How to know if someone is manipulating you
Psychological manipulation can be defined as the exercise of undue influence through mental distortion and emotional exploitation, with the intention to seize power, control, benefits, and privileges at the victim’s expense. Like it or not, manipulative people are everywhere. Manipulation is about trying to influence your behavior or perceptions through indirect and perhaps deceptive tactics that advance the interest of the manipulator. Bad as it sounds, it’s a very common human tactic. It’s not just politicians and big corporations that try to manipulate you; it’s very likely your boss, your partner, your angelic children, and even dear, sweet Mom. Willful psychological manipulation is different than healthy social influence, in which there’s a generally equitable exchange between individuals. In a psychologically manipulative relationship, one person exploits another for selfish and unscrupulous gain. Manipulation has a more academic term Machiavellianism. In personality psychology, Machiavellianism refers to a cynical and manipulative approach to interpersonal relationships that embraces “moral flexibility” for personal gain. People high in Machiavellian traits, or “Machs,” place a high priority on money, power, and competition, and are said to pursue their goals at the expense of, or at least without regard for the welfare of, others. Machiavellianism has also been identified as a member of the “dark triad,” a group of socially aversive, self-centered traits that also includes narcissism (a grandiose sense of one’s own superiority to others and feelings of entitlement to special treatment) and psychopathy (callous disregard for the rights of others combined with reckless impulsivity). Although all three members of the dark triad share a common core of interpersonal antagonism, there has been debate about to what degree they are distinct from each other. In particular, there have been concerns that existing measures of Machiavellianism essentially tap the same traits as psychopathy, and therefore may be redundant However, a recent study suggests that Machs are notable for their political ambition, whereas psychopaths do not care much for politics. Hence, there may be a meaningful and theoretically relevant distinction between Machiavellianism and psychopathy after all. Although the concepts of Machiavellianism and psychopathy share common elements, such as willingness to use manipulation and deceit to achieve one’s goals, psychopathy is also associated with impulsivity, whereas, in theory, Machs should be more planful and oriented to long-term rather than short-term goals. Additionally, it has been suggested that, unlike psychopathy, Machiavellianism is associated with less violent, less overtly aggressive forms of misconduct, such as cheating, lying, and betrayal, especially when retaliation is unlikely or impossible. For example, Machs are more likely to cheat on term papers than multi-choice tests. Hence, their cheating tends to be strategic, rather than recklessly impulsive.
So what motivates one to manipulate and how do people become manipulative?
The first factor that cuases one to become manipulative is family history. People that become manipulative were often influenced influenced by certain manipulative family members thier life as there as in the family dynamic there was an struggle for economic or social survival and moreover competition for power, control, love and affection, relational standing and acceptance, status and privilege, monetary and material resources, or other types of real or perceived “advantage. Another factor that can make one manipulative are experinces of social weaknesses and/or disadvantages during durning one’s formative years. What this means is manipulative people were excluded in any way whether its socially, economically, culturally, professionally and longed to become part of the accepted norm. The thrid factor to consider is whether there were any social, professional, or societal norms which encouraged cunning, scheming, bargaining, haggling, exploiting human weaknesses, devising Machiavellian ruthlessness, or other forms of indirect influence and power. For example, some professions lend themselves much more to persuading people than others. Some societies normalize competitive bargaining in business and social interactions while others do not. Certain affiliated groups have a stated purpose of convincing others to see things from their vantage point. If an individual was strongly exposed to any of these influences, he or she may have internalized certain manipulative tactics into behavioral norms. These are some examples how one may manipulate:
- Playing dumb
Chronic manipulation often (but not always) emerges from a highly competitive environment, in which various parties (family members, classmates, coworkers, social groups, societal affiliations, economic interests) jockey for power, influence, resources, and advantage, and where one feels a lack of direct and abundant power/control over a situation. The manipulator, feeling a sense of deprivation, insufficiency, and disadvantage, or conversely craving for more power, influence, and advantage, resorts to cunning and underhandedness in order to attain what he or she desires. Over time, this type of behavior can become chronic and habitual, with inevitable destructive consequences.
So how can you tell if someone is manipulating you?
Most manipulative individuals have four common characteristics:
- They know how to detect your weaknesses.
- Once found, they use your weaknesses against you.
- Through their shrewd machinations, they convince you to give up something of yourself in order to serve their self-centered interests.
