Article published on LinkedIn.com: April 19, 2023
We have all known manipulative people whether they
are friends, family, or our spouse. These are the people who
know how to push our emotional buttons.
They could frighten, coerce, compel, criticize,
guilt, bribe, blame, undermine, intimidate, abuse. Or they
flatter, offer sympathy, and act innocently, but not
It's all emotional blackmail. It's manipulation!
Here we only trace an outline of emotional
But emotional manipulation, for example, in a
married life can be more complex and must be handled with
great sensitivity and care.
Contact your health department even if you are the
only person ready to act.
A specialized counselor can guide you in your first
steps towards recovery.
What is the manipulation?
In short, manipulation is a dishonest way to satisfy our needs.
We all have legitimate needs for physical survival and emotional
well-being. And healthy people know how to appropriately ask
for what they need and how to interact with others to achieve
good results for everyone.
However, manipulative people sneakily try to influence someone to reach
their ulterior motive. And manipulation involves control and
Manipulate: to control or coerce another person by crafty, unfair or insidious,
harmful, but attractive means, especially for one's own
not allowing another person to choose their own action or
response by controlling it in some way.
Constraint: to fulfill one's own desires by intimidating, holding back or dominating
Why is manipulation bad?
Manipulation is an attempt to take away the ability to freely
determine whether to perform certain acts and to replace them
with our own selfish desires or twisted motives, in order to
do so in a way that completely disregards the worth and
dignity of the other person.
Why do people manipulate?
People can be manipulative because of their own hurt, pain, or
immaturity. They tend to react with anxiety rather than being
preoccupied with the particular situation.
They lack the relationship skills necessary for healthy
interactions. They never learned or denied self-awareness,
humility, empathy, and a willingness to take responsibility
for their own actions.
Manipulation is the only way they know to relate to others.
Then there are those who rely on others to fix things, pay for
them, or cover them so they don't have to be responsible.
this sense, some people have a behavioral disorder and enjoy
manipulating others, even to the point of hurting them.
conduct disorder is characterized by socially undesirable
conduct, such as poor impulse control or an inability to
maintain close emotional relationships, and the absence of
anxiety or guilt.
Manipulative people may have different reasons behind their actions, but
they generally fall into three basic categories or styles:
these people pose as the one in charge and it's up to you to
do whatever they want no questions asked because, they say,
it's for your good.
They tend to be pushy and easily angered. This is what we can commonly
call brutes. Force is their primary tactic, but they can also
coax you into submission with a mesmerizing charm.
Savior, facilitator, messiah:
these people have done something for you, and it is
believed that because they « saved
» you from anything, you owe them a debt of gratitude forever and you
should do things their way.
To make you feel guilty and bend to their will, they usually use comments
followed by reminders of the things they have done for you.
And like the master, the savior personality could also benefit
from the phrase « It's for your own good. »
these people are often overlooked as manipulative because they
are « poor me.
» These pseudo-victims know there's a lot of power
in appearing helpless.
Yes, something legitimately bad could have happened to them, but their
main tactic is to use this as an excuse to trick you into
giving in to their wishes and demands.
Regardless of the style of the
manipulator, their script is the same. They command the action
you're supposed to take, and you're supposed to do what they
want without refuting.
If you notice this pattern in any of
your interactions, you might be in an unhealthy relationship
with a manipulative person.
What are the signs of manipulation?
Emotional manipulators are generally
They start with a subtle manipulation
and raise the stakes over time, so slowly, you don't even
realize it's happening.
So, what should you watch out for?
They undermine your confidence in your
understanding of reality.
Their actions do not match their
They are experts at distributing
They claim the role of the victim.
They are an emotional bottomless pit.
They eagerly agree to help and maybe
even volunteer, then act like martyrs.
They are always one step ahead of you.
They know all your emotional buttons
and aren't shy about pushing them.
This is not an exhaustive list.
By observing, you may find that it is
not always easy to recognize when someone is trying to
manipulate or control you.
Remember, the sneakier a manipulator
is, the harder it is to recognize their endgame.
Still, with the manipulation being so
destructive, it's important to have a general idea of what to
But be careful not to assume that
someone loud and, lively is trying to coerce you, it could
just be an outgoing personality.
What are the impacts of manipulation?
Having another person takes or try to
take your freedom through retaliation, projections, or abusive
behavior that makes you question your sanity can have an
extremely negative impact on you, whether physically,
emotionally, and spiritual.
You can develop:
Increased mental stress and physical
Depression or anxiety.
Compromised self-confidence, which can
cause you to doubt yourself.
A threatened sense of reality that can
make you feel if you're going crazy.
Feelings of helplessness or shame.
