Latest Wow: Ripe for Manipulation


“I don’t like to confront, so I’m easy to manipulate.”

That “WOW” came from a mid-fortyish male client. He didn’t realize it, but he nailed a common human problem. Many of us don’t like to confront.

Why are we so squeamish about confronting someone … even when it’s appropriate?

There’s a wide variety of reasons. A major one is the fear of setting off a fireworks display or, to put it bluntly, the fear of making someone mad.

And the problem with that is:

If we’re afraid of upsetting others, we give them power.

Not everyone will elect to use that power, but others won’t hesitate to take full advantage. They’ll use anger or the threat of anger to control you. They don’t want to hear what you have to say.

Angry responses stifle us, and that’s exactly what the manipulator counts on.

We see this form of manipulation among couples, among friends, at the workplace, and between parent and child. Sometimes we witness parents being manipulated by their angry child or the other way around. It happens.

I say our purpose in life doesn’t include sticking pacifiers in the mouths of those who might get upset.

The solution? Let them be upset. For example, if a child throws a fit because he doesn’t get his way, you let him throw the fit, right? Versus giving in. This advice applies to adults, too. Remain unaffected.

If we don’t care about someone’s angry reaction, manipulation isn’t possible. If a confrontation is done respectfully, it needs to be said. Pure and simple.

To avoid being manipulated by someone’s angry flare-ups, we have to be willing to brave the storm instead of trying to prevent it. Doing so is far less costly to our dignity than mindlessly appeasing. And besides, once we do it, we realize the storm was far less scary and draining than sacrificing the truth of our being.

It’s our fear that sets us up. Just like a dog cowering in the presence of a cat … guess what message he’s sending? Guess what position the cat is likely to take?


Filed under Couples, General Interest, Get Free, Parenting, The Latest Wow!

19 responses to “Latest Wow: Ripe for Manipulation

  1. Rachel

    Oftentimes, we aren’t true to ourselves. We are worthy of defending our own truth and taking care of ourselves!

  2. Rachel

    I also like how you say, “they don’t want to hear what we have to say.” That is so true!

    • Music to my ears. It takes a long time to wake up to that fact. It’s so natural to believe we somehow caused someone’s reluctance to listen to us. We so easily go to “What’s the matter with me?”

      • Rachel

        Exactly! It’s so easy to take it personal when in reality it has nothing to do with us. Once heard someone say and I think you referenced to a dog, that a person who gets nasty at us really is like a scared dog barking. they are afraid at what’s going on inside their own head.

  3. Todd

    These are very good points. I would add that while standing up to them, keep your calm and do not let them drag you to their level, because they will just get louder or madder. Stay calm and they’ll lose some of that power and will inevitably move closer to your level.

  4. Kb

    Our imaginations can get the best of us. I always try to think it is never quite like you play it in your head, because no matter how well we may think we know someone , we can never truthfully know what they will say.

  5. I have found it takes a lot of practice not to get hooked in the emotional response. I had an encounter recently where I watched as the person run through everything that used to work to manipulate me. I looked at the person without emotion. The response was anger which got more intense. I told him at one point he was being a bully and started laughing. We both laughed for a little bit then it was on to the next technique. He ended up going to bed at 6 pm quite frustrated. I am learning not to respond. It takes lots of patience!!!

  6. Rachel

    You’re right! Standing up for what we believe, is less costly to our dignity. We suffer in return. It’s a new found freedom to tell others what they need to hear, soar baby soar! Here’s a song that fits well with this topic:

  7. rich quintano

    This is very interesting and thought provoking. Most of my life and most of the time I have chosen to avoid creating conflict or to “upset” someone else. This has been true for people I know well in addition to people I don’t know well. I have always reserved the right to speak out in matters that in my opinion required it but it has been later in life when I have learned the lesson you speak of. By allowing others to silence me I have given them unwarranted power over me and over circumstances. I am glad to have learned and to be learning that this choice of response does not, in the end, help anyone.

  8. stylejen

    This really hit home for me. I’m a pleaser. I’m a peacemaker. I grew up wanting to put out any “fires” BEFORE they were ignited. Still, as an adult, I occasionally fight the tendency to pacify rather than confront. It’s been a hard lesson but definitely one worth learning.

  9. Marty

    I’ve found that the manipulator only gets worse if he or she gets what s/he wants by bullying others. So not only do we hurt ourselves by being “nice” and giving in to the control, we also pass the buck because now the bully has proof that such tactics are successful. Now everyone else has to be on guard against being manipulated! A friend used to ask bullies, “Who died and made you God?” It stopped them in their tracks.

  10. Pingback: Dominated by Guilt | Salee Reese

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