Alice Little

For example, suppose you have an insecure friend who uses triangulation to control her social circle. In that case, she may introduce rumors or gossip about one friend to another, causing a rift between them.

The impact of such manipulation on friendships could be devastating since it creates trust issues amongst friends who once trusted each other even leading up to permanent relationships damage beyond repair.

Why Narcissists Use The Triangulation Tactic

Narcissists use triangulation as a tactic to gain power over others due to their deep-seated insecurities and fear of abandonment, but understanding why they use this tactic is only the first step in protecting ourselves from manipulation — read on to learn how to set boundaries and safeguard yourself from narcissistic abuse.

“Narcissists often feign oppression because narcissists always feel entitled.”
― Criss Jami

Desire For Power And Control

Narcissists are often driven by the desire for power and control. They may manipulate others to achieve their goals, sometimes without even realizing it. This can manifest in a variety of ways, from trying to dominate conversations to controlling other people’s actions.

“True and real friends don’t feel the need to be praised and worshipped.”
― Michael Bassey Johnson

One tactic that narcissists commonly use is gaslighting, which involves making someone doubt their own perceptions or memories in order to gain control over them. Narcissists may also employ smear campaigns against those who challenge or threaten their position of power.

Fear Of Abandonment And Rejection

Narcissistic behavior often stems from a deep-seated fear of abandonment and rejection. This fear can motivate narcissists to use manipulation tactics such as playing people against each other to gain power and control over others.

“The deal with dating conceited men like him was that she’d hoped some of his excess self-esteem would rub off. Women always secretly hoped this: that dating a narcissist would give them confidence by osmosis. It never worked.”
― Chuck Palahniuk

Victims of narcissistic abuse often experience long-lasting effects on their mental health. Anxiety disorders, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are common after-effects of being manipulated by a narcissist.

Insecurity And Low Self-Esteem

Narcissists may seem confident and assured on the surface, but their behavior is often motivated by deep insecurity. They crave validation and approval from others to boost their self-worth and alleviate their feelings of inadequacy.

“Narcissists have a tough job because perfection is viewed as either all or nothing: If you are not perfect, you are imperfect, and if you are imperfect, you are nothing.”
― Theodore Millon

Narcissists’ inflated sense of self-importance is often unrelated to reality, causing them to overestimate their abilities and accomplishments. This grandiose view of themselves creates an unattainable standard that they struggle to maintain consistently, leaving them feeling vulnerable to criticism or rejection.

To cope with these insecurities, narcissists will go to great lengths to manipulate others into praising and admiring them — even if it means playing people against each other in the process.

“So many abusers survivors feel they were loved so little, as if the abuser was the most important person to receive love from. They forget that God loves them deeply and that is the only person’s love they need to validate their worth.”
― Shannon L. Alder

Despite this seemingly strong front put up by narcissists, they are plagued by intense feelings of self-doubt which impact not only themselves but also those close to them.

Effects Of Narcissistic Manipulation On Victims

The effects of narcissistic manipulation on victims can be severe and long-lasting, including emotional and psychological harm, damage to relationships, and disconnection from support networks.

Emotional And Psychological Harm

Narcissistic manipulation tactics can cause serious emotional and psychological harm to victims. These effects can include a loss of self-esteem, confidence, and trust in others.

“I was smarter than him because I had a pen and God was my writer.”
― Shannon L. Alder

Victims may also experience depression, anxiety, and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Victims of narcissistic manipulation often find themselves stuck in toxic relationships with no way out. They may feel isolated from support networks or fear retribution from their abuser if they try to leave the situation.

Over time, this abuse can erode a victim’s sense of self-worth and lead them to question their own judgment.

Damage To Relationships

Narcissistic manipulation can have devastating effects on relationships, causing lasting damage to victims. Emotional abuse and traumatization are just some of the tactics used by narcissists that can lead to relationship breakdowns.

