Manipulation is a way a person tries to influence you in an unfair manner. It’s a very toxic way of behaving and is often learnt during childhood as a way to gain the upper hand or have needs met. Here are 5 ways you are being manipulated and how to avoid it.
Manipulators use you against yourself and will twist a situation, words or actions in order to get what they want. They have little to no respect for you and try to offload their own guilt when you point out something that makes you feel sad or uncomfortable.
Boundaries will often be disregarding by people who manipulate as a way to getting what they want and if you are feeling disrespected and/or taken advantage of, the chances are you have been manipulated.
Manipulators struggle to take accountability for their actions and will often play the victim in situations where they have behaved unfairly. They will blame everything or everyone else for their actions, rather than looking at themselves and trying to understand their part in something. They will also be the first to point out your faults but take no part in accepting their own.
Minimising is a tactic used to show that your feelings are not as valid as theirs. Phrases like, ‘you are being too sensitive’ or ‘your trying to make me feel bad’ are rolled out routinely. It won’t matter how you try to explain your feelings, they will be reflected back to you as smaller than they are or that you are not allowed to feel as you do.
Another tactic used is passive aggression. This behaviour is very covert and is usually felt internally rather than physically. It makes you wonder if its actually happening or if you are imagining it. Which makes it a very successful behaviour for manipulators as they can deny accountability for the behaviour if you point it out.
Physical, verbal or emotional aggression is used in situations where other methods are no longer working. Verbal aggression usually looks like criticism, but its not constructive that you can use to become better, its the slating kind that hurts. Personal attacks or emotional aggression will be about you as a person, how you handle life or things other’s have said about you. They will have a sting and leave you feeling like perhaps its not them but you at fault. These are designed to leave you feeling unbalanced and unsure if things happened as you recall. Physical aggression will be overt and will include threats or actual bodily harm.
Projection is the act of projecting or blaming the other person for something that you actually feel yourself. Projection is more of a by product of a manipulative person rather than a conscious behaviour they use, but is worth mentioning so you do not allow the person to use their own projection to make you feel something that is their own fear or behaviour.
When dealing with someone displaying these kind of behaviours its worth baring in mind that they more than likely have no control over it. Learned behaviours such as manipulation are utilised because the person has no other ways to deal with their emotions and need for control in a more productive and kinder way. Whilst its not your fault, its your responsibility to remember this and deal with it accordingly.
Identify the behaviour
Whether it be passive aggression or minimising once you become aware what is happening then you can begin to put boundaries in place. Sticking to your boundaries is the best way to deal with a manipulator, you no longer have to compromise or take into account this person. Once they use underhand tactics they forfeit the right to receive that. You should have no guilt when you do this, it is your human right not to be manipulated
Take no responsibility
Unlike the manipulator you can and do take responsibility for your actions, however when you identify you are being manipulated you must not take on board any projection of how they are feeling. You can acknowledge it, but do not take responsibility for it, that’s not your job. As long as you are not being vicious and unkind but merely enforcing loving boundaries then you have no need to take responsibility for this. Acknowledging is when you voice an understanding to their feelings. Taking responsibility is when you feel guilt and try to fix it.
Repeat your boundaries firmly
Any boundary you have put in place is not up for compromise. This will be the main focus for a manipulator, to get what they want at your expense. It will take longer to navigate at first, especially if the person is not used to a boundary being upheld. However, the more you instil boundaries, the more a manipulator will decide not to enter into that sort of behaviour with you. So in the long run it will pay to stick firmly to what you have outlined. It may be you have to say no several times, or point out that you do not wish to change your mind. You have to be firm and not take to heart whatever is thrown back at you and have faith that you have every right to be respected even if you are not doing what the other person wants. A respectful person may feel frustrated but will accept your stance, even if they do not like it.
Do not justify yourself
As human we often need to justify ourselves and our actions in order to feel self worth. This is amplified when we are being manipulated as the manipulator get under our skin and make us feel we are the ones in the wrong. Remember you are a good person and you do compromise and try to find a common ground with people whenever you can. However, when manipulation is being used you no longer have to.
Manipulation is grown from no respect for another individual and a selfish view that everyone should service that persons needs. When in truth, no one deserves or has the right to have anything their way. Life and relationships, be it with a child, partner, friend or colleague is all about sharing the need to be right or have things their way. Its a 2 way street of wins and losses.
People who feel the need to compromise or who are more empathetic tend to be subjected to more manipulation that those who do not take things so much to heart or who are used to setting and upholding boundaries. Manipulators are masters at sniffing out weakness and whilst compromising and being empathetic are far from weak (quite the opposite) they are used as a weakness from those with no control over themselves.
Having the mindset of ‘i deserve better’ will go a long way to making sure that people with less than wholesome intentions do not put you in situations you feel unhappy or uncomfortable in. We all want to see the best in people and whilst i will never say manipulators are bad people. Their behaviour is and should NEVER be tolerated. If they choose to use tactics that are underhand without finding a way forward in life that doesn’t involve this, then those on the receiving end should not take any responsibility for that.
Once you have identified the ways you are manipulated you can successfully navigate they ways to avoid it and retreat from being put into a situation like that. It’s something we all need to learn to do and then perhaps manipulation would not be as pervasive as it currently is.
Have you ever been manipulated before? Do you have any good ways to deal with this? Let us know in the comments