Are we all manipulators?
When we say, “It’s cold in here,” or “My shoes are all worn out,” we may just be aware of our condition. But those who hear it often suspect us of manipulation. Who’s right, how do we figure it out?
We study manipulation to defend ourselves against it, but sometimes – usually unexpectedly! – we hear similar accusations ourselves.
“My mother immediately replied:” No money, “and I just said that a friend of my father bought for the prom with real model shoes,” – talks about his offense 17-year-old Anfisa. It’s not hard to guess: The mother thought her daughter was implying that other parents are willing to splurge on their children and it would be nice to follow their example. Did Anfisa really mean something like that? She herself thinks not: “Of course, I envy a little, but I know our financial situation and I would not even ask.
And 58-year-old Anna complains that her daughter-in-law dislikes her: “Believes that I interfere with their family life, because my son takes care of my health and often comes to see me. I have a weak heart, and he himself tells me to call if I feel bad. My daughter-in-law suggests calling an ambulance in such cases. “But why waste doctors when they are full of serious patients, and my son will sit with me, and I will be released,” – objects Anna.
Manipulation is difficult to recognize, because at its very core is deception. And we can deceive the other as well as ourselves, and not always conscious of it. But before we dive into the depths of the unconscious, let’s deal with what lies on the surface. What are manipulations?
They can be useful.
The word itself goes back to the Latin “manus” – “hand” – and means purposeful action. Everyone is familiar with the expression “medical manipulation”: these are activities designed to provide assistance. Naturally, it implies that the person performing the manipulation knows and can do more than the patient.
This connotation of meaning persists also when it comes to psychological manipulation: the manipulator knows more than the object of his influence, but no longer because of his professional competence, but because he is hiding something. As a result, the second participant of such interaction is deprived of some information, which puts him at a disadvantage.
“The essence of manipulative behavior is hidden control of the other and the achievement of their own goals,” explains Gestalt therapist Andrei Ralko. – It is a position in relation to the other as an object and not as a person.”
Nevertheless, psychological manipulation can also be “environmentally friendly” – if they do not cause damage, according to family psychologist Elena Ulitova, “When a parent collects a child in kindergarten, telling him a story so he does not be capricious, the parent manages the child’s behavior without his knowledge. This manipulation makes life easier for both of them. Telling a story is more useful than explaining, ‘Mommy’s in a hurry to work, so let’s hurry up and get ready’ – the child is not yet old enough to show understanding and sympathy for the overworked mother.”
Personnel management techniques are widely used in business, which include competitions, corporate events, and cooperative games. The purpose of these events is not to entertain employees (it is only a means), but to increase productivity or quality of service. This is also manipulation, and quite successful, and regardless of whether the participants understand its purpose. Calls for conscientiousness – “you have to work hard so that the business owner makes more profit” – would be more honest, but hardly effective.
Everyone is capable of doing it.
Everyone is capable of manipulation, and everyone knows how to do it-we learn in our earliest childhood. When an infant cries, the mother rushes to him, trying to figure out what is wrong and how to fix it. This is not manipulation: the infant has no other way of communicating her distress and calling for help yet.
But when a three-year-old cries in a store, demanding to buy him a toy, it is an attempt at manipulation. The toy is desirable, but not vital, and the child can ask for it. But he already knows that the answer to the request may be rejection, and tears – especially if the mother, father or grandparents cannot bear them – will help him get what he wants more likely.
There is nothing dangerous in this: none of the children want to upset a parent, let alone wish him or her harm. It’s just that the child is new to the world and is still learning how to communicate with his or her environment, testing different ways to get his or her way.
Sometimes we grow up with a poor understanding of what we need and how to get what we want without resorting to manipulation.
If a parent listens to the child, understands his needs and tells him what’s going on with him (“you really like this toy and you want it to be yours”) and how things are (“I’ll buy it for you when I can, and today we only came for groceries, so I’ll buy you juice”), and shows his trust and sympathy for the child non-verbally (smiling rather than frowning, talking affectionately rather than yelling) the child will gradually learn to understand himself and the world. He will accept rejection calmly, feeling that “no” about the toy does not mean rejection of love.
But this is not always the case, and sometimes we grow up with a poor understanding of what we want, a toy or love, and how to get what we want without resorting to manipulation.