Unhealthy behaviors to try to cope
with stress and fatigue.
There is no place for manipulation:
In the form of threats or physical
Verbal denigration or insults.
To try to make you feel guilty for
doing what they want.
A covert type of emotional abuse where
the bully or abuser deceives the target, creating a false
narrative and causing them to question their judgments and
Here, the important thing for your
health and your success is to put an end to it.
How to stop being manipulated?
If you think you are in a relationship
with someone who tries to manipulate you or if your work
environment is polluted, we suggest you follow these steps:
Be conscious and open-minded:
ask yourself, is this person really
trying to override my choice and make me act the way they
Remember that there is a difference
between sustained encouragement and manipulation.
it is when you are honestly told the truth for your own good
and then left to make your own decision. The person accepts
and respects your final decision, even if they disagree.
it's when you're told something that may be true, but it's
ultimately for the benefit of the manipulator.
Essentially, he won't let you make
your own decision and won't accept or respect your decision.
The manipulator will keep pushing until you make the decision,
he wants you to make.
Get advice from a health expert:
this is especially important if the
manipulator is your spouse or a family member.
A counselor can help you identify any
underlying personal issues you may be dealing with and guide
you through the best ways to navigate your interactions with
the other person. An outside perspective can help you see
things more clearly.
Is this person secure enough for those around you?
Confronting someone one-on-one is the
best way to address disagreements between two people.
is this person secure enough (physically, verbally,
emotionally) to be confronted, or will there be a negative
backlash against me if I do it?
If you are unsure of the person in
question, do not confront them. Under these circumstances,
things will likely be thrown in your face and blamed on you.
Here again, the contribution of an advisor can be important.
Set and enforce healthy
stop playing the manipulator scenario. Set and enforce healthy
boundaries. Boundaries keep you from being hurt, and they have
consequences for people who try to cross them.
The more destructive, the manipulation, the
firmer, the boundary should be. You may need to increase the
physical or relational distance between yourself and the other
person, even to the point of stopping all contact until the
unhealthy manipulative behaviors stop.
What to expect when you stop
When you stop
playing the manipulator scenario, you can expect one of three
things to happen:
they will be upset for a while
but will eventually admit their behavior and make changes in
their personal life. The manipulation will stop. This is the
best outcome, the one we hope for and pray for.
The person will become a worse version of themselves:
she or he will become more forceful, more verbally demeaning,
or she or he will increase the pressure on you to back off, go
back to the script, and do as she or he tells you.
You might even see all three styles of manipulation in the same person as
they work to get what they want: the master turns into a
savior who becomes the victim who turns into a master who
turns into a savior and then the cycle repeats itself.
It is always possible that this person will change, but it is unlikely.
This is why you need a good support strategy.
The person becomes physically
and rationally dangerous:
the person becomes an aggravated version of her or himself and becomes
physically and rationally dangerous.
This person may try to ruin you financially, or even file charges against
you. Because you won't do what she or he wants, she or he will
go out of her or his way to hurt you in some way. This person
can be extremely dangerous, and you will need emotional
support and possibly legal protection to weather the storm.
Luckily, this type of situation isn't as common, but you still
need to plan ahead to keep your surroundings and loved ones
Where can I find additional help?
We live in a broken and fallen world with people who are hurting. We need
to be discerning about members of the community, our
workplace, our church, our families, and our marriages.
And, as much as it depends on us, we should live in peace with everyone.
However, we have to be discerning, especially when you have to
rub shoulders with and even deal with a manipulative person.
Do not hesitate to talk about it at work with the boss or the human
resources department and even to consult the health department
in your region.
If you are experiencing discomfort at home or socially, speak with a good
friend, clergy member, health counselor and if you experience
or perceive verbal and emotional abuse that could lead to
violence, do not hesitate to contact the authorities.
All of these contributors will certainly help you make sense of your
situation and will give you suggestions for the next steps.
Here we all need to remember Dr. Dorothy McCoy
comment, « Manipulation is a contagious disease, much more
dangerous than the flu because it can endure for a lifetime. »
Find out more about « understanding each other »
with My Success Is Your Success. The book through
questions, quotes and reflections provides the necessary
elements to explore all about motivation so to shape your
success and help those around you do the same. Remember that
success is all about team efforts!
This book is the result of forty years
of experience acquired with local and international
organizations and companies and during consultancy,
change management, transition and marketing services.
personal development book was published by WebTech
Publishing and is available online in English, North
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About the Author
ISO Pour Tous
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d’information ISO – Le guide de préparation ISO – La
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projet d’affaires – Le
changement POUR TOUS –
Change your future,
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Germain Decelles, o.s.j.
WebTech Management et Publication Incorpored