“Concerning the narcissist- after having been so seemingly incredibly loving and gentle, compassionate and caring- it would be like a light switch had suddenly been turned off and “all of a sudden” they simply did not care. They turned into a cold person, someone without love, compassion, empathy or regard for the subject’s feelings what so ever. It’s like they suddenly and literally stopped being human.”
― Jacqueline Servantess

Narcissistic manipulation also creates a toxic power dynamic in relationships where the victim is often left feeling helpless and trapped. Control tactics such as gaslighting and psychological manipulation further exacerbate the situation.

Disconnection From Support Networks

Victims of narcissistic manipulation often suffer from disconnection or isolation which can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, and damage to their self-esteem. Narcissists tend to isolate their victims by cutting them off from friends and family members or by playing people against each other.

“Some people, in an attempt to mask their shortcomings dig lies so deep, they end up drowning in a sea of their own delusions!”
― Carlos Wallace

This type of abuse can be particularly damaging as it leaves the victim without a support system. It compounds the effect of emotional abuse that comes with narcissistic behavior.

Victims may begin to doubt themselves and believe they are deserving of this treatment, resulting in low self-worth and feeling trapped in their situation.

Identifying Narcissistic Manipulation

Recognizing red flags and trusting your intuition is key when identifying narcissistic manipulation.

Trusting Your Intuition

Trusting your intuition is an essential tool in identifying narcissistic manipulation. Narcissists are skilled at disguising their true intentions and may not always reveal their manipulative tactics outright.

“…Narsisist, kendini beğenmişle aynı şey değildir. Kendini beğenmiş biri başkalarını hor görür. Onları küçümser. Narsisist ise başkalarına fazla değer biçer; çünkü her insanın gözünde kendi görüntüsünü görür ve o görüntüyü güzelleştirmek ister.”
― Milan Kundera

One of the ways to trust your intuition is by paying attention to red flags or warning signs that something isn’t quite right. For example, if you feel uneasy around someone or notice that they often make you doubt yourself, these could be indicators of toxic behavior.

Another way to tune into your intuition is to observe how the person interacts with others.

“Someone asked me, “Who hurt you so badly?” I replied, “my own expectations.”
― Shannon L. Alder

Recognizing Red Flags

One of the most important things to keep in mind when dealing with narcissistic manipulation is recognizing red flags. These warning signs can help you identify when someone is trying to manipulate or control you.

“This story [“The Depressed Person”] was the most painful thing I ever wrote. It’s about narcissism, which is a part of depression. The character has traits of myself. I really lost friends while writing on that story, I became ugly and unhappy and just yelled at people. The cruel thing with depression is that it’s such a self-centered illness — Dostoevsky shows that pretty good in his “Notes from Underground”. The depression is painful, you’re sapped/consumed by yourself; the worse the depression, the more you just think about yourself and the stranger and repellent you appear to others.”
― David Foster Wallace

For instance, if they constantly question your reality or make you feel guilty for something that isn’t your fault, it may be a sign of gaslighting.

It’s important to trust your intuition, listen to what others say, and not dismiss any concerns you might have about someone’s behavior. Some other red flags include inconsistency in their words and actions, lack of empathy towards others’ feelings, and excessive need for praise and attention from others while disregarding the needs of those around them.

Listening To What Others Say

One of the key ways to identify narcissistic manipulation is by listening to what others say. Often, victims of narcissistic abuse will try to justify or excuse their abuser’s behavior, which can make it difficult for them to recognize that they are being manipulated.

“The main condition for the achievement of love is the overcoming of one’s narcissism. The narcissistic orientation is one in which one experiences as real only that which exists within oneself, while the phenomena in the outside world have no reality in themselves, but are experienced only from the viewpoint of their being useful or dangerous to one. The opposite pole to narcissism is objectivity; it is the faculty to see other people and things as they are, objectively, and to be able to separate this objective picture from a picture which is formed by one’s desires and fears.”
― Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving

For example, a victim of triangulation may believe that their partner is just trying to help them by pointing out flaws in their friend’s character. But if multiple people tell them that this behavior is manipulative and unhealthy, they may begin to see things differently.