“The first year after we got married, my wife would get colds all the time and demand that I babysit her,” Demian, 28, says. – I would get annoyed because I didn’t see the mild cough as anything serious. We argued, then she broke her arm, we argued, and a week later she broke the same arm a second time. That’s when I decided it was time to do something, so I talked her into couples therapy. After a while I realized what it was all about: she needed to make sure that I was there for her and would take care of her.
As a child, her parents didn’t have time to take an interest in her affairs while she was healthy, but as soon as she coughed, her mother, who worked as a doctor, began to pay more attention to her. “When I heard her story, it dawned on me why all my attempts to convince her that there was nothing wrong with her were in vain, it only scared her,” Demian continued. – Now, when she gets sick, I ask her how to show her love: a hug or run to the pharmacy, or both at once? She laughs. And sick became much less.
Life in society is impossible without manipulation?
That’s right! – Vladimir Tolochek, Doctor of Psychological Sciences, is convinced:
“We as a species have dominated the planet because we have found many ways of organizing ourselves socially: we have created laws and customs, conventions, rules, declarations, understandings and other formal and informal structures. Much of this “social asset” is not even recognized by us, but it works nonetheless.
A rare child will actively argue with an adult, a specialist with the head of the company, a sergeant with a general. In all our interactions with others, we act on our social position, our biological energy, our acute needs. For example, when we say “deeply respected,” we are not only (and not so much) expressing boundless respect for the interlocutor, but calling on him to follow professional ethics, to maintain a distant psychological distance “you – you. Or when a man begins to court a woman, he does everything that is customary in that culture: he takes care of his appearance, his clothes, his manner of speaking, he gives gifts and shows attention. All this is manipulation: he tries to arouse interest in himself, but he does not declare his goal openly. Or vice versa, when a woman seeks to attract a man’s attention: the neckline of a dress, the cut of a skirt, tight clothing, jewelry, makeup – elements of manipulation.
The only behavioral strategy in which there is no manipulation is “avoidance”. , the refusal of any interaction with the other. As for the other strategies, rivalry is the desire to directly suppress the other using real or perceived advantages in something or only the threat to use such advantages, and this is manipulation. Adaptation – the demonstration of benevolence, non-conflict even in situations of refusal of the necessary (but how long can we withstand such refusal?) – is also manipulation.
The ideal strategy is “cooperation” – winning for all participants in the situation. But the one of us who competently leads his partner to adopt his plan, which combines all the interests, thereby receives a moral dividend. And, most likely, he will use them more than once, and we will turn to him for advice more than once.
So what is manipulation, good or evil? Everything is determined by the ratio of ends to means. And much more clarifies the aphorism of Antoine de Saint-Exupery: “We are responsible for those we have tamed. The problem is rather a different one – how to determine the measure of acceptable influence on the other? This is a matter of personal culture, maturity and responsibility.
A Pyrrhic victory
We resort to manipulation most often in cases where we are afraid of rejection, afraid that we will not be able to survive it. And when we ourselves are not well aware of our own needs. “Manipulation always includes the moment of obtaining additional benefits at the expense of another,” emphasizes Elena Ulitova. – And it does not mean that we pretend or deceive.
Illness can be real, but when we encourage another to do what we are able to do for ourselves, it is manipulation.” The sick person cannot go to the pharmacy by himself, but not everyone needs to be babysat all night long. In the latter case, it is not about the actions necessary to restore health, but a way to make sure that we are loved, that we are willing to make sacrifices for us.
By manipulating, we try to create a situation in which the possibility of rejection is minimized. In order to do this, we instill guilt, fear, and insecurity in the other person so that he or she is easier to control. Example: “If you don’t listen when I tell you to put your hat on, then you don’t love your mother / don’t respect your father.”
A son to whom his mother will say, “Come visit me twice a week, because it pleases me,” might say no. But when it comes to a heart condition, it’s much harder to refuse! True, it is likely even in this case, the mother is not fully satisfied, and someone else will certainly be unhappy: the son’s family will begin to break up, his wife will protest.
By manipulating, we try to become happier at the expense of the other, but our efforts lead to the fact that everyone (including us) becomes unhappier. “If relationships are built only in this way, the manipulator can only win once again,” explains Andrei Ralko, “to ‘make’ the other, but not to share something good together with him. He may get satisfaction and pleasure from winning, but he won’t get trust in the long run and won’t be able to experience the joy of a close relationship.”
