It is generally our intention to communicate in the best way possible with those around us. Very few of us intentionally set out to manipulate people in any way. But when we want something really badly, or have our heart set on an outcome, we may find ourselves being manipulative without even realizing it. How can you figure out if you are doing this so that you can stop?
There is nothing wrong with giving gentle hints every now and then, when the situation calls for it. However, if you find yourself doing this often, instead of asking people outright for what you want, you may be using manipulation.
For example, think of a situation like wanting your partner to turn down the television so you can read. Are you more likely to ask them in a straightforward manner, or do you start making noises of disgust and stomping around? If you choose to make someone feel guilty so you can change their behavior, rather than being honest and making the request, you may be using manipulation.
Using Your Mood
Do you find yourself “punishing” people when they don’t agree with you, or when you feel upset about something they do? Instead of owning your feelings and talking gently with them about it, do you treat them poorly or show them your worst attitude? This is a tactic of manipulation that is far too common, and it can destroy relationships and lives.
When you are upset with someone, it is almost always the best thing to be open and sharing your concerns before changing your body language, or worse, throwing the relationship away.
Too Many Compliments
Are the compliments you hand out sincere and honest? If you find yourself “buttering people up” and gushing over them at every turn, you may be manipulative. You may not be doing it intentionally or even have bad motives. Some people manipulate others subconsciously with too much praise, in order to try to make people like them. To the person on the other end of the flattery, this looks phony and contrived.
Using Guilt Trips
This is another horrible manipulation tactic that we can do without even realizing it. Some people use guilt trips on others because it’s how their parents controlled them when they were young. Others have learned through trial and error that it is the easiest way to obtain the reins in their relationships. Whatever the case may be, if your words make someone comply with your requests out of guilt… your guilt trips may be the culprit.
We’ve all told some form of a lie at some point in our lives. Some seem small, and others have much higher stakes. If you find yourself purposely misleading others, this is a form of manipulation. It could be that you are pretending you forgot a conversation that makes you sound bad, or you may be outright lying about circumstances in order to stay in control in a relationship. Either way, it’s not taking your relationship in a good direction and you would be wise to come clean and make a choice to be honest.
Manipulation is a dishonest way to try to control your relationships and the people in your life. If you are doing it without realizing it, the first step of change is in identifying it in your behavior and amending your behavior, which will bring health to your relationships in the future.
If any of the above situations remind you of the way you treat others, you may be using manipulation.