Another way listening plays a role in identifying narcissistic manipulation is through recognizing patterns of behavior.

Responding To Narcissistic Manipulation And Protecting Yourself

Take control of the situation by setting boundaries, avoiding drama, seeking professional help and practicing self-care. Learn more about how to protect yourself from narcissistic manipulation in relationships, the workplace, and social settings.

Setting Boundaries

Setting boundaries is crucial when dealing with narcissistic manipulation. By establishing emotional and psychological limits, you safeguard yourself against their toxic behaviors.

“When I look at narcissism through the vulnerability lens, I see the shame-based fear of being ordinary. I see the fear of never feeling extraordinary enough to be noticed, to be lovable, to belong, or to cultivate a sense of purpose.”
― Brené Brown

However, it is important to remember that setting boundaries may trigger an aggressive response from the narcissist. They might interpret it as a personal attack or a sign of rejection and launch into abusive behavior.

Despite this risk, setting healthy boundaries is one of the most effective ways to protect yourself from narcissistic manipulation. It forces them to confront their own issues and lose control over those they seek to manipulate.

Avoiding Drama

One effective way to protect oneself from narcissistic manipulation is by avoiding drama. Narcissists often thrive on creating chaos and drama, which they use to put themselves at the center of attention and control those around them.

“I don’t care what you think unless it is about me.”
― Kurt Cobain

Setting strong boundaries can also help in avoiding drama. Establishing clear boundaries that dictate what behavior you will or will not accept from others can help prevent the manipulative tactics used by narcissists.

This includes limiting communication with individuals who consistently engage in negative behaviors or refuse to respect your boundaries, prioritizing self-care activities like exercise and hobbies, and seeking support from trusted friends or professionals when necessary.

“Half of the people lie with their lips; the other half with their tears”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Seeking Professional Help

If you are dealing with a narcissistic individual, it can be challenging to break free from their manipulation tactics. Seeking professional help is an essential step in responding to and protecting yourself from this type of abuse.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can also be helpful for individuals dealing with the effects of gaslighting, isolation, and other forms of emotional abuse. This approach focuses on identifying negative patterns of thinking and behavior and replacing them with healthier alternatives.

“Stay away from lazy parasites, who perch on you just to satisfy their needs, they do not come to alleviate your burdens, hence, their mission is to distract, detract and extract, and make you live in abject poverty.”
― Michael Bassey Johnson

Remember that seeking professional help does not mean giving up control over your life or admitting weakness. Rather, it is an act of empowerment that allows you to take charge of your mental health and well-being.

Practicing Self-Care

Dealing with a narcissistic manipulator can be emotionally draining and harmful to one’s mental health. That is why practicing self-care is crucial in protecting oneself from their tactics.

One way to practice self-care is by setting healthy boundaries. This means establishing clear limits on what you will and will not tolerate from the narcissist’s behavior.

Another way to practice self-care is by seeking professional help. Talking to a therapist or counselor can help you identify patterns of manipulation and develop strategies for dealing with them.

“These illustrations suggest four general maxims[…].
The first is: remember that your motives are not always as altruistic as they seem to yourself.
The second is: don’t over-estimate your own merits.
The third is: don’t expect others to take as much interest in you as you do yourself.
And the fourth is: don’t imagine that most people give enough thought to you to have any special desire to persecute you.”
― Bertrand Russell

Incorporating self-care into your daily routine can also involve doing things that bring joy and positivity into your life — this might include spending time with friends who uplift you or indulging in hobbies that make you happy.

Narcissistic Manipulation In Relationships

Victims of narcissistic manipulation in relationships may experience a range of effects, including emotional and psychological harm, damage to the relationship itself, and disconnection from support networks.

Signs To Look Out For

If you suspect that you are in a relationship with a narcissist, here are some key signs to look out for. Narcissists love attention and admiration, so they may go to great lengths to keep their partner’s focus on them.

They may become offended or angry when they aren’t the center of attention or don’t receive the praise they feel they deserve.