30 Characteristics of a Manipulator
Why do people become manipulators? How do you recognize them among your interlocutors? The characteristics of manipulators listed in the article will help you learn more about such people.
Manipulators can choose different masks depending on the situation. And so it becomes even more difficult to recognize manipulators. However, as soon as you start behaving in a way that is not what you intended, he immediately changes his behavior! He becomes angry, persistent and ironic. Remarks and reproaches to his address he does not perceive.
How to recognize people-manipulators to help the following basic characteristics of people-manipulators.
Every manipulator knows: it is much easier to manipulate a person if he considers himself an unworthy lowlife, and you – an honest and noble sage. Fritz Morgen
The basic characteristics of manipulators
There are basic criteria of manipulators, through which you can understand whether the person in front of you is a manipulator or an ordinary person. And the more overlap with the person, it indicates a greater likelihood of manipulation!
- Blaming other people (whether family, professional, friends, etc.).
- Tries to make the people around him/her responsible, but will absolve himself/herself of all responsibility and commitment.
- Will never be straightforward about their feelings, thoughts, demands.
- Virtually always answers various questions “vaguely.
- Depending on the situation and the opponent, can change his or her behavior, feelings, and opinions very quickly.
- Tries to hide his or her needs.
- Forces other people to act immediately on all his or her demands and requests.
- Tries to put your qualities and competence in question. Uses condemnation, criticism, humiliation, etc.
- Sends direct messages through other people. For example, the manipulator may send a message or phone call to the person instead of saying it in person.
- Tries to turn the people around him against each other, even if there was a good relationship between them before.
- If necessary, he may artificially cause various negative manifestations, i.e. he becomes a victim (he may exaggerate an illness, complain about overload at his work, etc.).
- Absolutely does not comply with your requests (though he may even say that he will do them, but that is where it ends).
- Likes to manipulate your morals to achieve his needs.
- Openly blackmails or covertly threatens you.
- Manipulators very often change the topic of conversation, and abruptly.
- Tries to avoid various negotiations, discussions.
- If the manipulator sees that you’re poorly versed in a topic, he begins to talk about this very topic, showing his superiority in something.
- Lies to you.
- First, the manipulator says a knowingly false statement in order to learn the truth, after which he changes the truth.
- Both spouse and parent can be very jealous.
- The person does not like criticism of himself, he tries to deny obvious things.
- Does not pay attention to the desires and needs of other people.
- At some point begins to sharply demand something from you, force you to do something.
- Speech and statements can be logical, but his life is completely illogical!
- In order to please the new person, he begins to give all sorts of gifts, treats.
- When he communicates with a person, the interlocutor feels that he is trapped!
- He can achieve his own goals, but at the same time other people suffer some damage.
- The manipulator forces his victim to act in a way that he would not do of his own free will.
- The manipulator is an object of discussion even when he himself is not around.
It is worth noting, however, that in order to accurately recognize that you are facing a manipulator, he must have at least 14 matches on this list.
Are all people manipulators?
Many people, after reading this list, may think that all people are manipulators…
Naturally, most people may exhibit some form of manipulative traits in their lives. But that doesn’t say at all that the person in front of you is a manipulator. A very important difference between an ordinary person – he has similar reactions that occur from time to time, while a manipulator has it absolutely always!
But do not jump to conclusions. You or your friends may have some of the traits on this list, but that doesn’t mean it’s manipulative. The thing is, people (you included) like to exaggerate the basic elements on this list, and try to appear worse than they are.
A manipulator hiding under the mask of a friend can be just as dangerous as an open enemy. Rensom Riggs. Library of Souls. Charon
If you want to know if you yourself are a manipulator, you can ask a relative to evaluate you and your behavior “from the outside” and give the bottom line.
A manipulator is a person who behaves differently than everyone else. The whole point is that many people at times can produce some manipulation in relation to some people, but in relation to other people they behave quite normally.
For example, parents may manipulate their children when they are still in school. But as soon as the child grows up, a reasonable parent stops manipulating their child, and gives them a chance to act on their own.
Naturally, there are manipulators “by nature,” and it is natural for them to manipulate other people. For some people, manipulation is a transient behavior.
