Manipulation: What it Costs You

MarilynDavisatTIERSStarred Page By MarilynDavisatTIERS, 26th Jul 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Personal Development>Self-awareness

“And pity--people who inspire it in you are actually very powerful people. To get someone else to take care of you, to feel sorry for you--that takes a lot of strength, smarts, manipulation. Very powerful people.” ― Deb Caletti, The Secret Life of Prince Charming

Manipulation Feels Powerful

When we manipulate people into doing something for us that we are capable of doing, we can feel powerful and in control. It is self-serving and self-centered and often involves deceit and dishonesty to manipulate people.

So, how can you become aware of your manipulation? There are subtle clues; a posture that you use when asking for something, pouting, sighing, and exaggerating the problem. Other people scheme and calculate the best time to ask for something; when someone is going out the door, running late, or asking announcing a change in plans when it is too late to correct the situation.

Manipulating others also means that we run the risk of alienating and destroying relationships. Is the payoff worth the cost?

I once had a roommate who was insecure in her looks, although she was attractive. We had made plans to meet for dinner at a very casual restaurant and I wore clothes to work that day that would be appropriate there. My roommate called me to tell me that she had changed plans and we would be meeting at another restaurant, upscale where I was underdressed and felt somewhat uncomfortable.

When I asked her about it years later when we were both in recovery, she said she knew that it was wrong, but that she was insecure and thought that if I were underdressed and she was appropriately dressed that she would look better than me. We laugh about it now, as there are not as many rules on dressing as there were twenty-five years ago.

Although our friendship survived manipulation, use and grew into a healthy camaraderie in recovery, there are people in both our lives that we discontinued a relationship with due to their manipulation. So how do you spot the manipulation in others?

Preferred Methods of Manipulation

Several methods tend to work:

Getting people to feel sorry for you
• Crying
• Lying
• Splitting people to gain an unfair advantage in friendships and relationships
• Pouting
• Anger


You may not frame your request with the please, please, please of a child; however, you may just keep asking until someone gives in and lets you have your way. Another approach is to get angry; people often give in to unreasonable demands since they do not like anger. It is just easier somtimes to acquiesce than to be around someone that is angry.

Public Displays of Manipulation

I have contributed to animal shelters and send a donation for children in crisis, so it is not that I am insensitive to the plight of strays and homeless children, however, we are often manipulated into doing good deeds by whoever the spokesperson is for the cause.

It Is All in the Approach

“You are a manipulator. I like to think of myself more as an outcome engineer.” ― J.R. Ward, Lover Eternal. Whether you acknowledge manipulation or you like the outcome engineer label, see if you can spot how many times you have manipulated in similar situations:

Feel Sorry for Me

When someone confronts you regarding your conduct, behaviors or using, you play the victim. This one suggests that others should feel sorry for you due to your lack of education, family, money, other resources or something that is missing.

This is the one I refer to as the Selectively Stupid Card; when you play it, you act as though you cannot think; that you are just too dumb or stupid to do whatever it is, yet in anything else, you are an intelligent person. What generally happens is the conversation shifts to the fact that you are not dumb.

When you manipulate the conversation to focus on how you are not stupid or dumb, the other person is likely to get distracted and forget whatever they were confronting you about in the first place.

Sometimes it is a look - downtrodden, sighing as if overlooked, forgotten, ignored and neglected. However, it is usually done with an audience nearby so that they see how much they are ignoring you or responding favorably to your pouting.

Feel Sorry For Me Even If You Aren’t Confronting Me

“You had it made – an education, family, support in your recovery, a trust fund, a car, a whatever it is that they do not have that for some reason they think you should feel guilty for having.

The Placating and Nice Facades

Placating usually works in your favor, after all, you are agreeing with what someone is saying or asking of you. However, you are saying, “Anything you want” or “You are right” only to get the person to be quiet and drop the subject.

Wow, You Are So Competent and Then There’s little Ole Me

Buttering up or sucking up to people to get something from them later is another placating and manipulative agenda. You do not play this Ace- in- the-Hole card every time; however, in desperate moments you flatter people to get over on them.

I am Such a Nice Person; See How Concerned I Am

You talk about how much you care about something or someone, yet rarely if ever spend time with that person or demonstrate the care and concern beyond talking about it. People can think though that you are kind, loving and thoughtful, when you are really doing it to manage their impression of you.

