The Trap of Manipulative Praise

Manipulation praise is much more common than you think. After all, everyone likes to receive praise from others. However, it’s not worth that moment of reward if you’re going to be hurt even more down the line.
The Trap of Manipulative Praise

Last update: 15 December, 2022

Manipulative praise is not just a simple compliment. In reality, there’s a camouflaged interest behind each piece of praise or positive comment.

Everyone loves to be told how good they are and how well they do things.

However, there are times when you can get carried away by this flattery without realizing that you need to open your eyes and recognize the real intention.

Sometimes, people who have low self-esteem need this type of flattery. They see themselves based on their merits because they live off of the approval of others.

This is a dangerous situation, and you can fall into a harmful trap.

Beware of manipulative praise

A woman on a rocky lake shore.

You’ve probably noticed that on more than one occasion you’ve let yourself get carried away by someone’s beautiful words only to find that they’re telling you what to do based on what they want.

Here are some examples of real situations of manipulative praise.

1. “What a nice person you are! Hey, so I wanted to ask you…”

This is very common. Following a compliment comes a request that you can hardly turn down. When they send a positive word your way, you’ll look bad if you deny what they ask you for.

When they tell you “you’re so nice” and then you refuse to do what they ask of you, you might think you’re disappointing them.

However, this is precisely their intention. Without you being aware of it, a feeling of guilt will take hold and you’ll feel compelled to do what the other person wants.

2. “You’re so perceptive – aren’t I right about…?”

Woman around a bonfire.
Sometimes, the manipulative praise trap occurs because a person wants you to support a particular opinion they have about the situation.

For example, if they’re criticizing a friend, they’ll offer you some flattery before asking you what you think.

After that, you might find it hard to refuse to take part in the judgment, even if you recognize that it’s wrong. After all, you don’t want to disappoint someone.

Again, subtle manipulation is present here.

3. “I’m sorry, you’re so kind.”

Manipulative praise can be used to get forgiveness.
People who use manipulative praise sometimes do so with the goal that the person they have harmed will forgive them.

To do this, they tell you sweet things so that you feel superior to them and forgive them. After all, we’re only human…

However, you need to keep your eyes wide open, because in most cases these people are not trying to recover your relationship, but rather the benefits that it brings to them.

4. “I love that I’m able to confide in you.”

A woman who is suffering emotionally.
This is typically done by people who use you to achieve a specific purpose that only benefits themselves. They need you to get where they want to go, but once they reach their goal, they’ll step over you and leave you behind.

Be very careful with this type of manipulation. After all, it can shatter you into pieces and leave your heart with wounds that are difficult to heal.

Manipulative praise is hard to see

In some cases, only experience can provide you with the tools you need to be able to open your eyes and not let the empty words fool you.

When someone flatters you and you’re feeling down about yourself, be alert! Don’t get carried away by that good feeling you get when you think someone finally recognizes your merits.

Manipulation adoration is much more common than you think. After all, everyone likes to receive praise from others.

Of course, it’s not worth that moment of reward if you’re going to be hurt even more down the line.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Eylon, Y., & Heyd, D. (2008). Flattery. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 77(3), 685-704.
  • Potter, N. N. (2006). What is manipulative behavior, anyway?. Journal of personality disorders, 20(2), 139-156.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.