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We like to think that they shoot straight and are forthright in their intentions. We also like to believe that they will ask for what they want and not resort to crazy tactics to get it. Unfortunately, however, there are times when we come across those who will do whatever it takes to get what they want...including manipulation. Being manipulated never feels good, but the worst part of manipulation is that often, we don¶t even realize that it is happening. Here are a few ways to know if someone is trying to manipulate you: Buttering You Up: To get their way, manipulators will often make you feel good so that they can then ask you to do something that they want. The person may first compliment you or tell you what a wonderful job you did on something. Making you feel good will, in their mind, make it difficult for you to say no«after all, you wouldn¶t want to disappoint them or give them reason to think you didn¶t deserve the compliment in the first place. What you can do: Return the compliments and the niceties before saying no. Guilt: This doesn¶t only pertain to Catholics and Jewish Mothers; guilt trips have been a successful manipulation tactic for centuries. The saddest part of this strategy is that the victims of this tactic succumb to the manipulators¶ demands because they feel they HAVE to, not because they WANT to. In personal relationships, this sets up a co-dependency that is extremely unhealthy. What you can do: Ask the individual if they want you to do something because you have to or because you want to. If they say they want you to want to do it, tell them that you don¶t and that they are trying to force you into something you don¶t feel comfortable with. Broken Record: Probably the most obvious of formats is the broken record tactic. If a person asks you enough or pushes their agenda enough«constantly repeating the question or request over and over again«in slightly different ways, the victim will inevitably give in and give them what they want. Oye! What you can do: Ask the individual what they don¶t understand about the word ³no.´ Tell them that asking you over and over again isn¶t going to change anything and that they are inappropriately over-stepping boundaries. Selective Memory: This one gets me the most. You swear you have a conversation about a plan and everyone is on the same page, and then one day, the manipulator pretends to remember the conversation completely differently, if at all. What you can do: Record your conversations«seriously! Okay, maybe not. At least have a witness that you can count on to back you up if the person pulls this shenanigan. Call them out on the fact that they conveniently change the game to fit their needs. Bullying: If a person doesn¶t get their way, they make you out to look or feel like the bad guy«like you are the wrong one. What you can do: Be firm and tell them that their bullying tactics are inappropriate and unacceptable. (*)If you don't know what manipulative behavior is, are any of the following statements true for you, at least some of the time? - I pretend to be incompetent, play the victim, act helpless, or admit too often that I am stupid. - I say "anything you want" when I don't mean it or I lie about how I feel - I say ³promise me´ or I act overly concerned. - I promise to change my behavior knowing perfectly well that I don't want to change. - I blame others for my problems. - I act ignored, forgotten, hurt, wounded, unloved, or uncared for. - I act angry or throw temper tantrums . - I act depressed or suicidal. If at least one of those statements is true for you, you ARE manipulative. What you are doing is trying to make people feel guilty when you want to get something or some attention. Unfortunately, most of us have been made feel guilty by our parents, teachers, ministers, or telemarketers. It is so ingrained in us that we don't even realize we are being manipulative. (Read the article "Guilt trips: Is guilt one of your tricks?") Manipulative behavior and guilt are used by everyone. Consider this: even Gandhi was using guilt when he went on hunger strikes. His intentions were pure, but his ways were still manipulative. He wanted people to feel bad so they would do something. The problem with guilt is that it makes people do something they don't really want to do. So they feel uncomfortable but they don't exactly know where it is coming from. However they do know YOU make them feel bad, so they slowly - or rapidly - distance themselves from you. And you resent them for it. The best way to deal with this problem is to be really honest with yourself and realize when you are manipulating others. Then, by putting yourself in their place, you can change your behavior and be the nice person you want to be.
(**)Manipulation is defined as a deliberate thought process. Not behavior, but thought. A cognitive, shrewd, artful planning, setting into motion a plan, an idea and make that idea a reality. Scientists manipulate genes, lab rats and additional parameters, skillfully and deliberately, not as a reflex. When the mind is skillfully forming specific algorithmic (step by step) instructions, then we can call this manipulation.
Manipulation is a response, not a reaction. Knee-jerk is a reaction. Again, we go to the definition of the word. Manipulation is defined as a thought process, not a behavior process. Behavior is only the product.
Manipulation is a set of behaviors whose goal is to: Get you what you want from others even when the others are not willing initially to give it to you. Make it seem to others that they have come up with an idea or offer of help on their own when in reality you have worked on them to promote this idea or need for help for your own benefit. Dishonestly get people to do or act in a way which they might not have freely chosen on their own. "Con'' people to believe what you want them to believe as true. Get "your way'' in almost every interaction you have with people, places, or things. Present reality the way you want others to see it rather than the way it "really is.'' Hide behind a "mask'' and let people see you in an acceptable way when in reality you are actually feeling or acting in an ``unacceptable'' way for these people. Maintain control and power over others even though they think they have the control and power. Make other people feel sorry for you even though it would be better for them to make you accept your personal responsibility for your own actions. Get away with not having to do the things necessary to meet your obligations, responsibilities, and duties in life. Involve everyone in your life's problems so that you do not have to face the problems alone. Keep everything the same so that the "status quo'' is not affected or changed. Make others feel guilty or responsible for actions or thoughts which are yours alone. Get others to feel like they are responsible for your welfare so that you do not have to make a decision or take responsibility for anything that goes wrong in your life.
