Why You Should Stop Accepting Help From Psychologically Manipulative People | Dr. Isaiah Hankel Why You Should Stop Accepting Help From Psychologically Manipulative People | Dr. Isaiah Hankel

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Why You Should Stop Accepting Help From Psychologically Manipulative People

“Your only obligation in any lifetime is to be true to yourself. Being true to anyone else or anything else is not only impossible, but the mark of a fake messiah.”

Richard Bach (Author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull and Illusions)

“There are slavish souls who carry their appreciation for favors done them so far that they strangle themselves with the rope of gratitude.”

Friedrich Nietzsche (German Philosopher)

“Most people return small favors, acknowledge medium ones, and repay greater ones with ingratitude.”

Benjamin Franklin (Founding Father of the United States)


I asked a girl I was dating if she knew anyone who could help me move.

I was changing apartments and my only two friends in the area were out of town.

To make matters worse, I had only been in that town for a few months.

So beyond my two friends and my girlfriend, I knew exactly zero people.

Fortunately (or not-so-fortunately?), my girlfriend knew a few guys who could help.

She convinced her brother and cousin to help me.

I didn’t have much at the time so we were able to move my entire apartment (a couch, a futon bed, and a few boxes) in less than two hours.

The job was done and I was relieved.

I thanked everyone profusely, bought everyone lunch, and then bought my girlfriend earrings to say thank you.

The end.

(But it wasn’t the end).

For the next 6 months, every time we got into an argument, this “giant favor” she did for me was thrown in my face.

You would’ve thought she built me a new apartment and introduced me to Axl Rose and Slash (now that would have been awesome).

On and on this went.

Every time I asked for a favor or let her do a favor for me, it came back to haunt me.

What made it worse… I started doing this to her.

I started using my favors against her whenever I needed something.

It was an awful, manipulative cycle.

This cycle is very common and if you don’t fix it in yourself and avoid it in your interactions with others, you’ll limit both your happiness and success in life.

The 20-Year-Old Science Of Covert Aggression

Have you experienced this “wolf in sheep’s clothing” trick?

You know, the one where well-meaning supporters with honorable intentions of generosity and kindness and blah blah blah quickly reveal themselves as self-serving manipulators waiting for payback?

Their “help” or support is conditional.

Once you accept it, you enter into this invisible agreement of forced obligation on their terms.

You know who I’m talking about.

The colleague who offers you something that will benefit you personally or professionally.

The friend or family member who rushes in to save you when you hit an obstacle.

These people woo you with ego-boosting support and favors just when you need them.

And then when they see an opportunity to collect ― watch out.

They turn into opportunistic vultures that show up for payout.

Behavioral psychologists refer to this as “covert aggression” and it’s a prime psychological manipulation technique.

A study reported in Personality and Social Psychology Review analyzed indirect, relational, and social aggression ― and found that across both genders, this type of psychological manipulation is used equally as an alternative to any direct approach.

This isn’t new… it’s just new that I’m calling it out.

The Journal of Personality published research 20 years ago that identified favor-making as one of 12 common manipulation tactics.

This one is highlighted as “Reciprocity-Reward” and begins with offering a favor to get something back and then using that as leverage at a later date.

In other words ― these people are cowards.

Passive-aggression is still aggression and it needs to be purged from your life completely.

These manipulators consciously or subconsciously set you up by offering to help.

Then they lie in wait until they can use that offering against you to get something from you.

The University of Michigan summarized two studies on what they call the dark side of emotional intelligence: people that have high emotional intelligence and display empathy, only to use it as an “in” to manipulate you.


That’s what they’re called.

It feels like betrayal the second these people reveal their true intentions because they slid in wearing soft sheep’s wool.

psychological manipulation techniques | Dr. Isaiah Hankel | signs of a manipulator

Why You Should Never Accept Favors From Manipulators

Stop accepting help from people who have a history of using their favors against you.

Giving a recommendation to a colleague.

Helping a friend start a new business.

Introducing two like-minded people.

These are things that positive, successful people do.

These are things you can do to build your social capital.

In fact, these are smart ways of connecting and networking.

We are encouraged to reach out to others to offer help and to be humble enough to seek it out and accept it for ourselves.

It’s resourceful and smart business.

Until it comes back to bite you.

The key is to make sure that the favors you’re accepting are not from manipulative people.

Once someone pressures you into doing something because they did you a “favor” in the past, that’s the moment you stop accepting favors from them and, if necessary, cut them out of your life.

Here are 3 reasons why you need to stop accepting help from psychologically manipulative people…

1. Manipulators make you dependent.

Here’s the deal.

You’re not always going to see it coming.

