Defending yourself from manipulators: 5 practical strategies

Manipulation is a phenomenon that has touched us closely at least once in our life, it is fair to recognize that on some occasions we have probably assumed the role of the manipulator but on many occasions we have instead been manipulated by becoming victims.

So ... what to do? How to defend yourself from manipulators? We might know the psychoanatomy of a manipulator perfectly but if we do not have the proper weapons to face it, we will most likely end up falling into its web.

How to fight a successful manipulator?

Below I summarize five strategies to defend oneself from successful manipulators and which will also contribute to personal growth and the maintenance of adequate psychological balance.

  1. Express what you disapprove of and how you feel

One of the manipulation techniques focuses on criticism. When we criticize a person's behaviors, attitudes, decisions and abilities…, they usually feel less confident and are more likely to accept the manipulator's needs. In other cases, the person adopts a defensive, almost aggressive attitude, I would say directed to counter all the arguments that annoy him. In the first case the manipulation is carried out starting from the management of our self-esteem, in the second case starting from the control of our emotions. In one form or another, we remain at the mercy of the manipulator.

What to do?

Express our ideas clearly and simply. It is essential that the other person realizes that he will not be able to influence our judgment or reflexive capacity starting from the manipulation of our self-esteem or our emotions. Aggressively countering the arguments of the other, which many times do not have a solid foundation, would only lead to a useless discussion and the impossibility of understanding each other.

We must always keep in mind that our goal is not simply "not to let mono manipulate us for any reason" but to change the situation. Why this goal? Because surely the person who will try to manipulate us is an important person for us and we will therefore be interested in reaching an advantageous agreement, either to maintain a good personal relationship or to develop a business together. Thus, it is essential that our message not only be understandable but also that it is received by our interlocutor with as little resistance as possible.

Also remember that expressing how we feel about something or someone is a highly effective technique, as long as it is implemented correctly and with respect for the other. When our interlocutor listens to us talking about our moods, he will have the perception that communication flows, is open and sincere. Also, we will "force" him to put himself in our shoes, to be empathetic with what we feel so he will likely reflect on the effects of his manipulative behavior.

  1. Express yourself

On many occasions the manipulator takes the conversation to no man's land, makes criticisms without personalizing, from an uncompromised position; always leaving an escape route in case someone asks him who he is referring to.

The best defense against this communication strategy is to personalize, personalize, personalize… Always speak in first person and ask for clarification. An example could be: “I feel you are referring to… is that so?”."Forcing him" to take responsibility for his criterion of judgment it normally disarms the manipulator and blocks his strategy.

  1. Limit responsibilities and accept your mistakes

Another of the manipulative techniques par excellence is that of make the person feel guilty, make him feel responsible for everything that has happened, what happens and what will happen.

On some occasions we have a certain share of responsibility but our share of "guilt" is not infinite. A very effective strategy is to delimit our responsibilities and recognize our mistakes. We have the right to make mistakes but no one has the right to take advantage of it and tear our self-esteem apart because we made a mistake.

Recognizing our difficulties and our share of responsibility indicates that we are mature people, responsible for our actions, and therefore not very manipulable.

However, a question remains: how to put the previous three points into practice?

  1. Express yourself with firmness, serenity and confidence

We have already said that one of the manipulator's favorite weapons is to play with emotions. For this reason it is essential to establish dialogue from a position of trust, firm and serene.

We must always keep in mind that the manipulator is not interested in initiating a constructive debate but only in achieving his goals, for this reason if we offer him some logical arguments that contradict his ideas, he will probably take our opinions and reuse them according to his interests. We always remember that even the best idea can be seen in a different perspective and the manipulator is very skilled in playing with the different possibilities.

So… what to do?

Recognize that his ideas are valid, do not criticize them, rather, use phrases such as: “I understand your point of view and I respect it; although I believe that ... "or:" your point of view is adequate; but even so there is always the possibility that… ". In this way a model is inserted into the conversation: by respecting the opinions of others, giving value to his ideas, we will also give value to our own.

Neurolinguistic programming (NLP) experts also recommend replacing the annoying “but…” with words like: however, anyway, despite… that are less harsh and are better accepted.

Taking this strategy, even if it is not totally foolproof, will undoubtedly help us to control our emotions and offer a more serene image of ourselves.

  1. Feel free to deny yourself

If we have solid and sufficient bases against the idea that is proposed to us, then… denying ourselves will not be a sin. However, we shouldn't get lost in trivial excuses or self-blaming explanations. Expressing our disagreement is a right which allows us to establish our limits and highlight them in front of the people around us.

Accepting the requests of others to avoid an argument often involves giving up a part of our individuality and giving in to manipulation. So just be consistent and say "No" as often as necessary.

Deciding to fight a manipulator does not lead us to an easy path to follow, we will encounter many obstacles. Many times this implies giving up the comfortable positions we have taken for the duration of our life, whether in the family environment or at work, but it will undoubtedly allow us to be more consistent with ourselves and make it easier for us to find the way. to find our emotional balance.

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