It happens every day. A trigger word gets you going, or stops you in your tracks. You don’t know exactly how a civil conversation got derailed, but before you know it you are at odds with the person on the other side of the fence. Sales tactics aren’t just for car lots and timeshares. Chances are you’ve experienced manipulative tactics in your own home. Be it your spouse or children, a friend or family member; you may not have even recognized this manipulation as it was happening. But by the end of this article, you’ll be able to spot attempted manipulation by lovers, friends, foes and professionals a mile away.
When all words are fighting words, and there seems to be an electric charge or emotional jab coming from all sides at lightning speed, you’re being targeted for manipulation. This word warrior is using keywords and triggers to pen you into an emotional “sale.” This sale could be of anything, even refusal of something. The point is, if your spouse, children or friend tries to rope you in with digs, cut the cord and don’t get taken. The insults they throw at you may be obvious or encased in a neutral or complimentary statement. But don’t be fooled. He or she is trying to use fear to corral an emotional response from you.
If everything your partner or child says has an air of criticism, they are also throwing jabs at you, but for no particular agenda; other than to make you feel bad. When another tries to instill insecurity in you, and make you question your decisions or purpose, they are seeking a long arm form of control over you. They just like to see you sweat. Don’t let them turn up the heat.
Sometimes the people you love have a bone to pick and decide it must be yours. They may say or do things with precise intention to harm or insult you but do so without clearly directing the jab at you. Embarrassment or judgment may be their tool of choice, but they won’t come right out and say a cross word directly to you. No doubt, you’ll feel it.
When your mate or kids try to make you responsible for their thoughts, feelings, words and actions, this can feel terribly discouraging. As a wife and mother, you want your brood to know you care for them and take their feelings very seriously. But it is important for you and every distraught mother to know there must be a line drawn between what you can control and fix in the lives of your family, and what is out of your hands. It is vital to show your children and husband compassion, care and empathy throughout your lives together. Make sure they know if they look to you to take responsibility for what only they can control, everyone will suffer.
Guilt trippers pretend like they’re not asking for a lot, but what they want is above and beyond anything they’ve offered you. If your spouse, kids or friends try to use this manipulation technique on you, they will try to make you seem like a selfish or bad person if you don’t do what they want. They’ll say things like, “If you loved me you would.” Or “I’ve helped you and taken care of you so much, you owe me at least this.”
Someone who has an agenda to push has a goal of their own that they will try to use you to accomplish. Beware of a loved one who really plays up how something they want will benefit you. They are trying to convince you something is good for you when it is really good for them.
A deal maker coerces you into an agreement by offering you a favor. The problem is that they offer help, so you are indebted to them. And they will collect their payment, somehow. Your partner, child or friend may say something like, “If you do this, I will do that.” Or “How about I take care of this now, and we can talk about the rest later.”
Part of my gift is being able to recognize manipulation and “sales” tactics easily. This is partially because of my business and sales training at University of Miami. I apply it in my spiritual and emotional teachings regularly. In fact, I am a salesperson’s worst nightmare. But an invaluable asset to my friends whom I help recognize and counter shady exchanges.
Manipulation is not always obvious, or even malicious. Your family may have a vested interest in seeing you down a specific path they feel is best. The issue is this may not be the path you prefer.
Now that you can see manipulation for what it is, how will you deal with it? Or better yet, how can you get it to cease and desist?
Be honest about the way you feel. Trust your gut. If it’s telling you something is fishy it probably is. Question the motives of your friends and family if you feel they are trying a little too hard, or digging a little too deep. Remember to take responsibility for the way you feel, and keep the focus on building genuine communication with the ones you care about.