In fact, the more practiced your manipulator, the harder it’ll be to identify them.

And really, what a waste of time it is to try and figure it out.

The bad ones will be easy to spot… the good ones won’t be.

Manipulative people will use the favors they’ve done for you ― especially the ones you didn’t ask for ― as weapons.

They see an area of need and they rush to fill it for you.

They come in looking like the good guy or girl: the Rescuer.

All forms of psychological manipulation follow the same pattern.

The manipulator conditions you emotionally to be receptive in some twisted way to do something that serves them.

They want you to be needy.

They want you to feel grateful… eternally.

Their temporary benevolence is neither pure, nor is it ever as valuable as they present it to be.

Your best protection is self-reliance.

Learn to rely on yourself.

Rely on your own creativity and resourcefulness to solve problems.

Make your own connections.

Do your own fundraising.

Whatever your area of need ― seek to fulfill it yourself first.

Need less from people and fewer people will try and take advantage of you.

Be stronger and more capable on your own, and manipulative people can’t have an entry point into your life.

2. Manipulators want unlimited payback.

Some people will add value to a situation and move on with their lives.
Others will add value and demand a pound of flesh in return.

These pound-of-flesh people use small favors, like a piece of advice that happened to play out well, or a chance introduction to someone you would have met anyway, as leverage to control your actions.

They’re the ones who will remind you over and over again about how your success wouldn’t have been possible without them.

They’re the ones who will take credit for giving you your best ideas.

They are constantly looking for ways to use something against you.

Right in front of you, or behind your back.

Everything is a potential set-up with manipulators, and they can’t be trusted, even if you call them out or try and set boundaries.

The needy and pathetic ones will whine and complain when you don’t acknowledge them, or don’t tell them something first, or don’t ask them for permission.

Once your favor comes back to bite you the first time, don’t let it happen again.

The first bite reveals the emotional vampire that this person is and now they’ll just keep going.

Stop allowing these people to do you favors.

Stop giving these people leverage against you.

Realize that manipulative people will use even the slightest positive incident against you.

They’ll irrationally enlarge the tiniest of favors into some gargantuan monstrosity that you have to pay penance for FOREVER.

Every time you don’t do what they want, every time you don’t please them ― they will come at you with reminders of their past “gifts” as a way to make you feel guilty and in chronic servitude to them.

Let these people go.

Remove them from your life.

3. Manipulators won’t ever change.

Your boss who makes you feel good only when he wants you to work over the weekend.

Your relationship partner who will only allow you to feel good about yourself when you’re doing what he or she wants you to do.

These people will never change.

They will keep holding whatever they have on you against you.

Your secrets, your mistakes, and certainly the favors you’ve accepted will be used.

They’ll be used as leverage.

There’s no use trying to change this.

There’s no use trying to change them.

Negotiating with a manipulator is as futile as negotiating with a terrorist or arguing with a drunk.

Do not try and be rational with irrational, self-serving people.

Recognize these ploys as covert aggression and reject them.

Immediately and permanently.

Don’t make the mistake of giving these people a free pass.

It will come back to haunt you.

Stop wasting time giving manipulators the benefit of the doubt.

This is their pattern of behavior and you’re not the one who’s going to change it for them now.

Let them go.

Look — everyone is in it for themselves but not everyone is out to get you.

Manipulators just play dirty.

They’re sneaky.

Don’t live in paranoia that everyone is trying to take advantage of you.

But at the same time, don’t be naive.

The more times you give in to this type of behavior, the longer it will take you to reach your personal and professional goals.

These people will always hold you back.

They will use your past to stomp on your confidence.

They will take credit for your hard work and for everything good that happens to you in the future.

Once a manipulator tries to take credit for something you accomplished, or tries to tie your achievements to some meaningless action they took years ago, get rid of them.

Stop allowing people to manipulate you by keeping you beholden to old favors.

Stop allowing others to hold you hostage for small things they did in the past or small things you did in the past.

The only way to avoid being manipulated by people offering help that they’ll later use against you is to start being more self-reliant. Give and receive help on your own terms. Identify where you actually want or need help and accept favors with caution. Be resourceful for yourself first. Manipulative people make you dependent by holding you hostage to their last good deed. Once they get a foothold in your life, they dig in deeper and look for ways to steal your accomplishments and rob your successes. Be independent. Get rid of these people the first time they expose themselves for who they really are, and don’t let them fool you again.

To learn more about identifying the signs of a manipulator and how to deal with one, and to get instant access to exclusive training videos, case studies, insider documents, and my private online network, get on the Escape Plan wait list.


