5 Common Narcissistic Personality Manipulation Tactics

personality disorder

People with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) may engage in a variety of manipulation techniques that could include, for example, turning a situation around to make someone else look bad.  

This is so they fulfill their need to be or appear superior and powerful. Although it might be tempting to retaliate or try to “fix” the other person, the truth is that people with NPD usually do not realize how their actions affect others. 

Here are some manipulation tactics you need to be aware of. 

1) Playing the Victim

Just as narcissists will manipulate others, they also like to manipulate the situation so that they can play the victim. This is a favorite manipulation tactic, especially when it comes to getting someone else to feel sorry for them. 

A narcissist might act as if everyone else is out to get them or is wrong for what they’re doing, in an effort to make the other person feel sorry for them. This tactic can elicit a lot of sympathy and positive attention from others, while allowing the narcissist to appear self-sacrificing and humble.

2) Revenge

Narcissist are very good at manipulating a situation to turn it around and make it appear as though the person they are targeting is the perpetrator. Narcissist don’t want to be the perpetrator, they want to be the victim and their skill is masked by the fact that they appear virtuous and self-deprecating. 

When someone engages in this type of manipulation, they are really acting as a victim, often for an action that is not entirely of their own making. This is a common way for a narcissist to get revenge, to make it appear as though the harm or fault is equally shared.

3) Ghosting

Ghosting is a way of disappearing so that the person on the receiving end of the abandonment is left hanging and wondering what they did wrong, or why they were discarded. A narcissist will use this tactic to make the other person feel bad about themselves and wonder why they are being rejected. 

When it comes to ghosting, it is important to be honest with yourself and not to jump to conclusions. It is also important to remember that narcissists like to play games, and that you might be getting played.

4) Triangulation

Triangulation is the practice of bringing another person into the dynamics of your relationship in order to elevate yourself and make the other person feel insecure, jealous or challenged. This type of manipulation tactic is meant to elevate the narcissist, who may be feeling inferior to the other person.

It can also be used to create conflict, and to empower the narcissist when they might be feeling vulnerable, again because they are feeling inferior to the other person.

5) Gaslighting

Gaslighting is another tactic narcissists use in order to make others feel small, worthless and insecure, which feeds the narcissist’s need for superiority and power. Gaslighting is a form of mental abuse that is designed to make people feel as if they are going crazy, simply by telling them that they are.

This is a form of emotional abuse that is commonly used in manipulative relationships, in order to make the target feel as if they are the crazy one. 


When it comes to narcissism, manipulation is a hallmark symptom of the disorder. Narcissists are often manipulative in their social relationships, and they might manipulate people, places or things in order to make themselves look great.

If you are dealing with this kind of situation, it’s best to get a professional opinion. Chettiar Counselling & Associates offers counselling services in Cambridge, Ontario to help you cope with mental  disorders. Consult with us today to learn more.