Usually when we talk about the domination and power of some people over others, we are referring to the use of force or economic power, used to bury opposites. Thus, we often overlook the fact that the use of force is not the only way to violate the dignity of people in order to act in someone’s interest.
In this article we will talk about manipulative behavior; how it expresses itself in social relationships and how it can influence our actions without our realizing it, through unconscious or almost unconscious processes.
How to detect manipulative behavior
When recognizing signs that manipulative behavior is present in a dialogue or social interaction in general, you can look at these features.
1. The strategic use of guilt
A common way of trying to manipulate others is to bring up facts for which the other feels responsible and guilty, even if the introduction of that topic into the dialogue doesn’t go far beyond what the other is doing. other in a vulnerable situation.
No one is perfect, and it is very possible that the manipulated person has real reasons to feel bad about remembering those actions that they have performed in the past. However, it is one thing to demand responsibility for this in a context where doing so is constructive (for example, when asking to repair damage to others), and quite another to talk about it. just to stay in a dominant position in the dialogue and be ready to require the other to adapt to what we want him to do.
2. The projection of selfishness
Another common way of negatively influencing the other, typical of manipulative behavior, consists in carrying out gas lighting, Which is based on making the other person doubt their own judgment, so that it seems that they are not able to support their point of view.
There are many ways to do this; for example, making him believe that he has made unfair criticisms of someone without it being true.
By its nature, gas lighting is difficult to detect at first. However, if these types of situations are repeated in which, according to the other person, there is reason to believe that we have been confused or confused on more than one occasion, and this does not happen in our social relationships with others, it is very possible that manipulative behavior will occur.
3. Interpret silences at will
People who tend to manipulate others do their best to create a framework for interpreting facts in which ambiguities work in their favor.
For example, they may comment that if at some point during a dialogue they are having with someone there is a silence that is slightly longer than normal, it is a sign that the other is hesitant. or shy. While it is quite clear that this is not the case, the mere act of doing so will have already set a precedent which contributes to the fact that, even unconsciously, the other person adopts a slightly more submissive attitude, One in which the possibility of maintaining a symmetrical relationship with the other is removed.
4. Put your foot on the door
Another of the most obvious signs of manipulative behavior is telling half-truths to get the other person to be interested in something so that they aren’t interested in having had all the information they need. this topic from the beginning.
In this way, the other of the first steps is taken to act as the manipulator wants, so that when he realizes that this option is not as attractive as he expected, stepping back has already a higher cost. first. And it is that human beings tend to want to justify the sacrifices made, as shown by the phenomenon known as cognitive dissonance.
5. Use referrals in an interested way
Another common way it is manipulated is to praise the virtues of another person who we are meant to be like, although the circumstances in which this referent lives or has lived are very different to ours.
For example, we can cite the case of billionaires who started out from relative poverty, to try to make us work harder, ignoring that if these people are famous it is partly because luck has made the case. exceptional.
This is done to undermine self-esteem, while creating the need to get involved in the tasks that the manipulator asks of us.
6. Call for a false consensus
Another manipulative behavior is simply taking for granted that we will do what we are asked to do, because apparently that’s what everyone in our situation would do. In this way, false social pressure puts us in the molds of what is expected of us.
What to do so as not to be manipulated?
Although each case is unique, you can follow these general tips to protect yourself from attempted manipulation.
1. Time value
In deciding whether or not you should behave as you are asked, it should be clear that you need time to think it over. Explain clearly that trying to hurry is actually a valid reason to refuse.
2. Ask for all the information you need
Since there is no rush, there is no reason why you cannot request all the necessary information. Negative reactions to this are also a reason to answer with a “no” to what is offered to you, and therefore you must communicate it. It’s the other person’s job to make the situation clear to you, it’s not your fault that it’s not clear to you. Assertiveness is the key.
3. Don’t tolerate disrespect
No one has the right to make us feel bad because we do what they want. Disrespect is a red line not to be crossed.
4. Request a third opinion
This is a very underestimated possibility. Asking for the opinions of others is a very useful help.