- In work, social, and family situations, once a manipulator succeeds in taking advantage of you, he or she will likely repeat the violation until you put a stop to the exploitation.
The goal of manipulation is to gain influence to get our needs met, but habitual manipulators do so for power and control and use deceptive and abusive methods. Manipulators maintain domination through continuous, recurring emotional manipulation, abuse, and coercive control. Often they’re passive-aggressive. They may lie or act caring or hurt or shocked by your complaints? all to deflect any criticism and to continue to behave in an unacceptable manner. In maintaining control to do what they wish, manipulators aim:
1. To avoid being confronted
2. To put you on the defensive
3. To make you doubt yourself and your perceptions
4. To hide their aggressive intent
5. To avoid responsibility
6. To not have to change
Eventually, you are victimized and can lose trust in yourself and your feelings and perceptions. Gaslighting is a treacherous, disabling form of manipulation. Manipulation may include overt aggression, such as criticism, narcissistic abuse, and subtle forms of emotional abuse. Favorite covert weapons of manipulators are: guilt, complaining, comparing, lying, denying, feigning ignorance or innocence (e.g.“Who, me!?”), blame, bribery, undermining, mind games, assumptions, “foot-in-the-door,” reversals, emotional blackmail, evasiveness, forgetting, inattention, fake concern, sympathy, apologies, flattery, and gifts and favors. When manuipulative people lie they aren’t lying because they’re afraid and guilty, but to confuse you and do what they want. Some simultaneously put you on the defensive with accusations and other manipulative tactics. Lying may also be indirect, through vagueness and/or omission of material information, though everything else said is true. Manipulative people make conscious denial to disclaim knowledge of promises, agreements, and behavior. Denial also includes minimization and rationalization or excuses. The manipulator acts as if you’re making a big deal over nothing or rationalizes and excuses his or her actions to make you doubt yourself or even to gain your sympathy. Another tactic manipulative people use is avoidance. Manipulators want to avoid being confronted and having to take responsibility at all costs. They may avoid conversations about their behavior by simply refusing to discuss it. This might be combined with an attack, like “You’re always nagging me,” putting you on the defensive with blame, guilt, or shame. Avoidance can be subtle and unnoticeable when a manipulator shifts the subject. It may be camouflaged with boasting, compliments, or remarks you want to hear, like, “You know how much I care about you.” You might forget why you were upset in the first place. Another avoidance tactic is evasiveness that blurs the facts, confuses you and plants doubt. The tatics of blame, gulit and shame projection, a defense where the manipulator accuses others of his or own behavior. Manipulators believe “The best defense is a good offense.” By shifting the blame, the aggrieved person is now on the defensive. The manipulator remains innocent and free to carry on, while their victims now feel guilt and shame. Guilt-tripping and shaming shift the focus onto you, which weakens you while the abuser feels superior. Martyrs use guilt when they say or imply “After all I’ve done for you,” sometimes combined with criticism that you’re selfish or ungrateful. Shaming goes beyond guilt to make you feel inadequate. It demeans you as a person, not just your actions. This can lead to comparision. Comparing is a subtle but powerful form of shaming. It’s harmful when parents compare siblings with each other. Guilt and shaming may include “blaming the victim.” With shame manipulative people can intimidate you. Intimidation doesn’t always involve direct threats. It can be achieved with a look or tone and statements like: “I always get my way;” “No one’s irreplaceable;” “The grass isn’t any greener;” “I have friends in high places;” “You’re not so young anymore;” or “Have you considered the repercussions of that decision?” Another strategy is telling a story meant to provoke fear. If they don’t sham, intimidate or blame you then they play the victim. This is distinct from blaming the victim. Rather than blame you, this “poor me” tactic arouses your guilt and sympathy so you’ll do their bidding. When you comply, it only breeds resentment and ncourages continued manipulation. Guilt over someone else’s behavior or predicament is irrational guilt. Now this bring me to my next point of an more extreme form of manipulation: Gaslighting
What is gaslighting?
