by Anita Anand
How do you tell if someone is a manipulator? Or if you yourself have manipulative tendencies? Simon identified the following manipulative techniques:
• Lying: It is hard to tell if somebody is lying at the time, although often the truth may be apparent later when it is too late. One way to minimise the chances of being lied to, is to understand that some personality types (particularly psychopaths) are experts at the art of lying and cheating, doing it frequently, and often in subtle ways.
• Lying by omission: This is a very subtle form of lying by withholding a significant amount of the truth. This technique is also used in propaganda.
• Denial: The manipulator refuses to admit that he or she has done something wrong.
• Rationalisation: An excuse made by the manipulator for inappropriate behaviour.
• Minimisation: This is a type of denial coupled with rationalisation. The manipulator asserts that his or her behaviour is not as harmful or irresponsible as someone else was suggesting – for example saying that a taunt or insult was only a joke.
• Selective inattention or selective attention: The manipulator refuses to pay attention to anything that may distract from his or her agenda, saying things like “I don't want to hear it.”
• Diversion: The manipulator not giving a straight answer to a straight question and instead being diversionary, steering the conversation onto another topic.
• Evasion: Similar to diversion but giving irrelevant, rambling, vague, and weak responses.
• Covert intimidation: The manipulator throwing the victim onto the defensive by using veiled (subtle, indirect, or implied) threats.
• Guilt tripping: A special kind of intimidation tactic. A manipulator suggests to the conscientious victim that he or she does not care enough, is too selfish or has it easy. This usually results in the victim feeling bad, keeping them in a self-doubting, anxious and submissive position.
• Shaming: The manipulator uses sarcasm and put-downs to increase fear and self-doubt in the victim. Manipulators use this tactic to make others feel unworthy and therefore defer to them. Shaming tactics can be very subtle such as a fierce look or glance, unpleasant tone of voice, rhetorical comments, and subtle sarcasm.
Manipulators can make one feel ashamed for even daring to challenge them. It is an effective way to foster a sense of inadequacy in the victim.
• Playing the victim role (“poor me”): The manipulator portrays himself or herself as a victim of circumstance or of someone else’s behavior in order to gain pity, sympathy or evoke compassion and thereby get something from another. Caring and conscientious people cannot stand to see anyone suffering and the manipulator often finds it easy to play on sympathy to get cooperation.
• Blaming the victim: More than any other, this tactic is a powerful means of putting the victim on the defensive while simultaneously masking the aggressive intent of the manipulator.
• Playing the servant role: Cloaking a self-serving agenda in guise of a service to a more noble cause. For example saying, he is acting in a certain way for ‘obedience’ and ‘service’ to God or a similar authority figure.
• Seduction: The manipulator uses charm, praise, flattery or overtly supports others, in order to get them to lower their defenses, and give their trust and loyalty to him or her.
• Projecting the blame (blaming others): The manipulator often finds scapegoats, in subtle, hard-to-detect ways.
• Pretending innocence: The manipulator tries to suggest that any harm done was unintentional or did not do something that they were accused of. The manipulator may put on a look of surprise or indignation. This tactic makes the victim question his or her own judgment, and possibly his own sanity.
• Pretending confusion: The manipulator tries to play dumb by pretending he or she does not know what you are talking about, or is confused about an important issue brought to his attention.
• Brandishing anger: The manipulator uses anger to brandish sufficient emotional intensity and rage to shock the victim into submission. The manipulator is not actually angry, he or she just puts on an act. He just wants what he wants and gets angry when denied.