4 Ways To Deal With Manipulative People
You might think it would be fairly obvious if you are dealing with a manipulative person and being a victim of their manipulative tactics. That’s not always the case. For one thing, if they’re any good at it, you won’t know you’re being manipulated until you are well into a pattern of behavior with the person that is difficult to break.
Their strategies are hard to recognize because they are veiled as “caring for you” or “doing what’s in your best interest”. Don’t get conned into thinking they care about you or your interests. They may sound like they are, but manipulators are only worried about their own.
They will make just enough sense to make a person doubt their intuition that they’re being taken advantage of, manipulated or abused.
Manipulative behavior involves three factors (or variations of these factors): fear, obligation and guilt. The worst kind of manipulator will do anything to shake your confidence, make you feel stupid, uncertain, and second-guess yourself and your worth.
Here are 4 brilliant ways to deal with a toxic, manipulative person.
1. Remain calm.
A manipulator will usually try to dictate your emotions and tell you how you feel to get you to respond defensively with anger, fear or sadness, which plays right into their need for control. By not reacting to their antics, you will leave huge room for doubt about whether you have been affected as they intended. It gives you an upper hand over the whole situation. No matter how upset you may be, act like you have not been affected. Adopt a policy of keeping your lips sealed with a neutral face. Regardless of how many accusations they throw at you, refuse to engage. Say “I’m sorry you feel that way” and walk away.
If you’re in a situation with a true manipulator, your two goals for any confrontation should be to diffuse and exit, whether that means exiting the current conversation or exiting the relationship for good. Avoid insults, arguments, losing your temper, accusing the other person of manipulation, or getting overly emotional. When you speak, stick to statements that are truthful, objective, and peaceful.
2. Preserve your self-esteem.
One of the most unpleasant things a manipulative person can do is sabotage and wear down the self esteem and self-worth of another person. They do this in order to get control by any means necessary.
Grow and become aware of yourself. If you are emotionally strong, confident and know exactly who you are and what you want, your chances of falling victim to a manipulator’s tactics will lessen. The only way you can be hurt is when you allow them to get to you.
A person with low self esteem who feels worthless is far easier to influence and control than someone confident and happy. Manipulative people have a habit of gaslighting, which can lead you to question yourself and your perception of events. Someone who already doubts their opinions and worth will be easier to coerce into something that serves the manipulator’s own interests.
3. Don’t engage with them.
This can be extremely difficult to do, but your best bet in dealing with a manipulator is to ignore them as much as possible. A boxer can’t box unless someone gets in the ring with them. They want you to get in the ring so they can try to engage you in as much of a discussion, conflict or argument that they can. This is how they get the upper-hand.
If you do find that you have been ensnared in this web of conversation, don’t even bother trying to correct the person or convince them to see things your way. When you start engaging in this manner, they will likely try to confuse and frustrate you. Rather than responding, try to change the subject, claim you’re busy and need to leave, or simply walk away.
4. Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries.
Setting clear boundaries is not about controlling what another person does or does not do, but about controlling what you will allow in your life. Think of it as setting up a symbolic fence around yourself. For people to come into your fence and onto your property, they have to abide by certain rules. These rules are your boundaries.
A manipulative person doesn’t respect other people, even if they actually like or love them. To them, setting a healthy boundary is the same as you rejecting them so they will likely react poorly to your attempts to do this. Being prepared for this bad reaction is key to managing the situation. In order to protect yourself from being controlled and dominated by a manipulative person you need to spell out what your boundaries are. You then have to enforce your boundaries with consequences.
If you think you or someone you know is in a manipulative or even abusive relationship, experts suggest seeking treatment from a therapist or help from organizations like the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233.