Being able to recognize the signs of a manipulative person is sometimes difficult. It is important for us to have tools in our repertoire in order to be cognizant of behavior that is disingenuous and/or manipulative.
Manipulation is often used to coerce a conversation, instead of engaging in one, and can be used to intimidate and control.
Often, we go along thinking the best of folks and second-guess ourselves instead of second-guessing another person’s motive. We all need to be more attentive to our ever-present, and often disregarded intuition. If it just feels yucky or off, it probably is.
I have compiled a short list of signs that might alert us to manipulative behavior. Face it, we all are guilty of manipulation on some level, so we need to keep these in mind to guard against other’s subtle or aggressive manipulation, as well as our own possible conscious or unconscious motives.
These are but a few tactics used, and some of what I have found in my research over the years:
Feigning innocence: Quite often a person who is being manipulative will be adept at pretending they have no idea what you are talking about when confronted with their manipulative behavior: Who me? Be careful not to question your own instincts.
Shame and guilt: “You don’t care enough about me”, “I would never do that to you” or “You are selfish” are a few phrases used to shame or guilt a person. This is also an attempt to deflect the responsibility away from them.
Minimization: When you attempt to explain your feelings, a manipulative person will assert that his/her behavior was “not that bad.” Meaning: you are wrong to feel the way you do.
Victim Blaming: Turning your circumstance, tragedy, etc. into their triumph: “Oh, poor so and so, I hope they manage to get their life back together.” This is an attempt to make themself look compassionate, yet it is a dagger thrown at the victim while simultaneously claiming a self-righteous stance.
Anger and Control: “This is the way it is going to be and there will be no discussion about it!” Slamming of doors, walking out, and yelling are tools used to manipulate and coerce a person into submission.
Remember, you have a right to your feelings so don’t give your strength and power away.