Gaslighting is a tactic in which a person or entity, in order to gain more power, makes a victim question their reality. It works much better than you may think. Anyone is susceptible to gaslighting, and it is a common technique of abusers, dictators, narcissists, and cult leaders. It is done slowly, so the victim doesn’t realize how much they’ve been brainwashed. The term gaslight comes from a 1938 play that was later made into the iconic film starring Ingrid Bergman. In the story, the character Bella is made to feel like she is losing her mind by a manipulative husband who feeds her false information. People who are gaslighted doubt their sanity and lose a sense of identity. At its heart, gaslighting is overriding your reality to the point that you question your own judgment, hence the mantra. “If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes truth.” thus why they tell blatant lies witha straight face. Why are they so blatant? Because they’re setting up a precedent. Once they tell you a huge lie, you’re not sure if anything they say is true. Keeping you unsteady and off-kilter is the goal. Even after you show them proof, they deny they ever said something. You know they said they would do something; you know you heard it. But they out and out deny it. It makes you start questioning your reality—maybe they never said that thing. And the more they do this, the more you question your reality and start accepting theirs. An Common misconception of gaslighting is that the goal of an gaslighter is to destory someone. The goal of an gaslighter is to make things easier for themelves. Unlike in the movie, most gaslighters aren’t pursuing anything as concrete as a treasure chest of jewels. What they want is more psychological. The gaslighter wants the target around on a specific set of terms, with the gaslighter in charge. For the same reason, gaslighting isn’t always conscious. Indeed, gaslighters don’t sit around stroking their goatees or petting a white cat while plotting to undermine your sanity. Instead, gaslighting comes from the need—conscious or unconscious—to control. Gaslighters work to undermine you so you can’t challenge them. This brings me to the next point using what is near and dear to you as ammunition. Gaslighters know how important your identity is to you. So those may be one of the first things they attack. know how important your identity is to you. So those may be one of the first things they attack. By using what is near and dear to you as ammunition, they can algin people against you. Gaslighters are masters at manipulating and finding the people they know will stand by them no matter what—and they use these people against you. They will make comments such as, “This person knows that you’re not right,” or “This person knows you’re useless too.” Keep in mind it does not mean that these people actually said these things. A gaslighter is a constant liar, thier actions do not match thier words. When the gaslighter uses this tactic it makes you feel like you don’t know who to trust or turn to—and that leads you right back to the gaslighter. And that’s exactly what they want: Isolation gives them more control. This can motivate them to tell you or others that you are crazy. This is one of the most effective tools of the gaslighter, because it’s dismissive. The gaslighter knows if they question your sanity, people will not believe you when you tell them the gaslighter is abusive or out-of-control. It’s a master technique. After they make you crazy, they tell you everyone else is an lair. By telling you that everyone else (your family, the media) is a liar, it again makes you question your reality. You’ve never known someone with the audacity to do this, so they must be telling the truth, right? No. It’s a manipulation technique. It makes people turn to the gaslighter for the “correct” information—which isn’t correct information at all. To further confuse you they throw in positive reinforcement. By doing so they wear you down over time. This is one of the insidious things about gaslighting—it is done gradually, over time. A lie here, a lie there, a snide comment every so often…and then it starts ramping up. Even the brightest, most self-aware people can be sucked into gaslighting—it is that effective.
so how can you fight back?
Because the experience of manipulation centers on helplessness and confusion, as if the usual rules of relationships have been rewritten to benefit the other person, it’s important to learn that you can respond to this behavior in effective ways. Not every controlling move can be neutralized, and not every manipulative person in your life will respond to each technique, but in general, these are the best ways to hold on to your sanity. Broadly speaking, the first principle in working with a manipulative person — particularly a rageful or easily triggered one — is safety. If your relationship makes you feel unsafe, you must develop a plan to maintain your well-being. Find a person you trust and explain the situation in detail. If your home environment doesn’t feel safe, take yourself out of it temporarily (or permanently, if need be). Be prepared to let them know that you cannot communicate while being screamed at, and say you will leave until they calm down. (You may choose to add that you’ll come back later, to try again.) When you do initiate a conversation, do it in a noncombative way. This means choosing the right time to talk. Sometimes you’ll need to set limits when a boundary has been transgressed; at other times, you’ll choose not to escalate a small argument into a larger one. In the case of an gaslighter setting limits will allow you to stop and think to resist the attempt to be influenced. If you suspect they are vulnerable to feelings of abandonment, be aware of the times when he or she feels alienated or rejected. Engaging at times like these will not lead to fruitful discussions, and neither will the tactic of withdrawing from them to punish them. You’ll need to be aware of your own mood, too, when confronting the manipulative