People manipulate because they feel powerless inside and can’t get what they want any other way. Therefore, they must resort to indirect means and trickery to get their needs and wants met.
There are many ways, people, especially bullies, manipulate:
1. Guilt Trips – manipulators will make you feel guilty when you don’t let them have their way and continue to violate your boundaries. If you “dare” to stand up to them, they’ll become offended and angry, trying to make you believe you are the bad guy.
Many times, when I was young, I had others tell me that if I didn’t do what they wanted, then I wasn’t a good friend, or I was selfish, stingy, or greedy. The other person would always play the loyalty card.
Manipulators may also attempt to make you feel obligated somehow. They may refer to when they did something for you and imply that you now owe them somehow. For example, if a partner asks a girl for sex and she tells them she’s not ready to take that step yet, the partner will then say something to the tune of, “I just took you out to a five-course dinner and treated you to a great movie…” Blah-b-blah.
Let’s be clear, you don’t owe them anything, especially if it’s a date trying to get in your britches, or someone trying to talk you into joining them in doing something illegal. If something doesn’t feel right and you get the feeling you’re better off not going along, trust your instincts. And say no, then tell them to either beat it or take you home right then!
2. Pretending not to understand – “I don’t know what you’re talking about!” We have all heard that line many times. people will claim they don’t understand when, in fact, they know darn well what you’re saying but don’t want to know. Do not fall for this! Either walk away, or tell the person, “don’t give me that crap. You know exactly what I’m talking about.” Then, walk away.
3. Being friendly only when they (the manipulator) expect something in return – Every single one of us has dealt with those types- you know the ones. You never hear from these people and they may even treat you cold when they see you out and about. Then, suddenly, magically, out of the blue, they call you up or start being friendly. Next, they ask you for a favor, some help with a problem they are dealing with, or maybe they need a little cash. And so, you help the person and once they’ve gotten what they wanted, it’s back to true blue.
Ditch this person because you don’t need them in your life.
4. The silent treatment – This is one of the most common tactics manipulators use and it’s done to exploit the natural and very strong human need for social acceptance and community. And let’s face it. We are all hardwired for social connection. Furthermore, it’s natural to go silent on someone when they’ve done us wrong. However, the silent treatment can also be abused by manipulators when they don’t get their way and can be damaging to the target when used against them.
If a bully or anyone else tries to get you to do something you don’t want to do, no law says that you have to do it. And how you protect yourself and your self-esteem against this childish behavior is to mirror it. In other words, when someone gives you the silent treatment, you give it back to them. Always remember that two can play that game!
5. Acting as if an agreement has been made when there’s been no agreement at all – This can be the most infuriating to a target. These people will often go ahead with their plans before you’ve made an agreement or they’ll tell you something like, “Remember? We agreed to so-and-so last week,” knowing darn well you never agreed to anything. Manipulators will try to put words in your mouth to strong arm you into giving them their way.
Don’t go along with this. Give this person their walking papers. Pronto!
6. Suggesting negative outcomes to the target’s plans – Anytime you have plans, there will be people who will try to break your confidence by giving you words of discouragement. For example, if you plan to record a CD, they might say things like, “I’m not trying to disappoint you, but chances are your CD will never chart.” Or “I hate to say this, but it’s no guarantee a producer will ever sign you to a record level.”
If you’re planning to publish a book, someone might ask you, “How do you know your book will even sell?” Or they might ask, “Do you really think you’re that good of a writer? You need to be honest with yourself.”
They may also ridicule and belittle your goals and dreams to make you feel like your dreams are stupid, or something to be ashamed of.
Trust me, I had people do the same to me but it never discouraged me, it only ticked me off and made me double down on my plans to publish my books. And the best part is, I finally did it!
I advise you to do the same if a shady character tries to discourage you from pursuing your plans, goals, and dreams. Realize that the reason people discourage you is because they’re so afraid that you just might succeed. In fact, the very possibility of you succeeding scares them to death! Why? Because your success would force these jerks to take a long look at themselves and their own pathetic lives.
7. Distracting the target from goals – If a jealous manipulator knows that you’re striving toward a goal, they will deliberately try to distract you. Again, the reason people do this is because, deep down, they’re afraid that you might succeed and force them to compare your life to theirs.
Point blank, these people want so badly for you to fail. And they want you to stay on the same level as them so they won’t be left in the gutter alone and feel so bad about themselves. For example, people might be real sneaky about it and begin inviting you to parties or trying to get you drunk.
When they do this, they can claim that they only want you to have a good time instead of sitting at the house studying all the time. Or they may be more overt and interrupt you while you’re working or play loud music while you’re trying to concentrate. Again, these people are scared to death of your success and they will very slyly put out all the stops to distract your attention. So, beware.
How you combat this is to politely decline any invites or go to a place where you can work quietly and not be interrupted or distracted.
With knowledge comes empowerment!