You Comment, Isaiah Responds

  • Theo

    So true. People who are really trusting tend to trust other people. People who manipulate tend to think that everyone’s trying to manipulate them. You can’t fix them and make them see the light so learn to stay away and don’t accept favors from them.

    • http://isaiahhankel.com/ Dr. Isaiah Hankel

      You’re absolutely right Theo. Most importantly – it’s not your job to fix them.

  • Sonja Luther

    I had a “friend” like this once! At first I thought I was the one who was going crazy. You are so right — these people are really hard to spot. And if they’re really good at it, it can take you years before you figure it out. This person would spontaneously appear with gifts for me months after she’d pulled this crazy mind game on me, and I thought she was really generous. But over time, the constant wondering how she was going to react to the smallest things got to be too much for me, and I stopped calling and started turning down favors. She literally got so mad I mailed back a few of her little gifts – with a note. She was infuriated, but at least I never had to deal with her again.

    • http://isaiahhankel.com/ Dr. Isaiah Hankel

      Thanks for sharing this Sonja. The lesson is clear – the best way to deal with a manipulative person is to step away. No drama needed. They will show their true colors (and possibly self-destruct) all on their own.

  • Charisse Cappello

    This is awesome advice! I don’t have anyone in my life at the moment who acts like this, but I’ve had some experiences like this in the past. I’m glad the psychological professionals community recognizes and describes this effect. 🙂

  • Andrea Robinson

    Oh, boy! Some of the slickest people operate this way. I found myself sucked into a terrible situation from someone like this. They pretended to be on my side – what a line of crap. After a while I noticed that not only was the person a pathological liar, but totally narcissistic and I ran like hell. Not the kind of person I want to be friends with!

  • Winona Petit

    It’s people like these who undoubtedly inspired Clare Boothe Luce’s comment that no good deed goes unpunished. I’d love to see those types turn their lives around, but since you can’t control that, it doesn’t make sense to hang around and hope. Isaiah, I’m glad you shook that albatross and freed yourself. You wouldn’t have been in a position to help as many people as you do. 🙂

  • Willow Sampson

    I don’t see how they can make you more dependent unless you were dependent already.

    • Andrea Robinson

      @willowsampson:disqus, You may not be dependent in general, at least at first. But they want you to become dependent on them! That’s why they seem like such a Godsend when you first meet them. It’s like they read your mind and know exactly what you want. They pick up on your need, even if you don’t think you need it that much. Master manipulators are really amazing at reading other people.

  • Julian Holst

    I think this is the reason why it’s so important to know who you are, be self-confident, and know your strengths and weaknesses. I know that guys often get controlled by girls, and it seems to be vice-versa too. That’s why you have to be free, even when you’re in a relationship. Never lose your sense of self.

  • Harvey Delano

    There’s no getting around it. There are plenty of manipulators in the world. At least you won’t fall prey as much if you have plenty of friends around you. But anyone can fall into the trap, especially if the manipulator is so good that none of your friends believe you.

  • Maggie Sue Smith

    You said it — manipulators want unlimited payback. It never ends. Once I had a feeling that I was getting manipulated, but I didn’t know for sure if it was just my paranoia, or maybe my own judgmental self getting in the way. So I decided never to interrupt during the next phone call. The other person talked nonstop for 2 hours and then told me she hated to cut the call short, that she had to go, and she hung up. I had my proof. This was someone who had absolutely no sense of how one-sided the relationship was.

  • Beverly Green

    Being self-reliant is the biggest freedom you can have.

  • Andrea Robinson

    Hi, Isaiah. I have one more comment about this. I was reading an article right now about how to spot a sociopath, and it brought back a lot of memories. The article stressed that you can’t expect these people to change, that you should get out right away, you should stop giving them things that they want (even emotional drama), and that you need to be sure of who you are and fully self-reliant. If you allow them to help you in any way and you need them in any way, it becomes extremely difficult to break free. When I got out of this relationship, it wasn’t until things had elevated to physical violence, and it was only because of connections I had via the Internet that I was finally able to figure out how to get away. You say to avoid people offering help that they’ll later use against you, and that your best defense is to be self-reliant, which is exactly right and echoed in the article I just read. I just wanted to take the time to call out your words, because I don’t want you to underestimate the power of what you’re doing here. It can literally change someone’s life to be exposed to this kind of help.

  • Brian Self

    This is a really great post. And like Sonja said below you think you are going crazy when you first feel that manipulative energy.

    • http://isaiahhankel.com/ Dr. Isaiah Hankel

      Thanks Brian, you’re right about feeling like you might be the problem at first. This is why it’s important to have trustworthy friends around you who can give you feedback and clarity.