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can define manipulation as "getting
people to do what you want without giving them
something they value in return".
does manipulation work? When someone says to
you, "If you don't help me clean my house
I'm going to be mad at you," that person
is attempting to manipulate you. He is not
offering you anything except to withhold a
display of bad temper, which he could do in
any case. But if the same friend says,
"If you'll help me clean my house, I'll
take you to the baseball game this
afternoon," and your friend knows you
love baseball, that is not attempted
manipulation because you are being offered
something you value in exchange for your
if we tell someone, "I'll be very
disappointed if you don't come to my
party," we're trying to manipulate her by
indicating she will be responsible for the
state of our emotions, a highly dubious
"privilege" at best. On the other
hand, suppose we say, "If you come to my
party, I'll introduce you to the famous
producer you want to meet." If the person
we're talking with is an aspiring actress and
the famous producer actually is coming to the
party, then we are non-manipulatively offering
her something she desires in exchange for what
do people seek to manipulate us? For reasons
ranging from the meanest to the most
people, because they are so dissatisfied
with themselves and their lives, try to
create problems for us so we will feel bad,
too. If they are able to make us unhappy or
uncomfortable they can
focus on our pain instead of their own and
momentarily feel better.
who consider themselves weak and believe
they lack power sometimes try to manufacture
it by persuading people to do as they wish.
When they are successful, they experience a
temporary feeling of domination.
Unfortunately for them and those with whom
they associate, the sensation dissipates
quickly, and they must continually reinforce
individuals believe they are so unimportant
that others are unlikely to give them what
they want simply for the asking. To make up
for their lack of bargaining chips, they try
to convince us we should feel guilty or
ashamed if we do not do as they ask,
thinking (often correctly) that our desire
to avoid those painful feelings will be so
great that we'll do what they want.
profoundly misguided people tend to regard
us more as servants than as equals. Because
of the lowly status they've assigned us,
they expect us to do tasks they're averse to
doing themselves, whether because of their
ignorance, reluctance, laziness, or an
unwillingness to clean up after themselves.
people believe themselves incapable of
achieving their goals directly, as mature
adults do, so they feel they have no choice
but to manipulate us so we will achieve
their goals for them.
idea is embraced by fanatics of every kind,
who have deluded themselves into believing
they know what's best or right for
practically everyone. Since they are certain
they are gifted with a special insight, they
feel gratified if they can manipulate
"less knowledgeable" people like
us into taking the path they've chosen.
fact, most would-be manipulators are not
genuinely bad; they are just weak,
self-centered, insensitive, inconsiderate, and
misguided. They think of those they seek to
manipulate as members of a lower order of
creature, a less important form of life, whose
needs and desires are also less important. To
manipulators, other people are less
"real" than they are, somewhat like
a clever puppy or a beast of burden, which is
to say, a nice enough creature, but one
without a real existence of its own.
FORMS OF MANIPULATION
techniques vary, but in general, manipulators
try to get our emotions to work against us.
They do this by saying or doing something they
hope will induce in us guilt, shame, anger,
fear, or some other uncomfortable emotion.
They may imply, for instance, that our failure
to do as they wish will bring about a major
disaster. They may describe in minute detail
the various kinds of unpleasantness that will
occur if we neglect to take the action they
suggest. They may insist certain things are
our duty or responsibility, or they may appeal
to us on the basis of morality, ethics, or
anything else they think might persuade us to
agree with them. Some will pull out every
emotional stop and tell us of the horrible
pain they'll experience if we "let them
down". We may be told we'll feel better
about ourselves, that we'll make the
manipulator extremely happy, that he or she
will love us forever, or any number of other
essentially meaningless terms.
speech is frequently laced with phrases such
should. . ." "You ought to . .
." "If I were you, I'd . .
." "It's for the best," "I
only want what's best for you,"
"You'll thank me for this later,"
"What will people say?" "What
will people think?"
use these and many other phrases which imply
we will suffer a censure or penalty of some
kind if we don't meet the
"obligation" they've chosen for us.
element do all these techniques have in
common? The manipulator offers us nothing we
value in exchange for doing what he or she
on the next page:
* The "Benefits" of Manipulation;
* Avoiding Manipulation;
* Important Ideas to Consider;
* Questions to Ask Yourself;
* An Experiment
article is excerpted from
Wising Up: How To Stop Making Such A Mess of Your Life, © 1999, by
Jerry Minchinton. Reprinted with permission of the publisher, Arnford House,
Vanzant, MO, USA.
Info/Order this book.
More books by this author.
About The Author
Minchinton has read extensively about self-esteem, motivation, and Eastern
philosophies and religions. He combines the insight he's gained from these
studies with practical business experience to shed light on some age-old
problems of human behavior. He is the author of
Maximum Self-Esteem: The Handbook For Reclaiming Your Sense of Self-Worth,
52 Things You Can Do To Raise Your Self-Esteem. He can be reached at
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