Do not let yourself be manipulated!
Manipulating people, it turns out, is not difficult. There are simple techniques that work. For example, gently touching a person and, at the same time, saying something openly good will almost always work. The other person automatically begins to relate easily to the one who feels free to violate his borders. When in dispute, speak softly, while leaning back. Then, your opponent will be forced to listen, reach forward and to be silent in order to be able to hear the arguments. So, you immediately assume a leadership position in the debate. There are many techniques and all of them are easy to apply. In fact, it is much harder not to use these techniques once you know them. It becomes harder to respect your opponent or to leave that person with a choice, as you diminish respect of his opinions or beliefs. We are well-accustomed to manipulation. In corporate training, we talk about the techniques of working well with people. In educating children, we often suppress their will, imposing views upon them about marriage and life.
In fact, the only form of relationship that implies free will is friendship, but even here, we rarely abstain from imposing our own ideas about the relationship on the other. In truth, many of us believe that other people manipulate us and that it is, in fact, something natural. Woman often seek the social status of the best mother or the most active professional with the belief that “persuading” others of these facts is imperative. The best cook with the cleanest home may be their goal and they will “campaign” for this title. With men, it is no less interesting. The competition among men for a prize in the form of some woman requires a huge effort and a measure o manipulation as well. In their careers, the same strategies apply. Giving a man the freedom of choice will often allow aspects of manipulation to surface, as the greatest prize will be coveted and targeted for possession and victory.
Recently, my close friend faced a serious choice. She was tormented by a beloved. He could not leave his wife for her and all of her requests to end the relationship worked initially, but he would always return; much to her consternation. He called himself a scoundrel, a liar and he wept. By and large, he did not care that her friend was very sick. He knew that she loved him and that is what he “preyed” upon. She wanted to recover from this love, so when he appeared once again, she typed a text message to his wife and hung over the “Send” button. She knew that if she pressed the “Send” button, it will be devastating. She knew that she must resolve this one problem if she was to recapture her independent life and eventual happiness. What is clear is that he used blatant methods of manipulation to keep her under his control; too weak to accept control over what was happening. Confronting this fact was the first step in neutralising the manipulation that was imprisoning her. What he was able to do was to literally steal from her a few years of her life and only through her direct and determined actions could she hope to put an end to this egomaniacal person’s reign.
The friend did not send this SMS. Why? Philosophically, we are social, not free. In fact, manipulation may be regarded as a natural part of our lives. Why curse the manipulation if we can quietly “lead” against an “opponent” by acting towards a solution that pleases us? Why even argue with the people we love? We all have a free will to make our own decisions and, by exercising that will, we may be able to fashion a more quiet and peaceful life.
What is a manipulator?
This is a person who is mining their goals through other people. Most often, it involves selfish and proud people who keenly cultivate a sense of closeness with other people and who subtly play on this in order to achieve their goals. There are few people who are not familiar with this style of manipulation, to a lesser or greater degree. Many types of human interactions are based on manipulation. So, what are the ways to protect oneself against manipulation?
If a person is strong in spirit, able to refuse and is confident in their decisions, the manipulator will not be interested in maintaining contact. If a manipulator refers to you negatively, simply think of your merits. Remember, everyone can make mistakes. No person is without weakness or fault. When the manipulator highlights your weaknesses, you should know that he, himself, is not perfect.
Away with fear!
If a manipulator shows some type of aggression or a desire to intimidate you, it is important to remain calm. If you ever feel guilty about your protective behaviour, eliminate that feeling before you do something that you will regret later, simply out of a desire to please and conform. Calmly tell the other party that the conversation, in this tone, will lead to nothing and leave (time out) from the room. In an effort to be polite, do not put yourself in a position of weakness. By staying strong and in control, you will feel the benefits of peace of mind. The manipulator wants to get you out of your mental balance and is striving to get from you what he/she wants. Remember this always!
You must learn to distinguish between compliments and flattery. Often, manipulators make compliments that are not reasonable. At that time, you will feel that the compliment is exaggerated. Still, you may feel pleased with the comment. You should thank the speaker politely and move on. If the person continues to make attempts to perhaps, influence your decision(s), politely rebuff him/her sternly.
Do not be silent!
It is always necessary for you to openly express your feelings. For example, you do not want to continue a conversation that you do not like. If you feel that someone is trying to use you, ask about it directly. If your assumptions are correct, the manipulator will not have the opportunity to continue his nefarious actions.
Do your job well.
Quality in performance on any task will protect you against attacks by the manipulator, as he/she will have nothing to base his/ her actions on. Of course, one cannot account for every scenario, but there is always that incentive to enter into any type of business in good faith and with a commitment to excellence.
Learn to say “no” to what you do not need or want. This is an excellent trump card against the manipulator. Everyone has the right to express their own opinions and to accept or deny anything. It is your right! Do not speak negatively about the identified manipulator to others, as you invite him/her back into your social circle and thoughts. If you listen and be civil before walking away, your strength will emanate to the manipulator and others. Treat everyone with understanding, whether they are a close person, a colleague or a salesperson. If you refuse their request to purchase or act in some way, hold strong to your decision, as it reflects your true nature and beliefs. Listen to yourself always. Usually, the manipulator will easily recognise the weaknesses in others and seek out persons who are convenient to manage and exploit. Faced with resistance, the manipulator will lose interest in you and rush to find another person to achieve his/her goals.
An important point to remember is that a manipulator will often turn up when you feel uncomfortable. Perhaps you are going somewhere in a hurry or having an important conversation on the phone. You have no time to think about his/her request and make a reasoned decision. Making apologies distracts you from the work and will not stop him/her from making those requests. You believe that you have no time, so you simply accept. Bad idea!!
Often a manipulator will stand up for a third person, which serves to disarm you, as you are effectively outnumbered. Naturally, it will be hard to disagree and the manipulative person did do some good for someone else. Not caring about whether it is convenient for you or not, a request or demand will be tabled. Once again, be aware and stand strong.
If you received a service and are grateful to a person, you may find it difficult to refuse a request for a favour or action. You may promise a service in return, which was the intended result hoped for by the manipulator. Remember to always keep a tight rein on what you are willing to agree to and always be true to your values and beliefs. Do not put the manipulator in any strong position of power! Anticipating what needs to be done (reasonably speaking) will not allow anyone else from blindsiding you with a “favour” that deserves a payback that you are not comfortable with.
Faced with a “manipulator” who tells you that you have to do something, gives you unreasonable compliments or suggests that you have misbehaved in some way, the best thing to do is to breathe slowly and think. Establish how things really are. When a person is sure of himself/herself, there will be a firmness of character and attitude and other people will see a strong and strong-willed person. In this case, the manipulator will not have any opportunity to pounce and manoeuvre and you will have avoided the “talons” of their craft.