When all Else Fails, Manipulators Reframe, They Don’t Give Up

When any one of the tactics above does not work, a master manipulator will go to Plan B; they usually are skilled at several of these.

Guilt, hurt feelings and angry outbursts create discomfort in many people, so they will often do what is necessary to alleviate it; in the case of the manipulator, that might mean that people give in, letting you have your way to alleviate the feelings.

At What Price Did You Get What You Wanted?

When people realize how many times they were taken advantage of, or manipulated, they eventually start feeling resentment towards the person who took advantage of their generosity or their guilt. When they have experienced this enough, they often pull away from the person manipulating them.

Therefore, you are taking a chance each time that you will alienate the people you are manipulating. They will probably figure out that you could do what you claimed incapable of, or that you only used them, you did have resources for the problem. You tried to “make them feel badly” about your situations, life or needs. People eventually grow tired of bailing the same person out of their consequences and feel used or exploited. It is a form of betrayal; it is generally a dishonest request. In some cases, these individuals will leave your life, as they no longer feel any responsibility to help you.

This unfortunately sets up yet another form of manipulation if you choose to use it, now you can rightfully claim that people abandon you. However, nearly everyone sees through this manipulation eventually.

When you start believing in your own manipulation as an incompetent, underprivileged, inadequate individual, unfortunately to maintain the façade, you have to act like one all the time. This makes job promotions out of reach, people do not trust you, and the labels you have are all unflattering.

Own your Manipulation and Self-serving Motive

Each of us needs help at some point in our lives; however, framing your requests for help can either be manipulative or straightforward and honest. Rather than using any of the manipulative postures described, simply state your need and establish a repayment plan if it is a loan, or find an agreeable way to repay someone for helping you.

I needed to move and since it was a short distance, I contacted my repairperson, asked if he would trade out flyers for his business in exchange for using his truck and helpers. He was pleased to get the flyers and I got the service I needed. A working rule of thumb is to assess the percentage of self- serving motives in your actions. Fifty percent of this is for me; 50% is for them is a fair percentage.

Approaching people with an honest request means that you no longer wear the labels, are forthcoming in your requests, and will probably have less people deserting you in times when you actually do need the assistance of others. They are then helping with an honest request rather than a manipulative one. While changing the manipulation is work, the rewards are worth it.

How Can You Help People Change?

Each person has a unique perspective on personal life changes. Writing about your experiences may just be the encouragement that someone else needs to change. Consider writing on Wikinut to spread the word that change is possible.

For additional articles by Marilyn Davis on: Life Changes, Addiction, Recovery and General Writing Tips

Credits:
All images: Wikimedia Commons

Tags

Addiction And Manipulation, Early Recovery Lessons, Manipulating Others, Manipulation Costs, Recovery And Manipulation, Self-Defeating Behaviors, Self-Defeating Manipulation, Self-Serving Motives

Meet the author

author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
A Certified Addiction Recovery Empowerment Specialist, with 25 years of abstinence-based recovery. I write about addictions, recovery, life lessons and general writing tips.

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Comments

author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
27th Jul 2014 (#)

Good evening, Mark; thanks for working so late. I appreciate you moderating and the star. ~Marilyn

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author avatar snerfu
27th Jul 2014 (#)

Hello Ms Davis, Good to see you again and hear about empowerment. I always say -- Keep smiling and everything will be all right.

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
27th Jul 2014 (#)

Good morning, Snerfu; great attitude to have. Thanks for the comment. ~Marilyn

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author avatar Retired
27th Jul 2014 (#)

I recognize the manipulative tactics you talk about in most of my friends. What they don't know is such tactics don't work well on me. Interesting treatise on manipulation here, Marilyn.

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
27th Jul 2014 (#)

Good morning, LeRain; I gathered that from several of your articles. You do not strike me as someone who is unaware of self-defeating behaviors - the mahjong article I think? Anyway, observation stands. She smiles. ~Marilyn

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
27th Jul 2014 (#)

You really pinned them here Marilyn...great information..

