how to deal with manipulative people

I’m sure we’ve all come across manipulative people at one time or another. That’s because everyone can be manipulative sometimes. What’s more, many people are unaware that they are being manipulative, as this is often a subconscious process. However, learning to identify and correct this trait can be imperative to healthy interactions and relationships.

What makes a manipulative person? Whether done fully consciously or subconsciously, a manipulative person uses actions and communication to manipulate other’s behavior or actions for their benefit.

Manipulative Personalities

There is a number of different manipulative personalities. Some of the main manipulative personality types are: Martyr, Needy and Narcissistic. You may find that lots of manipulators will fit into one of these three categories to some extent.

Martyrs are individuals who will go above and beyond to do something for you. Those deeds will later be thrown in your face as to say: Look what I did for you! What have you done for me?! This personality relies on playing the guilt card. Every good deed is used as leverage to get something back in return.

As the name suggests, the Needy people are the ones who are constantly in need of your help. As the saying goes, squeaky wheel gets the grease. They are always dependent on you to constantly help them out with all of their problems. They expect you to respond to their neediness, thus manipulating you.

Narcissism is a complex character disorder. Lacking their own self esteem, narcissists derive it from those around them. They seek constant praise from others to feel complete. Narcissists need to feel appreciated and loved by people around them. Therefore, they can go to great lengths to manipulate people to gain their appreciation and praise.

There is one other manipulative personality that I want to mention. That is you and I. That’s right, we have all engaged in some type of manipulation at one time or another. The difference is, most of us only do it occasionally. That is without a daily malicious plan in mind.

How to Deal With Manipulative People

1. Don’t Give In to The Guilt

Manipulators know that if they make you feel guilty, they will get their way. But the guilt trips have a tendency to wear out, and often back fire at the manipulator. The key is to identify a guilt trip early. Once you understand what’s going on, there are a few methods that you can use to counter them.

Turn the guilt back on the giver. Once you hear a guilt statement, counter it by expressing that it’s you that feels under-appreciated and hurt. The manipulator will surely try to deny this, at which point you simply agree with them.

Another effective way to deal with a guilt trip is with a statement that abruptly ends the conversation. As you are being made feel guilty of an action, simply agree with it without accepting the guilt. Acknowledge that you are indeed doing this, and that you feel it’s the right way to proceed.

2. Stay Away From The Mind Games

One manipulative tactic is to use a third party as an “authority figure”. Such as: He or she said that you should have done this and that. Don’t fall into this trap. Quickly establish your position by stating: I didn’t realize that he or she were an expert on this subject matter. Surely if they were, thy would realize that there is more than one approach to deal with this situation.

3. Avoid Confrontation

Often in a friendship or a relationship setting, one member wants to have control or attempts to have influence over the other person, by creating a confrontation. They deliberately use confrontational statements to immediately upset you and create an argument as a way to manipulate your emotions.

In this scenario, it’s important not to allow them to manipulate you into a fight. Remain calm and politely avoid the argument. Use your body language to support what you’re saying. For example in addition to a verbal response, shake your head and use a hand movement to indicate a “no” statement.

4. Beware of People Who Use Love For Bargaining

It’s quiet common for people to use love as manipulation. They will begin with: Because you love me, I know that you will do this. Here, you must explain to them, that especially since you love them, you can not do as they want, but are actually benefiting them by your actions.

5. Pay Attention

As you’re dealing with manipulative people, it’s very important to pay attention your own feelings. By being aware, you will know when you’re being manipulated against your will. Are you being pressured to feel obligated or guilty? Do you feel that as soon as you help them out, they will come back with more needs or demands? Stay aware of your answers as they will be the true guide to your interaction.

Live well. Vlad

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2 Responses to how to deal with manipulative people

  1. Think Again June 2, 2012 at 4:04 am #

    Here’s a manipulative tactic I’ve seen played out many times by a manipulative person:

    (1) Pesters Person A to say yes to her requests by asking over and over again until Person A gives in out of sheer exhaustion
    (2) Reports to a friend that Person A “is so happy and excited about doing xyz” which was just reluctantly agreed to.
    (3) Person B thinks to himself, “Well, that’s not something I would have wanted to do, but if Person A is going to do it, I guess I’ll sign on too.” (peer pressure)
    (4) End result – Manipulator used the social relationship between Person A and Person B to get both of them to do what she wanted, but neither A nor B wanted to participate in that activity in the first place.

    • Vlad Rapoport June 2, 2012 at 6:21 am #

      Wow, thank you for this real life example of manipulation. Sounds like a very sophisticated 3 way approach! What makes it so frustrating, is that the parties don’t even realize how they are being played.

      In a small group of people however, it’s just a matter of time until the truth surfaces. At this time I would suggest good communication between all the parties and setting up of boundaries to prevent it from reoccurring.

      Good luck! Vlad