Manipulation Using Sympathy

Expressing sympathy toward another person is one of the tactics that manipulators often use in order to quickly gain a person's trust.
"I can't believe they treat you that way. That's horrible."
"You work so hard and they don't even acknowledge you!"
"I feel so bad for you having to put up with that."
"Here let me help you..."
"It's not right the way they act toward you. I would be so angry."
"You come and hang out with me, I won't treat you that way."
"People like that don't deserve to breathe! They're evil."
"Vote for me, I'm on your side."
"If you need help, or anything at all, you call me first."

The words can sound like real sympathy when spoken by a manipulator.
They can be the SAME WORDS that someone who actually cares might say.
It can be nearly impossible to tell whether a person who is expressing sympathy is genuine, or if they're trying to gain a person's trust or 'loyalty'.

The tactic may be used on many levels and in many situations, depending on the goal or mental illness level of the manipulator. From gaining the trust of a potential customer, to a potential con-mark, to gaining the trust of a potential abuse target, to gaining the trust of a family member, friend, classmate, student, coworker, etc.

One of the ways to determine whether someone is genuinely expressing sympathy, or is trying to manipulate, is to look at the rest of the picture. What are their other behaviors? How do they treat others, and that means ALL others? Do they gossip? Do they treat others with respect, kindness, and understanding on a regular basis? Do they seem to dislike others who are in your life? Do they seem to want YOU to dislike or turn on certain other people, especially who have not done anything seriously wrong?

Do they ask you to do things for them, but they say "no" when you ask them for help, support, or assistance?
Is everything usually THEIR way, and if you say anything about that at all, do they fly into defensiveness, every time?

Can they help you without disrespecting you, or making it a HUGE deal, as if you're asking them to help you move the Washington Monument, or loan you a million dollars?

There are definitely different levels of manipulators. Most are apparently just not socially or emotionally mature or healthy, and can cause problems in social groups and families. These are the manipulators who try to gain the trust of certain others in order to gain their "loyalty", and turn them against certain other individuals.

Then there are those who do this same thing outside of the 'friendship' or family group, in the larger community, and cause problems for others in business, career, and academics, which is actually illegal, but difficult to prosecute, and so it happens a lot. (Bullies will often push to see how far they can go with their behaviors, but may stop if and when they fear consequence.)

There are those who try to gain trust in order to gain manipulation power over another person, so they can get the person to do things for them, give them things, and care for them, but without reciprocation. These manipulators also commonly try to gain the trust and loyalty of others around them, so that they'll HELP with making a certain person into a 'servant', an ever-available 'handy-man' or 'hand maiden'.

Then there are those who try to gain the trust of others in order to con them out of money or possessions. The internet is FILLED with this.

There are those who try to gain the trust and loyalty of others in order to sell their product. (Advertising, sales-pitching).

There are those who manipulate a person into trusting them in order to gain access into their 'heart', so they can use them for all manner of things, including sex.
This is also all over the internet, but can probably be found in any local group where there are humans.

There are those who are on the severe end of the mental illness scale who try to gain the trust of targeted abuse victims.

It's also used on a larger scale for bigger groups of people.

Manipulation; trying to gain trust and loyalty~ in order to build a "following" is common for Politicians (of all stripes and parties), political parties, for promoters of entertainers and artists, religious leaders and speakers, ANTI-religious leaders and speakers, cult leaders, non-profit organizations, big business, political movements such as "MRA", even electronic and computer companies now can be seen using these tactics.

Manipulation via "sympathy" is not used by ALL of these types of people or groups in order to build a following.
It's most commonly seen being used to gain a following when the person or group's agenda includes

We are ALL potential targets of some manipulator, somewhere. It's nothing NEW, there have always been humans who try to manipulate in order to get what they seek, instead of being straightforward and ethical. Often it's because they don't think they're capable of getting what they want without unethical means; they're severely insecure, or very immature; they want to receive something without doing the work or going through the steps, or they want to receive MORE than they've earned.
Other times it's just "malignant Narcissism".
~Either way, we are all potential targets, and therefore it's in our best interest to learn how to protect ourselves and our loved ones, how to listen to others with healthy respect (not trying to shut them down, and not shifting our belief system to theirs), and learning how to keep our Boundaries up and running without turning them into hard and brittle "walls" with cannons sticking out of them.