A con artist is someone who uses deceit and manipulation to get what they want, whether it be money or attention. But spotting someone with a con artist personality isn’t as simple as looking for blue eyes or a big nose. They won’t be the most outspoken or suspicious-looking person in the room. Their goal is to blend in.
It’s impossible to know the intentions of every person we meet. But there are some not-so-obvious signs that someone might have a con artist personality.
1. They Use Facts and Statistics
Referred to as intellectual bullying, some con artists use this tactic to seem like an expert in all areas. They want to be an authority figure — someone you come to when they have questions.
This image of authority is created by overwhelming you with supposed facts and data you know little to nothing about. And of course, they will offer no source where you can double-check their claims.
This type of manipulation is used to exert power over others in all kinds of circumstances, including sales, negotiations and social situations.
2. They Act Passive Aggressive
A con artist is someone with a direct and confrontational approach, right? In reality, most manipulators use passive-aggressive tactics to get what they want. When feeling slighted, they might give you the silent treatment or talk behind your back.
They will do anything in their power to shift the blame from their shoulders to yours. The goal is to play on your emotions to elicit feelings of guilt, even when unfounded. When confronted with a con artist personality, the key is to be direct. Be assertive without getting angry or upset.
3. They Push Your Buttons
Con artists use manipulation tactics to push your buttons and get your attention on them. One way they do this is by typecasting, making assumptions about someone based on their looks, personality or background.
Con artists use these assumptions to insult you and get you riled up. Another strategy is negging, where manipulators undervalue your confidence in an attempt to make you reliant on them.
One example of negging would be a woman telling a co-worker, “Your outfit looks amazing. I would never have the confidence to wear that.”
4. They Make Unsolicited Promises
Trust is something that is earned, not given. So be wary of strangers or vague acquaintances ready to make a promise at a moment’s notice. Someone who makes a lot of promises, especially without prompting, probably doesn’t intend to keep them.
Con artists make hollow commitments in an attempt to convince you of something — that they are trustworthy, even when they’re not. Don’t be afraid to decline promises you aren’t comfortable with. Be assertive in your notion that trust takes time to build.
5. They Give Ultimatums
An ultimatum is when someone threatens that they’ll do X if you don’t do Y. For example, a manipulative partner may say they’ll leave you if you don’t dress the way they wish.
A devious boss might threaten to dock your pay if you don’t work late. Someone with a con artist personality knows they can issue ultimatums to coerce people to do what they want.
If someone is asking you a question, but you feel like you don’t have a choice, chances are you’re dealing with a con artist personality.
6. They Used Forced Teaming
Forced teaming was a tactic first described by Gavin de Becker, security specialist and author of the book The Gift of Fear. It’s used by manipulators to integrate themselves into victims’ lives and make them appear to have a lot in common.
They want to seem like they have the victim’s best interests at heart, though the opposite is likely true. A con artist will create shared experiences using words like “we” and “us.” They’ll emphasize how you’re both working together as a team.
How to Spot a Con Artist Personality
A con artist’s goal is to manipulate you to get what they want. Remember, there is no winning when dealing with a con artist. The best strategy is to exit the situation as quickly as possible.
Be wary of common tactics like typecasting and negging, meant to agitate you and get your attention on them. Ignore the supposed facts and statistics designed to overwhelm you into submission. And avoid engaging with vague acquaintances eager to make quick promises.
Dealing with manipulative people can be tricky. The key is to stand your ground and be assertive. You can calmly speak your mind without giving a con artist the drama and attention they seek.
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