How to spot manipulation? – My article in Complete Wellbeing, March 2015 issue…

‘They know your weaknesses, they use them to have a control over you, while using them they exploit your emotions for their benefits and finally if they succeed to do so, they keep on exercising such tactics to manage you in their favour you might wonder whom I’m talking about?! Nope, I’m not talking about any microorganisms or malware, but I’m talking about even more harassing routine tactics practiced by some people. These tactics are popularly known as manipulation and through such approach individual’s intention is to exercise power or control over other individual. I’m not talking about mutual benefits or help in relationships but it is about one-sided benefits or exploitation. This is not as easy to make out as simple it is read, these manipulative tactics go unnoticed or hidden unless you become aware or sensitive about it.

Media, advertising industry, politicians, leaders, businessmen etc. use manipulations frequently and effectively for their benefits. This is understandable fact but what difficult to digest is, why someone manipulates in relationship?! Psyche behind manipulation is complex and deep-rooted. It varies from personality to socio-familial learning. Simple understanding is Individuals who cannot express their needs assertive takes shrewd route of manipulation. Whatever may be the psyche behind such manipulative behaviour but one thing is certain that it will always leave victim in a bad taste. If you don’t want to fall in such trap or get emotionally exploited by manipulators, you have to be aware about what tactics they use. Your awareness will help you to spot manipulation early and effectively so that you can handle such people.

Manipulators have lot many tactics in their bag and they use them deliberately or even unconsciously. They may keep changing them and some of them may be their favourite. Most commonly used technique is creating guilt in victim’s mind. Guilt can make anyone weak, if targeted smartly and usually one succumbs to it. (‘You should not do this to someone like me who loves you against all odds’, ‘this is what you return for love and care that I always showed for you?!’ ‘Being selfish is not good. You should also think about other person’s pain and suffering’). They may throw assumptions about your intentions, behavior, beliefs or choices to justify their emotions or actions.(‘I thought that you will never disagree to my proposal’ ‘I’m sure you will be very happy doing this’, many times it include statements using “suppose”, “guess”, “wish”, etc.). They may show fake concerns or sympathy, make empty apologies, offer bribe-favours or give gifts to manipulate. Complaining, lying, comparing, making excuses, rationalizing, denying, blaming etc. are also very commonly used for such deceptive or abusive tactics. Moreover they can be evasive and forgetful in their approach or dealings (‘there is no point discussing this. I hardly remember anything about what I said on that day’). Emotional blackmailing is something which they are master at. For such blackmailing they may use fury, bullying, threats, accusations, shame or guilt. (‘You have all right to be annoyed as I forgot to wish you on your birthday. I should have told you of personal emergency I had on that day but I never wanted to spoil your special day’, ‘I feel very sad that you guys, whom I loved so much refuse to understand my point of view’).  They may use love as a bargain tool (‘If you love me, you will not deny for sex’, ‘you cannot betray me if you love me’). They may become conveniently ignorant or innocent at times (‘I was not aware that it will take so long otherwise I would have not asked you to finish it today only’). They avoid promises, agreements or conversations to succeed in manipulating the victim. Sometimes they turn themselves into self-pity modes, portray helplessness, behave needy or act like a victim (I’m so unloved/sick/victimized…) One of the smart tactics is to make you agree on small thing, and then real game starts. Once you have agreed, it becomes difficult to say no and they enjoy controlling you through this trap (‘can I take five minutes of yours?’ and will end-up taking half an hour explaining insurance policy you should take from him). Many times flattery play tricks for them. They use their charm effectively to get what they want. They may guide you to do things in certain ways, ways beneficial to them. Being passive-aggressive is one more way to manipulate where one avoids direct confrontation but makes sure that their behavior leads to what they want or intend. In fact, anger or hostility expressed indirectly in non-confronting way and still for own benefits. Shrewd, isn’t it?! You can spot them seeing acting with different faces with different people and in different situations. Keeping your eyes open for their actions can also make many things clear to you. Finally, listen to yourself; listen to your gut-feeling; spotting such manipulation will become easier. I can go on charting and filling pages with many such ways; which can help you to spot manipulation. However, what concern us more than tactics used are indirect, deceptive, abusive or underhand motives behind them. Once you are aware of these methods, you can further think of not falling in to these traps and getting rid of such manipulations or manipulative people.

You have to understand that majority of manipulators thrives on your weaknesses and only spotting their manipulative tactics will not serve any purpose, it may make you feel more helpless. You have to work towards building your self-esteem and self-respect, which can prove your best defense. You have to exercise assertiveness in dealings with them and set boundaries to keep healthy distance. You should be aware of your rights and know when they are being dishonored or manipulated. You have to stand up for yourself and your rights unless it genuinely harms others. You do not have to feel guilty or blame yourself for not satisfying manipulator. When you have a doubt, do not afraid to ask exploratory question and see how genuine answers you get. If you find evasive explanations, accusations or counter arguments, you have to prepare yourself to tackle it effectively without shame or guilt. You have to learn to say ‘No’, may be firmly, assertively or tactfully and at times brutally too. Many people tolerate manipulations because they fear outcome but if you want to stop getting exploited, you have to be prepared for facing consequences. It may make you insecure initially but on long run it may help you to increase your self-esteem and self-respect as well.

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Dhaval Telang says:

    Oh its so important for every one… I got this on right time.

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