I recently read a fascinating book about the psychology of manipulation and was struck by how common these tactics are in our daily lives, both at home and at work. The book shed light on how people use different tactics to manipulate others for their own gain, and I felt compelled to share some of the insights that I gained from it with all of you on my blog.
Understanding the psychology of manipulation is essential in today’s world. It can help you avoid falling prey to it and recognize when others are trying to manipulate you. Manipulation can take many forms, from subtle and covert to outright and obvious, and it can cause significant harm to our mental health, well-being, and relationships. Therefore, in this blog post, I would like to share with everyone the different types of manipulation that I learned from the book.
Gaslighting is a manipulative tactic in which a person makes someone else doubt their own reality, memory, or perceptions. It’s a form of psychological abuse that often leaves the victim questioning their own sanity. It is a severe form of psychological abuse that can have long-lasting effects on a person’s mental health and well-being. It is often used by people who want to maintain power and control over others.
- John consistently invalidates his partner’s emotions or experiences and then denies having done so, causing her to question her own reality.
- John blames his partner for the problems in the relationship and denies any responsibility, making her feel like she’s the one at fault.
To deal with gaslighting: One way to combat gaslighting is to keep a journal or record of events, so you have a written account of what happened. You can also talk to trusted friends or family members who can help validate your feelings. Most importantly, walk away from this kind of person.
Victimhood is when a person portrays themselves as the victim in every situation, even when they are responsible for their own problems. They use this tactic to manipulate others into feeling guilty or responsible for them and doing what they want.
- John consistently portrays himself as the victim and accuses his partner of being insensitive or neglectful, even when she has done nothing wrong.
- The friend who constantly portrays themselves as the victim of circumstances and blames others for their mistakes, even when they are at fault.
To deal with victimhood: Recognize it for what it is: a tactic designed to make the manipulator appear sympathetic and the victim appear guilty. Keep your focus on the facts and the evidence, and don’t allow the manipulator to shift the blame onto you. Don’t feel guilty for something you didn’t do.
A guilt trip is a tactic used to make the victim feel guilty or ashamed, even when they have done nothing wrong. The manipulator may use guilt to get their way or to manipulate the victim into doing something they don’t want to do.
- John consistently makes his partner feel guilty for spending time with friends or pursuing her hobbies or interests, even when it is perfectly reasonable to do so.
- A boss uses guilt to pressure an employee into working overtime or taking on more responsibilities than their job requires, even when the employee has other commitments.
- A parent may guilt-trip their child into visiting them, even when the child has other plans.
To deal with guilt trips: The key to dealing with guilt trips is to recognize them as manipulative tactics. Don’t allow the manipulator to make you feel guilty or ashamed for something that is not your fault. Be assertive and stand your ground. Explain why you cannot comply with the request and offer an alternative solution that works for both parties.
Pretend ignorance is a tactic used to avoid taking responsibility for one’s actions or to make the victim feel like they are the ones at fault. The manipulator may act like they don’t understand what the victim is talking about, or they may feign confusion or forgetfulness.
- John forgets an important anniversary or event, but instead of apologizing, he acts like he doesn’t remember it at all. He may say things like “I don’t know what you’re talking about” or “You never told me about that.” This can make his partner feel like she’s overreacting or being unreasonable, causing her to doubt her own memory and perception of the situation.
- A manipulative coworker may pretend they don’t remember promising to complete a task in order to avoid responsibility.
To deal with pretend ignorance: If someone is pretending to be ignorant or forgetful, it’s important to remain calm and clear in your communication. Be specific and provide evidence or documentation to support your claims. Don’t allow the manipulator to shift the blame onto you.
Negative humor is a manipulative tactic in which a person uses sarcasm or mockery to make others feel bad about themselves or their ideas. They use this tactic to undermine others and boost their own egos.
- John habitually makes fun of or belittles his partner’s hobbies or interests, which makes his partner feel inferior or less worthy. John’s behavior may be an attempt to exert power and control over her and to make her feel like her interests or hobbies are not valuable or important.
- A friend mocks another friend’s outfit, making them feel self-conscious, under the guise of joking around.
To deal with Negative humor: It’s important to call out the person’s behavior and let them know that it’s not acceptable. Surround yourself with positive and supportive people who lift you up instead of bringing you down. Standing up for yourself and refusing to engage in negative humor can help deter future attempts at negative humor.
Projection is a manipulative tactic in which a person projects their own feelings, thoughts, or behaviors onto someone else. The manipulator may accuse the victim of being selfish, dishonest, or untrustworthy, when in reality, it is the manipulator who is exhibiting these behaviors. They use this tactic to avoid taking responsibility for their own actions or to make others feel bad.
- John is cheating on his partner, but instead of admitting his infidelity, he accuses her of being unfaithful. He tells her that she’s always working late, that she’s hiding her phone from him, and that she’s distant. He accuses her of cheating on him, even though she’s been faithful.
- A coworker accuses another coworker of stealing from the company when, in fact, it is the accuser who has been stealing. The accuser may plant evidence to make it look like the other coworker is guilty, when in fact they are the ones who are committing the theft.
To deal with projection: If someone is projecting their negative behaviors or feelings onto you, don’t become defensive or argumentative, as this may only escalate the situation. Instead, calmly point out the facts and evidence, and let the manipulator know that you will not tolerate being falsely accused.
Constant criticism is a manipulative tactic in which a person constantly criticizes others, their ideas, or their work, in order to make themselves feel superior or to make the other person feel inferior and to chip away at their self-esteem. The manipulator may criticize the victim’s appearance, abilities, or choices in order to make them feel like they are not good enough.
- John constantly criticizes his partner’s cooking, cleaning, or appearance, even when they put in the effort to improve.
- A manipulative parent may constantly criticize their child’s appearance or academic performance, even when the child is doing well.
To deal with constant criticism: It’s important to recognize constant criticism for what it is: a form of emotional abuse. Don’t allow the manipulator to make you feel bad about yourself. Instead, focus on your strengths and accomplishments, and surround yourself with people who support and uplift you.
In conclusion, understanding the tactics of manipulation is crucial in protecting ourselves from potential schemes and recognizing when others may be attempting to manipulate us. I can speak from personal experience when I say that being gaslighted and manipulated in a past relationship caused me to develop severe anxiety and even led to panic attacks. The emotional abuse took a significant toll on my mental health, and it took me a long time to recover, even after the relationship ended. The effects still linger with me today, even years later. That’s why it’s essential to set clear boundaries, communicate openly, seek support when needed, and focus on our own strengths and self-worth. By doing so, we can protect ourselves and maintain healthy relationships with others.
Take care! X, Hani. ❤