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Dealing With Manipulative People Part 2

Love comes when manipulation stops; when you think more about the other person than about his or her reactions to you. When you dare to reveal yourself fully. When you dare to be vulnerable.

Dr. Joyce Brothers


As usual, I’m not going to spend much time on the pre-amble since this is the second part to this post.¬† I would highly recommend viewing the first part of this post before you read this one, since it introduces manipulators and talks about some of the more important issues, while this post is more about specific techniques they use.

This is the second part to a post I made earlier this week about manipulative people, the dangers of having them in your life, how to recognize someone that’s manipulative, specific techniques that they use and more importantly how to deal with them.

And so, without further ado, onto the next item on the list.

4. Guilt

Easily the most commonly used technique by manipulators, guilt is almost a sure fire way for them to ensure you do what they want.¬† If the manipulator is not someone close to you, like a family member or a friend, but instead someone like a co-worker they’ll use guilt less often as it won’t be as effective.

Guilt is used through almost all of the techniques a manipulator uses, and is the ends to the specific means that they use.¬† For instance, the flattery technique is really about guilting you into doing something the manipulator wants because they just complimented you.¬† You wouldn’t then want to do something to disagree with them or upset them, since that would make you feel guilty.¬† Thus you comply.

Here are some example phrases, some of which will probably strike you as cliché.  Believe it or not, many manipulators actually use these to great effect:

“If you really love me…”

“I thought you would say that.”

“Doesn’t it bother you that…?”

“I didn’t think you would…”

Often, if the manipulator believes that disappointing them will not make you feel guilty enough (Which is quite often the case, since manipulators are always trying to get you to do things you don’t want to.) they’ll use others.¬† They might mention how disappointed your mutual friend will be if you don’t show up to a lunch, despite the fact that you have something else planned.

There are literally thousands of ways to inflict guilt upon another, so I won’t even attempt to list them.¬† Safe to say that this is probably the easiest technique to recognize, as you know when you’re feeling guilty about something.¬† When you’re dealing with a manipulator just be aware that usually the guilt you’re feeling was intentionally inflicted on their part.¬† Once you realize you’re falling for a trap, you start to feel a lot less guilty about the situation in question.

Best method of fighting this is to recognize it.  Knowledge is very often power when it comes to manipulative techniques.

5. Repetitive questioning

I always laugh at this one.¬† It’s a technique three-year-olds commonly use to get their way, it’s just that when manipulators use it they’re a little less obvious about it.¬† It is, however, essentially the same thing.

The reason it’s a little more difficult to recognize as a ridiculous begging technique is because manipulators often stagger their questioning over a period of a few days.¬† Here’s how one of these exchanges will typically go.¬† M stands for Manipulator and Y stands for You.

M: You should come see this movie with me.

Y: I’m not really interested in that movie.¬† Let me know when you’re seeing another one.

M: C’mon, it’ll be fun!

Y: Nah, I don’t really want to go.

M: Why not?  What do you have against this particular movie?

Y: I’m just not a fan of the content of the film.¬† I don’t agree with it.

M: Stop being such a prude, just come!

Y: No thanks, I’m good.

M: So you’re seriously not going to come just because you disagree with something small in the film.

Y: That’s right.

M: Fine.¬† I’ll talk to you later.

Notice that the manipulator has ‘asked’ you to come see the film in total four times, forcing you to say no four times in a row (Something no one likes to do to a friend or a family member.) before giving up.¬† If the movie was in a week’s time, the next time you talked to the manipulator they would likely bring it up again, telling you that you should come to the movie.¬† You would reply no, and they would berate you again until you had said no four or more times and then give up until the next time they saw you.

Believe it or not, this works quite often.¬† Due to the position they hold in your life (Which is typically friend or family member, which I’ve mentioned.) you feel badly turning them down for something in the first place.¬† Instead of respecting your decision to decline though, they test your resolve and make you feel guilty about saying no by making you reiterate your stance several times in a row before they drop it.¬† As if that weren’t bad enough, once a few days have passed they’ll try the whole routine again.

If this technique is used on you, stay strong in your stance and when you start to feel guilty, remind yourself that that is what was intended.  Realize that the person your dealing with pushes boundaries and does not traditionally respect decisions that are not in line with your own.  Stay strong and keep saying no.  (Or yes, as the case may be.)

If you find yourself annoyed by how frequently they are making you repeat your decision, confront them about their behaviour.  Tell them that you have given them your decision and that no amount of asking is going to change that.  Be respectful, but also be firm.  As is typical with a manipulator, when they are confronted with their inappropriate behaviour head on, they back down, feeling embarassed.  (As they well should.)

6. Confrontational statements

Manipulators will sometimes goad you into a fight without your even realizing it until it’s too late.¬† Usually this happens when you’ve disagreed with them or you are not bending to their will because they’re techniques aren’t working.¬† Understand that nothing is more infuriating for a manipulator than to lack power over an individual.¬† They usually become overtly hostile to people who are dissident.

Furthermore, once you’re in the fight and upset with the person, they’ll back down, making it seem as if you flew off the handle for no reason.

Several methods of goading you into fights are statements such as “Why do you always…” or something similar (There are many variants.) which make it seem as if you are being unreasonable in this situation, and that your being unreasonable is a common occurence.¬† Another common phrase is “Why don’t you…” phrased agressively as if the answer is obvious and you’re a fool for not realizing it.

There are a multitude of ways for manipulators to instigate a fight, but they rarely ever finish one.  They like to tell people that you got upset and that they had nothing to do with it.

How to avoid it?¬† If you find yourself getting upset with a manipulator, try and calm yourself down.¬† Remind yourself that they are likely looking to get into a fight, which you will not win.¬† If it’s about something that you’ve disagreed with them about, instead of getting into a fight about your reasoning just tell the manipulator that your decision is your decision and that it’s not up for discussion.

Telling manipulators that you are not willing to discuss your disagreements with them and also telling them that it’s okay if you disagree every so often is one of the best techniques you can use to avoid a lot of their own techniques.¬† They will try and bring it back to the specific issue and to the details of the issue (Which always bend to their will.) so that they can talk circles around you and make you seem like a fool for deciding what you did.¬† Bringing the discussion back up to the fact that they’re really upset that you’re disagreeing with them stops them in their tracks and forces them to accept your decision.

While telling someone that your opinion is not up for discussion can often close people out of your life and make you viewed as an enormous jerk, when dealing with a manipulative person it is the best option you have.¬† However, because we would so rarely tell someone who was not manipulative that the issue wasn’t up for a discussion (As this is traditionally how you would treat a child, not an equal.) it usually doesn’t occur to us to do so with manipulators.¬† Nonetheless, it works wonders.

I was hoping that I would be able to wrap this up in this post, but there are still several items to go, as well as what to do in general about manipulators in your life, what I did about the manipulators in my life and suggested methods of managing them as a whole.¬† I’ll post the third part, and the conclusion on Tuesday next week.

Part 3 is up!  You can find it here.

2 Responses to “Dealing With Manipulative People Part 2”

  1. jaxi says:

    great examples! this would be a great article to share with non profits dedicated to preventing dating abuse (akin to domestic violence/abuse).
    thesafespace.org
    dosomething.org/abuse

  2. Travis says:

    Very cogent analysis on social behavior. Keep it coming!

  3. [...] 1 is right over here, and Part 2 is here.¬† You’re already on part 3, so let’s waste no more time and get right to [...]

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