I’m guessing we’ve all had our fair share of being manipulated in one way or another unbeknownst to us or not. It’s not a great feeling right? Especially if we know that we are being manipulated, but it seems like there’s no other choice other than going for what they want.
What exactly is manipulation? Merriam-Websters defines the word “manipulate” as to control of influence (a person or a situation) cleverly, unfairly, or unscrupulously. In other words, it is being controlled by someone in an unfair manner. Manipulative people are often self-serving. Their interests and gains are the only things that matter; You don’t. It’s very subtle so you may not realize that you are being manipulated until later on. That’s why it’s important for you and me to be aware of the little signs of manipulation so we can avoid being the victim.
The first two things that you should watch out for are their actions and words. To be honest with you, it’s very hard to spot manipulators especially if you are the target.They will often disguise their interest as your interest. Please always remember that manipulative people don’t want to help you, they want to control you and keep you from outgrowing them. Do you always feel like you’re the only one talking about yourself? Do they clam up when you ask them questions about themselves? You should watch out for their actions too! Are they being extra charming and nice to you when they want to get something from you or they want a favor? There are times that this behavior is harmless but manipulators will often bring up what they did for you if you refuse to do the favor they are asking.
If they made you dinner for three days, before asking for a big amount of cash. They will often use their effort as a leverage against you and tug on your conscience. Keep in mind that you are not obligated to do something for someone just because they did something nice for you. 🙂
Next, watch the behavior of the person if they don’t get what they want. Most manipulators will yell at you, criticize you, or threaten you to get you moving to the direction that they want. But there are also some manipulators who will place themselves as the victim. The manipulative individual may do something nice for you then hold it above your head. Their expectation of you returning the favor will increase and they will act out if you don’t. They will also try to gain your sympathy. Don’t fall for this. Don’t do something that you don’t want to do, just because the other person is forcing you to. If you want to return the favor but through another method – one that is safe and comfortable for you – then that’s the action that you should choose to do.
Manipulative people are also often passive-aggressive. Don’t put up with this. They want you to feel bad and guilty for saying “No” to their request.
So, once you’ve realized that you may be dealing with a manipulative individual, what can you do about it?
- IGNORE TEMPER TANTRUMS. Just like how we were taught to deal with toddlers, you should also do this for manipulative people to discourage their behavior. Have you noticed that once a child cries and trashes around and you give in to their demands, they tend to do it again next time you say no to them? Ignoring them is the best method. You want them to realize that their tantrums doesn’t work on you, and that it’s not going to give them what they want.
They will most likely stop.
Don’t get emotional. Once they know what to do that can trigger a reaction from you, they will use that.
- CUT OFF. It may be hard at first especially if the manipulative person is a family member or a close friend, but sometimes you just have to do it for your own mental state. If you can’t cut them off, you can just set limitations. For example, listening to whatever it is that they want you to do, agreeing to it, but in the end, you go do what you want to do anyway.
- THEY WILL TRY TO ISOLATE YOU. When you are alone, you will most likely feel more vulnerable and if their temper tantrums or passive-aggressiveness didn’t work, they will look for another way to get to you – which is to cut off your support system. They will get close to people who are close to you to be able to gather information about you and they will try to turn these people against you.
You better watch out for their tactics. Manipulative people often get desperate if you don’t do what they want you to do.
If this happens…
- LET THEM KNOW THE LIMITS AND ENFORCE IT. Let them understand that you will no longer be okay with how they are treating you, and that if they don’t stop there will be consequences. Stop listening to their words that make you feel judged or inadequate.
But the real tactic to avoid being manipulated is to be aware of it. You should recognize a guilt trip. If you are the one who is always saying sorry even for something that you didn’t do. Always remember that it’s okay to say “NO”. The manipulation will stop the moment you force it to stop. Stand up for yourself and realize that you also need to be treated with respect.
Always ask yourself: “Is this person treating me with respect?”, “Is this a one sided relationship?”, “Do I feel good about myself in this relationship?” Also, do not be so quick to say “Yes” or agree to a person… You can always say that you will think about it.
If after reading this, you’ve realized that you are a little manipulative, you should do something to stop your behavior. Enforce boundaries of what you are allowed to do and won’t do.
Did you have to deal with manipulators in the past? How did you handle it?