Often the person who seeks therapy is experiencing feelings of fear, insecurity or other severe inner conflicts. The individual is frequently overwhelmed by the amount of anxiety with which he has to deal and is overpowered to the point that he cannot function adequately in his daily living (Psalm 55; Luke 21:34). In an attempt to relieve the pain this anxiety causes, people engage in a variety of behaviors. One such behavioral expression is that of destructive manipulation (DMB).
Anxiety, as a symptom, is a component of almost every mental-health disorder and generalized anxiety is widespread. In order to relieve this internal pressure, the individual may feel compelled to do something without understanding why he is doing it, perhaps by engaging in DMB. This is his way of decreasing anxiety and his attempt to gain mastery over himself and his environment. Many therapists believe that some of the factors that subsequently lead to anxiety and the use of DMB are related to:
Fear of close relationships; Distrust of others;
The desire to be liked by everyone; Difficulty in forming meaningful interpersonal relationships; A poorly defined repertoire of coping
The inability to gain and maintain self control with a sense of personal integrity; mechanisms; Decreased acceptance of rational authority; and Unsatisfied love needs.
These therapists also believe the use of destructive manipulative behavior decreases the anxiety because it brings an individual the attention he desires by having his immediate needs met.
According to the research literature, DMB carries with it a heavy negative weight and is defined as an interpersonal behavioral process designed to meet one's needs or goals by exploiting and/or controlling the behavior of others without regard for their rights, needs or objectives (Phil. 2:34).
Research reveals there are two forms of destructive manipulative behavior: (1) overt - aggressive, hostile behaviors directed against or toward others and/or oneself and (2) covert - passive behavior that attempts to control others or to get needs met in an indirect manner
Two Basic Types of Aggression There are two basic types of aggression: overt-aggression and covert-aggression. When you're determined to have something and you're open, direct and obvious in your manner of fighting, your behavior is best labeled overtly aggressive. When you're out to "win," dominate or control, but are subtle, underhanded or deceptive enough to hide your true intentions, your behavior is most appropriately labeled covertly aggressive. Now, avoiding any overt display of aggression while simultaneously intimidating others into giving you what you want is a powerfully manipulative maneuver. That's why covert-aggression is most often the vehicle for interpersonal manipulation.
Acts of Covert-Aggression vs. Covert-Aggressive Personalities Most of us have engaged in some sort of covertly aggressive behavior from time to time. Periodically trying to manipulate a person or a situation doesn't make someone a covert-aggressive personality. Personality can be defined by the way a person habitually perceives, relates to and interacts with others and the world at large.
The tactics of deceit, manipulation and control are a steady diet for covert aggressive personality. It's the way they prefer to deal with others and to get the things they want in life.
The Process of Victimization 1. A manipulator's aggression is not obvious. Our gut may tell us that they're fighting for something, struggling to overcome us, gain power, or have their way, and we find ourselves unconsciously on the defensive. But because we can't point to clear, objective evidence they're aggressing against us, we can't readily validate our feelings. 2. The tactics manipulators use can make it seem like they're hurting, caring, and defending, almost anything but fighting. These tactics are hard to recognize as merely clever ploys. They always make just enough sense to make a person doubt their gut hunch that they're being taken advantage of or abused. Besides, the tactics not only make it hard for you to consciously and objectively tell that a manipulator is fighting, but they also simultaneously keep you or consciously on the defensive. These features make them highly effective psychological weapons to which anyone can be vulnerable. It's hard to think clearly when someone has you emotionally on the run. 3. All of us have weaknesses and insecurities that a clever manipulator might exploit. Sometimes, we're aware of these weaknesses and how someone might use them to take advantage of us. For example, I hear parents say things like: "Yeah, I know I have a big guilt button." ± But at the time their manipulative child is busily pushing that button, they can easily forget what's really going on. Besides, sometimes we're unaware of our biggest vulnerabilities. Manipulators often know us better than we know ourselves. They know what buttons to push, when and how hard. Our lack of self-knowledge sets us up to be exploited. 4. What our gut tells us a manipulator is like, challenges everything we've been taught to believe about human nature. We've been inundated with a psychology that has us seeing everybody, at least to some degree, as afraid, insecure or "hung up." So, while our gut tells us we're dealing with a ruthless conniver, our head tells us they must be really frightened or wounded "underneath." What's more, most of us generally hate to think of ourselves as callous and insensitive people. We hesitate to make harsh or seemingly negative judgments about others. We want to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they don't really harbor the malevolent intentions we suspect. We're more apt to doubt and blame ourselves for daring to believe what our gut tells us about our manipulator's character.