“The faculty to think objectively is reason; the emotional attitude behind reason is that of humility. To be objective, to use one’s reason, is possible only if one has achieved an attitude of humility, if one has emerged from the dreams of omniscience and omnipotence which one has as a child. Love, being dependent on the relative absence of narcissism, requires the developement of humility, objectivity and reason.

Additionally, narcissists tend to have an inflated sense of self-importance and entitlement. This can lead them to be dismissive of other people’s feelings or perspectives.

They may also lack empathy for others and struggle with accepting criticism or feedback.

I must try to see the difference between my picture of a person and his behavior, as it is narcissistically distorted, and the person’s reality as it exists regardless of my interests, needs and fears.”
― Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving

Finally, pay attention if you start feeling like something is off in your relationship but have trouble pinpointing exactly what it is. Narcissists can be masters at gaslighting — manipulating someone into doubting their own experiences and perceptions — which can leave partners feeling confused and unsure about reality.

Effects On The Victim

Narcissistic manipulation can have devastating effects on the victim, both psychologically and emotionally. Victims of narcissistic abuse often suffer from anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“I think writers are the most narcissistic people. Well, I musn’t say this, I like many of them, a great many of my friends are writers.”
― Sylvia Plath

This is because narcissists use a variety of tactics to control their victims, such as gaslighting, victim blaming, and isolation. Gaslighting involves making the victim doubt their own perception of reality by manipulating them into thinking they are crazy or paranoid.

Victims also experience emotional harm due to the constant criticism and belittling that is part of narcissistic abuse. Narcissists may nitpick at everything their partner does or say things like “you’re not good enough” or “no one else would put up with you.” Over time, this erodes the victim’s sense of self-worth and confidence.

“For the most part people are not curious except about themselves.”
― John Steinbeck

In some cases, these abusive behaviors can escalate into intimate partner violence (IPV) if left unchecked.

How To Break Free From A Narcissistic Relationship

Breaking free from a relationship with a narcissist can be incredibly difficult and overwhelming. However, it’s important to remember that you deserve to be in a healthy and safe relationship.

“Hate is the complement of fear and narcissists like being feared. It imbues them with an intoxicating sensation of omnipotence.”
― Sam Vaknin

One of the first steps towards breaking free is to set clear boundaries and limit contact with the narcissistic partner.

It’s also essential to seek professional help, such as therapy, to deal with the emotional trauma caused by the abuse. You may need support from loved ones during this time, but keep in mind that the narcissist might try to manipulate others into taking their side.

“Playing the victim role: Manipulator portrays him- or herself as a victim of circumstance or of someone else’s behavior in order to gain pity, sympathy or evoke compassion and thereby get something from another. Caring and conscientious people cannot stand to see anyone suffering and the manipulator often finds it easy to play on sympathy to get cooperation.”
― George K. Simon Jr.

Remember that recovery takes time; healing from psychological trauma requires patience and self-care.

Narcissistic Manipulation In The Workplace

Narcissistic manipulation in the workplace can lead to a negative impact on productivity and morale, and it’s important for employees to recognize manipulative co-workers or bosses and learn effective strategies for dealing with workplace manipulation.

“Lies don’t end relationships the truth does.”
― Shannon L. Alder

Impact On Productivity And Morale

Narcissistic manipulation can be especially damaging in the workplace. A study by the University at Buffalo School of Management revealed that narcissistic leaders can significantly harm team productivity and morale.

For example, narcissistic CEO may isolate themselves from others, creating an “us vs. them” mentality within the company. They may also use triangulation tactics to pit employees against each other, causing conflict and undermining teamwork.

“The sadistic narcissist perceives himself as Godlike, ruthless and devoid of scruples, capricious and unfathomable, emotion-less and non-sexual, omniscient, omnipotent and omni-present, a plague, a devastation, an inescapable verdict.”
― Sam Vaknin

Dealing with narcissists in the workplace requires careful management strategies that address both their behavior and fragile self-esteem. One approach is to set clear boundaries for what is acceptable behavior in the workplace, such as zero tolerance for bullying or disrespect toward colleagues.

