Most of us have been manipulated at some point in our lives. It may have come from someone we love or someone we need something from. We may have been manipulated by a friend or a social group. It is possible to have been manipulated by our employers, customers or our vendors. How are they doing this to us? What can we do to identify when we are being manipulated, and how can we stop it?
Here are 5 ways you allow yourself to be manipulated.
Someone you love or respect asks you to do something that you find completely unreasonable. They insist that you should do it because they believe you should. Then, when they see that their request is going nowhere or that you need extra motivation, they turn on the guilt. If it’s a parental figure, they may say that they are only asking you for a small favor after caring for you their entire lives. A friend may quip that this is nothing compared to the favor they did for you last month. A love relation may state that as a partner, you should just do these things without having to be convinced.
All of these messages have an underlying tinge of shame within them. They are basically saying, “you should be ashamed of yourself for not wanting to do this for me.” So, in an effort to not feel bad, or have them look at you in a less than favorable light, we do the very thing we did not want to do. Whenever someone is trying to guilt you into doing something, they are not loving you in that moment. This isn’t to say they don’t love you. It is to say that they are using your love of them against you so that you either do what they say or feel bad for not doing so.
To avoid the guilt trip, you have to know that your proof of loving them does not reside in doing this act. Your love of them resides in your heart, regardless of what you decide to do in this one instance. Once you are secure enough in your knowledge of your love, decide what you want to do. Do it, or don’t do it, but be guilt free either way.
2. Fear of Loss
When someone asks you, or tells you, to do something or else they will take something away, that is the fear of loss at work. It might be the employer that asks you to “stretch the truth”, and when you hesitate, they casually mention how tight the bonus pool will be this year. It’s the lover who threatens you with a lack of intimacy that evening. It’s the social group that pulls back your inclusion because you aren’t “one of them” unless you participate or do as they ask.
Let’s call this what it is. These are blatant threats. If you don’t do what someone else asks you to do, you will lose. You find yourself especially troubled when you are asked to do something that compromises your morals, values or sense of what’s right.
In these situations, you must lean on your spirituality. Remember that the world operates on a principle of abundance and not scarcity. If you decide to stand up for yourself and your personal belief system, know that other opportunities will come if the loss is real. If you choose to do what’s being asked of you, then do so for reasons that you are comfortable with. Just remember that compromising your morals will leave you with an even bigger loss than anything someone else can take away from you.
3. Manipulation Disguised As Influence
Manipulation is rooted in a win/lose relationship. The person with the request wins and you lose. Your loss could be time, love, money, respect, opportunity, satisfaction, etc. Their win will be in these very same categories. However, influence is rooted in a win/win relationship. The person with the request has factored in how you can win and how they can win. There is balance, sensibility and practicality with influence. There is imbalance and irrationality with manipulation.
Usually, influence is being disguised as Fear of Loss or a Promise of Pleasure that is not really there or not equal to what the other gains. When you receive this proposal, remember that you can and should negotiate the terms of the agreement until they are more favorable for both of you. After all, the other person approached you with an arrangement that is supposed to be beneficial to both of you. You have the right to negotiate that. If you cannot reach a deal, you also have the right to walk away from it.
Be careful here though. If you choose to say no, the other person may try to use guilt to persuade you to do this thing with nothing in return for you. You’d be surprised how many people will take that deal instead. Don’t be one of them. Turn it right back around and let them know that they came to you with a proposal that was supposed to be win/win. Walk away with a win/win proposal or be prepared to say no to the whole thing.
4. Trust Without Verification
Contracts probably evolved out of this scenario. This is where someone promises you something in exchange for your favor, products or services and then doesn’t deliver after you fulfill your promise. This comes about when we trust someone without verifying that they have the means, track record, or true desire to fulfill their end of the bargain. They tell you everything you want to hear to motivate you towards action, and then leave you high and dry after they get what they want.
This situation happens everyday between families, associates, handshake deals between business partners, and situations where you need the backing of a big business that has all of the resources. In non-business deals, ask the other person to take measurable action steps towards what they’ve promised you as you do the same towards what you promised them. That way, you don’t complete all of the work and have nothing to show for it. Instead, you complete 10% of the work and can see if you are receiving 10% of the benefit. Then, you move on to the next major milestone percentage (25% for example). If this is a business deal, sign a contract. The best-case scenario is to have a lawyer either write or review the contract before signing. A large company may unfairly only give you hours or days to “make up your mind or the deal is off the table.” That type of language should serve as a red flag that you are being manipulated into signing an agreement that is something other than what was promised to you. Ask for the time you need to properly review the contract. If money for a lawyer is an issue, find a Pre-Paid Legal company that is right for you. Often, you can have access to legal services like reviewing contracts for less than $20/month.
The bottom line is that you can trust, but verify. Ensure that your end of the deal is coming before fully delivering your end, or cement the agreement in a written and signed contract. If you don’t, you’ll find yourself angry and manipulated.
Has anyone ever said that you weren’t the best if you didn’t do a certain thing? How about the threat of being considered not good enough if you didn’t do what they asked? Both are plays on your pride. They are either setting you up with the reward of being considered the best and the threat of everyone knowing you were not good enough at the same time.
“You know, Joe was able to lift that couch by himself when he helped me move in. Are you saying he’s stronger than you?” “Stacy was able to baby sit my 3 kids and they had a great time with her. If you don’t think YOU can do it, that’s ok.” “Gloria sold $150,000 in business last month. I guess she’s just better than you are if you can’t at least match what she did.” I think you get the point on how it is presented to you. Here’s the problem. Your need to be the best is rooted in insecurity. You need other people to validate your worth. It is because of this that others can so easily manipulate you into doing major things and all you get in return is the title of being the best. You think this is win/win, but who really wins?
Set goals, and then pursue them. Don’t stop until you reach them. Know your self worth internally. Don’t let anyone else’s judgment of what you can and can’t do mean more to you than your own. Remember that any recognition you seek outside of yourself is giving control of your self-esteem to someone else. Another person’s success can serve as a marker, but you should never stake your self-esteem on doing what they did. Keep you ego in check, AND accomplish what you set out to do because it’s what makes sense for you. Don’t do it to grandstand, show boat or declare that you are the best. There will always be someone better coming along.
James LeGrand is the publisher of SpiritualIndividual.com, a free weekly newsletter that presents solutions to life’s issues through the lens of self-help, wisdom, philosophy and spirituality. He is the author of an Amazon.com best seller in Religion and Spirituality titled "Evolve!", and an Expert Author with SelfGrowth.com & EzineArticles.com. James LeGrand is a Life Strategist, Radio Personality, a Fortune 500 Vice President, and a Sifu in Shaolin Kungfu, which has been known for centuries as a pathway to spiritual enlightenment.