Manipulators can be found everywhere. In fact, it is likely that we too, on some occasions, have resorted to emotional manipulation tactics, inadvertently or knowingly. But the manipulators make this "emotional game" their way of relating to others, to constantly take advantage of the situation to the detriment of the psychological balance of their victims.
Emotional manipulation involves controlling someone by playing with their feelings and emotions, often damaging their self-esteem and self-confidence. The common tactic of manipulators is to make the victim doubt himself, to take control and take advantage of the situation.
However, it is difficult to defend against manipulators and recognize manipulative people because they are usually people close to us with whom we have a deep emotional bond. On the other hand, they often use very sophisticated and subtle emotional manipulation techniques that make us doubt ourselves, even leading us to think that we are the "bad guys".
Manipulative people with whom you need to be very careful
1. The masked braggart
The tactic of this manipulator is to make us feel bad or inferior in a veiled way. This person understands that they would not be frowned upon if they bragged about their accomplishments, because others would immediately accuse them of being presumptuous. So he adopts a more subtle strategy: he complains about his successes, making us feel bad because we are far below his level.
The masked braggart will never directly tell us that we have a few extra pounds, but will complain that he cannot wear an "M" size when we wear an "L" or even an "XL". He is the person who complains that he cannot run more than 30 kilometers when he knows perfectly well that we can only run 5 kilometers before falling exhausted.
The masked braggart will use his secret technique in all spheres of life, he will subtly compare himself to us to make it clear that we are not at his level and that we should feel guilty about it. In this way he also presents himself as a kind of idol to imitate, because we put ourselves at his disposal and satisfy his desires.
2. The sower of ideas
These manipulators use a very subtle tactic: They press us with socially accepted and well-regarded ideas to agree with their views and decisions.
They usually start their speech with phrases like: "I'm sure you'll agree with ..." or "There's no denying that ...". For example, they may say, "You will agree that a good son takes care of his mother." These are all generalizations that reflect positive values, but undoubtedly they have many nuances and can vary from one case to another. But presenting them in this way puts us in a difficult situation in which we should respond: "No, I disagree with what you say".
In reality, this manipulative tactic is to present these ideas as socially accepted values, so if we don't share them, we automatically turn into bad people, and we won't even be given the time to argue our opinion. Thus they manage to make us feel bad and manipulate us, if we do not find the strength to deny their claims.
3. The permanent disappointment
When we love someone, we feel better if we do something that makes them angry rather than let them down. Disappointment is a difficult burden to carry, we feel very bad when we know we have disappointed someone important to us and we feel bad people for doing it.
This type of manipulator knows this and plays the card in his favor. Therefore, he will be constantly disappointed. Whenever we do something they don't like or don't meet their needs, that person won't hesitate to let us know how disappointed they are. The problem is that the guilt we feel is so great that we agree with him and put ourselves at his mercy.
We don't realize that letting someone down just means we haven't lived up to the expectations this person had of us. Disappointing someone means that this person had mapped out a path for us in our place and we did not follow it. In fact, we have every right in the world to follow the path we have chosen, and we shouldn't feel bad about it.
4. The chronic victimizer
This type of manipulator makes us feel indebted to him. He never tires of pointing out all the misfortunes he has suffered in life, so we feel that for some strange reason, which we can't even understand, we owe him something.
Because every time we meet him he has a new misfortune to add to his long list, we don't feel strong enough to become the "monster" who will add a new problem to his life while he's going through a bad time.
The problem is that that person will take advantage of that feeling to ask us for a favor and make sure we meet their needs, even at the expense of ours. But if we put ourselves at his feet, he will not hesitate to step on us to continue to tell his misfortunes to others, leaving us with our problems to solve.
5. The selective listener
When we are engaged in an argument, we can lose patience and say things we don't actually hear or regret. However, this type of manipulator will cling to that phrase or attitude, and will blame it on us until the end of time.
It doesn't matter what we said before or after. No matter the context in which we said it or if we try to apologize, this person will use our mistake to submit to his will, pointing out to us how wrong we are and how bad we are.
His strategy is to wait for us to make a mistake, take it completely out of context and use it to manipulate us emotionally. This person will only focus on our mistakes, because they are the ones that allow him to achieve his goal, and all the good we do will simply erase it.