Recognizing Manipulative Co-Workers Or Bosses

Recognizing manipulative co-workers or bosses can be difficult, but there are some red flags to watch out for. One of the most obvious signs is their tendency to pit people against each other.

“For some, life may be a playground to undermine the brainwaves of others or simply a vainglorious game with an armory of theatrics, illustrating only bleak self-deception, haughty narcissism and dim deficiency in empathy. (“Another empty room”)”
― Erik Pevernagie

They may spread rumors or gossip about someone, creating tension and drama in the workplace.

Another tactic used by manipulative individuals is gaslighting — making their victims doubt their own perceptions and memories. This is particularly damaging when it comes from a boss who has power over an employee’s career advancement and job security.

Strategies For Dealing With Workplace Manipulation

Dealing with workplace manipulation can be a challenge, but there are strategies that can help you safeguard yourself from such toxic dynamics. First and foremost, it’s important to recognize the signs of manipulative behavior in your colleagues or superiors.

“Narcissists are consumed with maintaining a shallow false self to others. They’re emotionally crippled souls that are addicted to attention. Because of this they use a multitude of games, in order to receive adoration. Sadly, they are the most ungodly of God’s creations because they don’t show remorse for their actions, take steps to make amends or have empathy for others. They are morally bankrupt.”
― Shannon L. Alder

Once you’ve identified these behaviors, setting clear boundaries is crucial. This might mean speaking up when someone crosses a line with you by using assertive communication techniques like “I” statements that express how their behavior has affected you and what changes you’d like to see going forward.

Finally, don’t underestimate the power of self-care.

Narcissistic Manipulation In Social Settings

In social settings, narcissists often use their charisma to gain control and manipulate others through tactics such as triangulation, gossiping behind people’s backs, and playing the victim.

“I am in love with you’, I responded.
He laughed the most beguiling and gentle laugh.
‘Of course you are,’ he replied. ‘I understand perfectly because I’m in love with myself. The fact that I’m not transfixed in front of the nearest mirror takes a great deal of self-control.’
It was my turn to laugh.”
― Anne Rice, Blackwood Farm

Identifying Narcissistic Behaviors In Social Circles

One of the most crucial steps in protecting oneself from narcissistic manipulation is identifying narcissistic behaviors in social circles. Some common traits of a narcissist include an exaggerated sense of self-importance, the constant need for attention and validation, the tendency to belittle others, and disregard for boundaries.

“Meditation is a way to be narcissistic without hurting anyone”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb

It’s also important to pay attention to how they treat their relationships with others. Narcissists often use manipulation tactics such as triangulation or smear campaigns to control those around them.

They may try to turn people against each other or spread false rumors about others to gain power over them.

In conclusion, learning how to identify potential signs of narcissism can help individuals protect themselves from falling prey to manipulative behaviors by those who display these traits in social settings.

“I like to be admired from afar, and then complimented up close.”
― Gena Showalter

How To Protect Yourself From Manipulation

Protecting oneself from manipulation is crucial when dealing with narcissists. The first step is setting healthy personal boundaries and being assertive in enforcing them.

Another important factor in protecting oneself from manipulation by a narcissist is educating oneself on their behavior patterns and understanding how they manipulate people around them.

“Let us not ponder over biting ripostes that are thought of just seconds too late on our way home. Rather than awkwardly stumbling on the flight of steps to verbal avenge and tormenting ourselves with the wit of the staircase and its pointless ruminations or self-righteous vanity, we better transcend the shallow waters of narcissism and find harmony by resourcing ourselves in humility.
(“Wit of the staircase”)”
― Erik Pevernagie

Knowing what red flags to watch out for can help prevent falling prey to their mind games.

Lastly, practicing self-care techniques such as mindfulness, meditation, exercise, journaling, or therapy can help build emotional intelligence and resilience against emotional manipulation.

