“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?