Many of us like to think the best of people. 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:
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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 “no.” Tell them that asking you over and over again isn’t going to change anything and that they are inappropriately over-stepping boundaries.
4. 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.
5. 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.