person in your life because your own feelings can easily (and not always helpfully) affect the conversation you’re trying to have. Taking a noncombative approach also means declining to fight back when you are attacked. Arguing about the facts won’t be productive, either; you’ll just get caught in the weeds as in the case of deeling with an gaslighter telling they are lying onlt makes things worse. In fact, it’s much better to hear your them out and to reflect thier feelings back in your own words. Try to absorb and restate their position, rather than reacting to it, even if you don’t agree with thier interpretation of the facts; you can still try to relate honestly to the emotion behind this interpretation. You may even want to ask the other person if you fully understand their message. Respond with “I” statements that reflect your own truth, but without blaming, interpreting, or diagnosing. When it comes to stating your point of view, you’ll need to be absolutely clear about what you believe. It can be difficult to retain your perspective in the face of the distortions, exaggerations, or emotional intensity you may experience. Remember: You have the right to your opinion, to express your wants and needs, and to be treated with respect. You also have the right to say “no.” When you encounter a distortion of the truth aimed at blaming you, declare that you know you’re not to blame and won’t take responsibility. Stating this aloud helps you to stay grounded in your own perspective. Keeping these facts in mind can help you ground yourself while stating your position. Ask for what you need — for instance, an apology, a change in the way you’re treated, or just an acknowledgment of your perspective. Make it clear that you are responsible for your choices, just as the other person is responsible for thier behavior. If the other person response is an defensive attack and tries to pivot to another topic, confuse the issue, or shift the responsibility onto you, don’t be distracted. In confrontations like these, you’re very likely to be emotionally provoked or overstimulated, but try to stick to your original point, hold on to what you know is true.
In the face of lying, scrutinizing of your thinking, distorting the meaning of your words, twisting the truth, or blaming you—all aimed to misdirect you—determine what you believe to be the truth and hold firm to that within yourself. This helps to reduce the self-doubt and keep you grounded in the intent of the gaslighter’s behavior coming at you. Stay focused on the conflict, and don’t bother arguing about the argument, state that if they are not willing to discuss your concern, you’ll need to end the conversation. You will also need to end the convostation if you experience a personal attack again or an attempt to change the subject, then state that if they are not willing to discuss your concern. Though when you you find someone stubborn enough give in to avoid the hard time from the gaslighter. It’s perfectly fine to choose this path but most importantly is to stay true to your own perception and be clear with yourself that you don’t agree and you’re choosing to avoid the hassle. On the other hand, even as you’re asking for your feelings to be respected, you will need to respect the feelings of the other person. Thier response may represent a genuine expression of feelings, rather than an ill-intentioned lie. Even if they cast aspersions that aren’t accurate, you may be able to concede that you would feel exactly as they do if these things were true. Hold this distinction in your mind as you try to disagree without invalidating the other person’s point of view. When responding to the person you find manipulative, the most important principle is setting limits in a clear, consistent, and nonjudgmental way. Your overall point should be that these limits — for example, the need to be free from desperate midnight phone calls or from irrational rage when you get home late — will make your relationship better. Good boundaries and mutual respect will make it easier to get along. With dealing an gaslighter however point out what you observe about the gaslighter’s behavior that makes communication difficult and, at times, impossible. Don’t get stuck arguing about the reasonableness of your own limits; you only need to say they’re important to you. Set clear consequences for boundary violations, such as “If you keep yelling at me, I will have to go out, because I can’t talk to you when you’re like this.” Add positive consequences, too. It’s also important to know when to walk away. In all honesty, your partner, friend, or relative may never be able to regulate thier emotions well enough to treat you fairly. If this becomes clear, end the conversation. Once you have made your point, and have been clear about what you’ve been asking for, you should feel some confidence that the other party — at some level — understands what you’re after. If things end this way, it’s progress, even if you don’t get the satisfaction you were originally seeking. Overall, in coping with manipulation, it’s best to follow four basic principles: Know your rights and your limits; set clear, appropriate boundaries in a respectful and neutral way; recognize and avoid the other person’s efforts to escalate the conflict or muddy the issue; and always make sure to protect your own safety.
1. How can we tell if someone if being manipulated? what is the first step into telling if someone is being manipulated?
2. were you ever manipulated before? what were you manipulated into doing?
3. did you ever manipulate someone before? what method did you use alot?
4. what is an form of manipulation that is hardest to spot? what is a form on manipulation that is hardest to stop?
5. what motivates someone to manipulate?
6. what is the difference between manipulation and healthy social influence?
7. what is the difference between persuasion and manipulation?
To live is to risk it all; otherwise you’re just an inert chunk of randomly assembled molecules drifting wherever the universe blows you