6. The martyr
He is one of the worst types of manipulators because he justifies his misdeeds and selfishness with some higher cause. It could be a religious cause or something more mundane, like having been a good father or a good mother.
His favorite phrase is: "I am doing this for your own good" or "I am just trying to help you" when we know that this is not the case and that the main beneficiary will be himself.
However, if we point this out to them, these people claim that they take no pleasure in behaving like that, but they do it because it is right. In fact, they may go so far as to tell us that the decision hurts them and makes them suffer, therefore, they assume the role of martyrs. And the worst thing is that they make us feel horrible people because we are unable to appreciate their "sacrifice".
7. The inquisitor
This manipulator uses direct criticism as its main weapon. His tactic is to make us feel that we are unable to take the reins of our lives, are not up to the task and need to rely on him for everything to work out.
At first the criticisms are subtle and indirect, but over time they will become more acidic and will deeply undermine our self-esteem. In this way he imposes on us his vision of reality, his rules and values, to the point that we end up seeing ourselves through his eyes.
The inquisitor is a true master of emotional manipulation and absolutely everything we do or say will be used against us because he will use it to judge us and put us in an awkward position.
Either way, don't let them take control of your life. Don't let them make you feel guilty or judge you for your decisions based on their own yardstick alone.
Because people manipulate
Manipulation is a complex behavior underlying several reasons. Many people manipulate others because:
- They want to feel powerful and experience some degree of superiority in relationships.
- They want to be in control of the relationship and decision making of others.
- They want to achieve their goals so badly that they don't mind doing it at the expense of others.
However, behind these reasons there is an even more complex psychological picture. In fact, many people manipulate because they feel fear. They are afraid that if they do not intervene by manipulating the playing field in their favor, they will not achieve the desired results.
The mother who manipulates the child by pretending to be indisposed to keep him by her side actually has a deep fear that the child will abandon her. The worker who tries to manipulate his boss by talking badly about his colleagues is actually afraid of losing his job or not getting promoted. The person who manipulates his partner into believing that he is worthless does so because he wants to keep him by his side, even if it damages his self-esteem.
This means that, deep down, manipulators are deeply insecure, don't trust their ability to achieve what they want on their own merit and resort to manipulation. Therefore, manipulation is nothing more than the expression of a frightened "child" who does not have mature strategies to achieve his goals in life.
Manipulation is a kind of relational and communicative shortcut in which the person quickly achieves what they want but, in the long run, usually leads to opposite results because when someone realizes they are being manipulated, the relationship they are purported to maintain ends up compromised. . Therefore, manipulating is never the solution.
How to fight a manipulator? Find out your weaknesses
To effectively fight a manipulator we must understand what our psychological blind spots are, those keys that the manipulator presses and with which he keeps us trapped in his net. To do this, it's important to understand that manipulative people often face some of the following vulnerabilities:
- The innate desire to please others, even at the cost of sacrificing our desires.
- Dependence on the approval and acceptance of others, so much so that they always end up accepting what they say.
- Locus of external control, which implies that we think we have no control over our life, so that we will be more likely to leave decisions in the hands of others.
- A blurred concept of identity, which leads us to establish few limits that others continually exceed.
- Lack of assertiveness and inability to say "no" when someone tries to pressure us.
- Emotophobia, that is, the fear of experiencing negative emotions such as frustration, sadness or disapproval, which leads us to try to avoid conflict at all costs, even at the expense of our own freedom.
- Naivety, so it's too hard to accept the idea that some people are cunning and manipulative.
- Emotional dependence, characteristic of insecure people who have a more submissive tendency, therefore we are more likely to be manipulated and exploited.
- Low self-esteem, which is usually linked to feelings of low self-reliance and low self-confidence, so we tend to trust others more easily.
- Excessive sense of duty and responsibility, which prevent the person from cutting ties with the manipulator or setting limits, because we think that in reality it is only his fault.
By identifying the feelings that the manipulative person is leveraging on, you will be able to break free from his or her net more easily because suddenly the manipulation situation will be much more evident to your eyes.
In any case, remember that no one has the right to take control of your life. Don't allow them to make you feel guilty or judge your decisions using their yardstick. Chances are you're not perfect and have made mistakes, like everyone else, but that doesn't mean you have to live by letting someone else pull your strings.
In - Warning! Manipulator in sight -, you can find tactics and strategies to get out of the networks of emotional manipulation.