Confronting Narcissistic Friends Or Family Members

Confronting narcissistic friends or family members can be a challenging task. It’s not always easy to express your feelings without being dismissed or belittled by someone who lacks empathy and understanding.

“When you lose your ego, you win. It really is that simple.”
― Shannon L. Alder

Therefore, it is crucial to approach the situation with caution. One effective way to confront these individuals is by setting boundaries for yourself while communicating in a calm and assertive tone.

However, keep in mind that some narcissists may refuse to acknowledge any fault or accept responsibility for their actions. In such cases, seeking professional help from therapists would be beneficial as they can provide insight into how best to deal with this situation effectively.

Consequences Of Ignoring Narcissistic Manipulation Such As Long-Term Damage To Mental Health

Ignoring narcissistic manipulation can have serious long-term consequences on an individual’s mental health, leading to negative impacts on future relationships, difficulty trusting others, and potential damage to their overall well-being.

“Confidence is the prize given to the mediocre”
― Robert Hughes

Negative Impact On Future Relationships

One of the most significant consequences of narcissistic manipulation is its negative impact on future relationships. Victims of narcissistic abuse often struggle to establish healthy connections with others, due to the trauma they sustained from their previous experiences.

Furthermore, those who have been subject to narcissistic abuse may develop a range of emotional problems that can affect their ability to form strong, meaningful relationships.

From cognitive dissonance to codependency, these issues can create barriers between individuals and prevent them from engaging fully with others.

“Whenever an occasion arose in which she needed an opinion on something in the wider world, she borrowed her husband’s. If this had been all there was to her, she wouldn’t have bothered anyone, but as is so often the case with such women, she suffered from an incurable case of of pretentiousness. Lacking any internalized values of her own, such people can arrive at a standpoint only by adopting other people’s standards or views. The only principle that governs their minds is the question “How do I look?”
― Haruki Murakami

Difficulty Trusting Others

One of the most significant consequences of ignoring narcissistic manipulation is that it can lead to difficulty trusting others. Victims of narcissistic abuse may begin to doubt their own judgment and find themselves questioning the motives of others.

Victims of narcissistic abuse often suffer from trauma bonding, where they become emotionally attached to their abuser even though they are aware that the relationship is toxic.

“To approach the Other in conversation is to welcome his expression, in which at each instant he overflows the idea a thought would carry away from it. It is therefore to receive from the Other beyond the capacity of the I, which means exactly: to have the idea of infinity. But this also means: to be taught. The relation with the Other, or Conversation, is a non-allergic relation, an ethical relation; but inasmuch as it is welcomed this conversation is a teaching. Teaching is not reducible to maieutics; it comes from the exterior and brings me more than I contain. In its non-violent transitivity the very epiphany of the face is produced.”
― Emmanuel Levinas

They may struggle with cognitive dissonance, feeling both repelled by and attracted to the person who is harming them.

In some cases, people who have experienced narcissistic manipulation might develop codependency issues with future partners or friends as a means of seeking validation or approval due to low self-esteem caused by prolonged emotional harm.

“Let me tell you what I just heard. Talk, talk, talk, I. Talk, talk, talk, I. Well, what about me?”
― Gena Showalter


In conclusion, narcissists use various manipulation tactics such as triangulation, smear campaigns, and isolation to control their victims. They create drama and conflict by playing people against each other through the art of triangulation.

It is crucial to identify red flags in behavior early on and trust your intuition when dealing with a potential narcissist.

Whether it is in relationships or workplace dynamics, recognizing manipulative behaviors is vital for maintaining healthy connections with others.

By becoming more aware of how narcissists manipulate people by playing them against each other we empower ourselves to make better choices that prioritize our emotional well-being over the desire for approval or acceptance from a toxic individual.

About the Author :

Som Dutt, Top writer in Philosophy & Psychology on I make people Think, Relate, Feel & Move. Let's Embrace Inner Chaos and Appreciate Deep, Novel & Heavy Thoughts.

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