Manipulators create and exploit vulnerabilities for personal advantage.
One manipulator bragged how she could cut people without them knowing it.
3 marks of manipulators:
#1. Want you to feel obliged or inadequate.
There’s a hint of sympathy in their tone when they say, “You think what?” Or, “You really believe that?”
Manipulators won’t tell you you’re stupid. They want you to tell yourself you’re stupid.
#2. Turn your strength into vulnerability.
Manipulators exploit compassion.
“But I thought you liked helping people. Now that I need your help, you’re turning me down.”
Feel free to insert words like reliable, responsible, dependable, or team player in the previous sentence.
Kindness, compassion, and helpfulness become vulnerabilities when you aren’t clear on boundaries or can’t say no.
#3. Want you to feel defensive.
You waste energy defending yourself against false accusations. For example, “But you said you were going to deliver this project yesterday,” when you didn’t make that commitment.
You can’t achieve your goals when you’re in a defensive posture.
Manipulators steal your power by putting you on your heels.
7 responses that defeat manipulators:
- Clarify the request when you start to feel manipulated. “What do you want? For yourself? For the team? For me?”
- “Is this a request or a demand? Will we still be friends if I say no?”
- Restate the request when it seems unreasonable. “Let me be sure I understand. You would like me to …. Is that correct?”
- “I see what’s in this for you. What’s in this for me?”
- Delay. “I’ll think about it.” If you aren’t quick on your feet, give yourself time to think.
- Say, “I don’t do that.” Don’t explain yourself. Every explanation is an opportunity for manipulation. If they ask for an explanation, repeat yourself. “Thanks for asking. But I just don’t do that.”
- Avoid them!
How might leaders spot manipulators?
What responses prevent exploitation?
Check out yesterday’s post: 3 Ways to Spot Manipulative Listeners.