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
27th Jul 2014 (#)

Good morning, Carolina; thanks. Having used some in my addiction, it is easy to spot in my recovery. Light to you, friend. ~Marilyn

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author avatar Mariah
27th Jul 2014 (#)

So well put across Marilyn, and very compatible with life situations in general... manipulation, the calling card of the self orientated as a substitute for dealing with the reality of the consequences of their own actions when they have no other hand to play.. transparent and shallow self preservation regardless of the cost to others, which is of course the desired effect such persons seek to inflict.. very well written and presented.

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
27th Jul 2014 (#)

Good morning, Mariah; wonderful synopsis of article and your comment adds to the description of manipulation. Thanks for that additional insight. Appreciated. ~Marilyn

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author avatar Retired
27th Jul 2014 (#)

Wonderful article! These are the types of people we all need to be aware of.

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
27th Jul 2014 (#)

Good morning, Carolford; yes we do, and they are found everywhere - no exaggeration on that one - family, friends, co-workers, government, media, etc. etc. Thanks for that reminder. ~Marilyn

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
28th Jul 2014 (#)

another facet...tyranny of the weak used to manipulate too...a clever tool indeed

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
28th Jul 2014 (#)

Good morning, Carolina; thanks for another perspective, a good example. ~Marilyn

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author avatar Retired
28th Jul 2014 (#)

Interesting and perceptive.

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
28th Jul 2014 (#)

Good afternoon, lavenderflu-Lyn; thank you for commenting. I appreciate it. ~Marilyn

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author avatar Retired
28th Jul 2014 (#)

Unfornately I recognized the signs of manipulation in my ex-husband as he used every one of them...sadly, he is still using them...even on our son...

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
28th Jul 2014 (#)

Good afternoon, Valerie, unfortunately, children are quite prone to manipulation. It is unfortunate that your ex uses these tactics. Thanks for commenting. ~Marilyn

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
29th Jul 2014 (#)

Yay! I can read articles again. It was getting kind of lonely!!
I have so much to say to this -- sending you a private email. HUGS!

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
29th Jul 2014 (#)

Good evening, Phyl, not being able to read articles was a problem for most of us. Annoying, but glad you could read and comment. Thanks, ~Marilyn

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
29th Jul 2014 (#)

And now I can't, again! But I sent you the email. With so many interruptions, it took me forever -- sorry!! And better yet, you DO NOT have to read it all!! )

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
29th Jul 2014 (#)

Good morning, Phyl; will respond by the end of the day. I have read it over morning coffee, in fact, two cups....not sarcastic, you know. ~Marilyn

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author avatar Fern Mc Costigan
30th Jul 2014 (#)

Awesome and interesting post, nice read and learn from your one of a kid work my dear Marilyn!

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
30th Jul 2014 (#)

Good morning, Fern; thank you for the kind words. Hope you are doing well. ~Marilyn

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author avatar Stella Mitchell
3rd Aug 2014 (#)

It is good to recognise the traits of manipulation not only in others , Marilyn, but also in ourselves ...and avoid them at all costs .
So, thank you for pointing out the pitfalls to look out for to keep us from being manipulated ...or from becoming a manipulator .
Many blessings
Stella ><

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
3rd Aug 2014 (#)

Good evening, Stella, I never have to look much farther than the mirror or within to find an example....what is that expression, we teach best what we know? Thanks for your comment, always good to hear from you. ~Marilyn

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author avatar Stella Mitchell
5th Aug 2014 (#)

Good morning , Marilyn.
It is always so much easier to see the faults of others and excuse them in ourselves .....but it is a wise person who recognizes that we too have clay feet at times ..and by acknowledging 'our not so pleasant ways ' we are best able to help others recognize their need of change ...for their own good .
God bless you for your very helpful teaching and your openness to admit your own needs ...This is what brings me back to read more of your work .
have a very blessed and peaceful week
Stella ><

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
5th Aug 2014 (#)

Good morning, Stella; I think I wrote it in another comment, but it bears repeating....I have great resources for the unhealthy behaviors - all I have to do is look in the mirror or within....in some ways that makes examples easier to come by....Thanks for the comment. ~Marilyn

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author avatar Margaret Michel
6th Aug 2014 (#)

Unfortunately, I've known too many people like this.

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
6th Aug 2014 (#)

Good morning, Margaret; sometimes the only benefit to having been manipulated is that it makes it easier for us to spot another manipulator before too much damage is done. Thanks for the comment. ~Marilyn

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