Diversion Tactics (1)

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    Toxic manipulative people often engage in diversion tactics. These are behaviours that exploit, confuse, demean and hurt those around them. Sociopaths, psychopaths and narcissists often use tactics to confuse and distort the experiences and reality of their victims as a form of control and abuse. However, others can use these tactics as well. The distortion of the other persons reality and experience can at times be an effort to escape responsibility for their actions. It’s a way of diverting attention away from the issue at hand.

    There are many different tactics employed to divert, distort, silence, hurt and confuse others.  Over the next few posts I will be outlining a few.

    Changing the subject

    This tactic is often easily identified by the words, “What about….?” For instance, “I don’t like it when you talk to me like that that.” Followed by, “What about the time you said….” Or perhaps you mention some social injustice you feel passionate about and they bring up another one to distract you from the main argument. It is a way of digressing from the issue at hand and redirects attention elsewhere. The manipulator will point out a flaw or a mistake you made at some point, or a time when you felt differently. They play on their belief that you don’t have permission to change your mind or feel differently.

    When someone tries to redirect attention away try directing it back again by keeping focus on the topic at hand. Repeating your point over and over again may make you sound like a broken record, but it keeps the focus where you want it. Acknowledge their point may be valid but that’s not what you’re talking about at this moment. If the person continues to refuse to engage then perhaps it is best to stop wasting your time. After all, would you try to discuss third world economics with the emotional awareness and mental age of a five year old?

    Labelling/Name Calling

    This tactic is employed when someone can’t find a way to respectfully disagree or object to what is even a well thought out or valid point. They tend to label it as stupid or nonsense. Narcissists often behave like this due to their high sense of superiority. Because they can only ever be right about everything anything they see that challenges that superiority is insulted.

    They call you names and label your point as idiotic. Normally because they can’t find another way to control your thoughts or emotions. It is invalidating and degrading as they insult your intelligence, behaviour or appearance. The name calling is another way of distracting you from the argument as it targets you as a person. This is a way of undermining your credibility.

    If you find yourself being called names or being labelled, you don’t have to accept it. You can end the conversation. You can accept that they have resulted to this because they lack the capacity to challenge what you’re saying rationally.


    Generalising is a way of putting out a blanket statement that exaggerates something. It therefore invalidates a specific point or issue by not acknowledging it. For instance, “People like that are always moaning”, “You’re never happy”, “They need to just suck it up” and so on.  It is a form of all or nothing thinking, represents a limited way of thinking and a lack of empathy.

    Don’t let go of your truth and don’t try to reason with them if they continue to refuse to hear you.

    This article was written by sentientcounselling