Manipulators primarily want to humiliate their opponent in order to achieve some of their personal goals. Besides, a manipulator on his own, without people, simply cannot exist!
The manipulator has absolutely no respect for people! All demands and rights are secondary to the manipulator. And if you start talking to the manipulator about something, he will start saying the exact opposite point of view. This is because he wants to create a visible image that you will begin to believe in. The manipulator needs the people around him the same way a drowning person needs a life jacket! When a person is drowning, they know that they are about to go under and they urgently need help from the outside. If a person is approached by a lifeguard, he will lean on them, trying to drown himself, but at the same time he has only one thought – to save himself!
It is the same with manipulators. Thanks to other people he tries to get out of the water alive. He can only exist if he leans on other people’s heads.
The manipulator is willing to create various illusions and convince the people around him (and himself) that he is an excellent person!
The manipulator is waiting for you to accept that he is a smarter, more competent, better mannered, more generous person than you are! There are many such descriptions to be cited.
But how does the manipulator operate in this way? He first of all experiments on you, he finds your weaknesses, takes a closer look. For example, the manipulator may begin to reproach you for your own mistakes. This effect is well known to psychologists. However, for a person who has no experience in this plan, the whole mechanism is absolutely not obvious.
That is, you may think that since you are being accused of something, it means that the person himself has no such problem!
Why do people become manipulators?
It’s worth remembering that just reading books on how to become a manipulator, it is impossible to become one. In fact, the process most often starts in childhood.
A person has a special structure of the psyche, and therefore he is more prone to manipulation than other people.
For example, a shy person does not want to connect with real people and communication, and wants to remain always on the sidelines.
The manipulator has a kind of defense mechanism that he uses as a means of survival. It all happens on an automatic level. And this mechanism allows the person to communicate with people in some way.
Are we surrounded by manipulators?
Through analysis it has been found that there are not many manipulators in life. In fact, since childhood, a person is in close contact with 200-300 people, and of this number of manipulators can be counted on the fingers.
However, this small number of manipulators can cause serious problems for everyone!
And the fact that there aren’t that many manipulators doesn’t make them any less dangerous. The whole point is that manipulators can hide in many different areas and spheres of life (home, work, etc.).
Naturally, manipulators try to hide the fact that they are manipulators. And only with time and experience can you identify manipulators more effectively. That is, the more you identify manipulators in your life, the easier it will be for you to identify them in the future.
In addition, manipulators can be both men and women equally, so it is quite difficult to draw any conclusions in this regard.
If you have not yet met manipulators in your life, then most likely after some time you will definitely meet a manipulator and feel the effects of manipulation “on your own skin”.
Does the manipulator understand that he is manipulating people?
Recent studies have found that manipulators overwhelmingly act unconsciously. And only about 20% of manipulators are aware of the fact that they are manipulating.
However, manipulators’ life principles are quite perverse. They take immediate pleasure in having immoral behavior and a negative impact on the people around them.
Most manipulators, on the other hand, are partially aware of the fact that they are influencing others, but they themselves cannot understand how it happens. But when they achieve some success, they are happy about it.
But the fact is that it is impossible to study these problems accurately. For example, most manipulators will refuse to recognize (or at least not pretend to recognize) themselves, but they can easily find the same signs in other people.
In addition, the manipulator may take comfort in the fact that he thinks everyone is a manipulator, so it is okay to keep acting that way. That is, the manipulator believes that since everyone acts this way, they are not harming the people around them per se.
The vast majority of manipulators will never tell others directly that they are manipulators, but that’s no surprise!
Manipulators and Ethics
Quite often manipulators hide behind their own profession, which makes them very difficult to spot. After all, most people will see that logically the person is respected, has a high position, he has devoted a large amount of time to his work, etc.
For example, a manipulator may work as a specialist in the field of drugs, but he may also be involved in the drug trade. It is very difficult to detect such a person among other people; in most cases, no one will even look at such a person.
Another example: a priest can be a pedophile. This is also a very unusual case, which almost no one suspected.
Some manipulators assert certain truths and postulates. In principle, no one would think of doubting a professor, doctor, psychologist, or priest. In some ways this is a good thing, but manipulators hide with it!
