How often are we manipulated without noticing it? These games start in our early childhood, shown to us by adults. Depending on our personality, we use the same instruments later to get what we want from others. Because we cannot or do not want to honestly say what needs we have, or we are just too scared of a rejection.
Small manipulations in everyday life are no big thing, as long as they do not get out of hand. Do we keep having troubles with manipulative people, or are we more likely related or married to them, then it is time to recognize the patterns, understand them, and fight them off, to defend ourselves from other people’s manipulation.
Before we really get angry with a ‘nice’ person, we should think about the following questions:
- What makes a manipulator?
- What ways of manipulation are there?
- How do we quickly recognize that we are being manipulated?
THE FOUR MOST CHARACTERISTIC SIGNS OF MANIPULATION
Psychologists distinguish between four different behaviour patterns that lead to emotional blackmail. But be careful: some people do not only use one, but several at the same time to get their way. However, first of all, it is important for you to recognize these four behaviour patterns:
- FIRST EXAMPLE OF A TYPICAL MESSAGE: “I WILL BECOME ILL IF YOU DON’T LOOK AFTER ME!” (PUNISHING ONESELF)
If somebody says this to you, he tells you that he has to suffer if you do not respond, or only partly respond to his wishes or demands. He actually wants to express that your actions are responsible for his health or at least his wellbeing.
- SECOND EXAMPLE OF A TYPICAL MESSAGE: “I WILL SUFFER, IF YOU GO ON HOLIDAY WITH YOUR FRIENDS.” (SUFFERING)
People, referring to their pain because you have not responded to their demands, are pitying themselves. With their sad face they spoil your good mood and cause guilty feelings. They want to make you believe that you are so important for them that they cannot be happy without you, or even cannot live without you. In fact they are thoroughly manipulating you.
- THIRD EXAMPLE OF A TYPICAL MESSAGE: “I WILL GET ANGRY/IMPATIENT/ANNOYED/FURIOUS, IF YOU DO NOT DO WHAT I EXPECT (PUNISHING)
You will hear these or similar statements from people who want to punish you emotionally or physically. At the same time you can distinguish between the active punisher (he turns angry or aggressive) and the passive punisher (he sulks or retreats).
- FOURTH EXAMPLE OF A TYPICAL MESSAGE: “I GIVE YOU … IF YOU DO THIS FOR ME!” (FLATTERING)
They could also be called bribers. They do you a favour only if you do what they expect. Perhaps the reason why this form of subtle manipulation is so common, is that gifts make one forgive, generous or understand without having to mention the basic problem.
Additional literature on the topic:
Forward, Susan; Frazier, Donna: Emotional Blackmail: When the People in Your Life Use Fear, Obligation, and Guilt to Manipulate You