Often manipulators have a respected profession and abuse their own power, and at first glance it is impossible to think anything bad about him. It takes some time to confirm your suspicions of this person. Therefore, you must be vigilant and remember that a person with a respectable profession does not always have to earn the respect of those around them.
For example, if the manipulator has a high rank or rank, but is incompetent, this creates cause for concern. Some manipulators use all kinds of deception and intrigue.
But then how do manipulators who are incompetent manage to advance in their careers? They do so because of other people. That is, colleagues or secretaries correct a manager’s significant mistakes before everyone knows about it. After all, it’s all in people’s best interest. First of all, they maintain the image of the company in which they work, and in doing so they protect themselves from the reproaches of their manager, which will follow immediately after any mistake made!
Such a person transfers all his mistakes onto his subordinates. And his personal image remains as pure as it was. Such a person always tries to make the people around him feel guilty.
Nonverbal behavior of manipulators
Nonverbal communication includes facial expressions, behavior, gestures, tone of voice, etc. The main criteria for nonverbal behavior of any manipulator are:
1. The gaze of the manipulator is commanding or fluent.
However, this depends solely on the circumstances and the mask he has chosen. A confident person, on the contrary, wants to establish visual contact with the interlocutor about 60% of the time of the conversation. A self-confident person will never stare at one point for long or avoid the gaze of the interlocutor.
2. The manipulator uses ‘aversive listening’.
That is, when you say something, he or she looks away, or does something else entirely. For example, such a person does not even turn his head in your direction when you appear. Such perception is considered a manifestation of aggression. A person feels from such communication embarrassment, shyness, etc. The person you are talking to may think that what they are saying does not interest the manipulator, which throws the person off balance. Some normal people may use this kind of “aversive listening” when they are communicating with another person while watching television. Naturally, the person they are talking to still feels uncomfortable talking to such a person. After all, the interlocutor wants you, as the recipient of information, to show that you are listening carefully. It is very important that the person is looking at the interlocutor when communicating and that eye contact is established.
Most people behave this way at times. For example, you may be talking to your friend, but at the same time looking at incoming emails, etc. But for manipulators, this behavior is fundamental. By doing so, he wants to show that the other person’s opinion cannot be important.
3. A manipulator’s voice can either be too loud or too quiet!
Consequently, in a large group of people only the manipulator can be heard. He laughs very loudly. The manipulator speaks only himself, and does not let others get a word in, but he likes to interrupt.
If the manipulator uses a quiet voice, he wants to appear sick, insecure, weak, etc.
A self-assured person, on the other hand, speaks loudly, but not louder than other people, he can easily change his volume from the volume of the people around him. And the manipulator changes the dynamics of his voice depending on what impression he wants to make on his victims.
4. Manipulators’ gestures do not match the gestures of others
When in public, the manipulator tries to be either inconspicuous or imposing.
For example, at the beginning of a conversation, the manipulator may choose a relaxed posture, after which people will assume that everyone is allowed to behave in the same way. However, most ordinary people do not behave in this way, especially if they are in an unfamiliar and alien environment.
5. Gestures of manipulators are very diverse.
- If desired, a manipulator may portray gestures of security, he may have a firm handshake that is accompanied by an intensified greeting, a smile.
- Manipulators may also use threatening (hostile gestures), such as pointing a finger at another person. The main purpose of such gestures is to frighten and intimidate the other person.
- Some manipulators may become anxious as they talk, and may try to suppress their anxiety with different gestures (biting their lips, covering their mouth, etc.).
6. Manipulator’s facial expressions are varied
First of all, the manipulator displays the facial expressions he wants to show. For example, he may be too smiling in some critical situations. There is a feeling that nothing can frighten or surprise such a person. That is, the manipulator creates an image of a person who can handle the most different situations without problems.
The manipulator tries to always take control of his feelings. If he experiences positive or negative feelings, he always tries to hide them so as not to expose his real feelings.
For example, if a manipulator has guests over, he can be talkative and smiling all evening, but as soon as they leave and close the door behind them, he immediately has a stern look on his face!
Updated: Mar 01, 2019, 01:01 Number of words: 2316 Time to read: 12 min. Print Thank you to the authors for this article, which has already been read 77,278 times! Thanks to our readers who haven’t left a single comment yet, but have already rated the article 74 times!