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Manipulative behavior: how to detect it in 6 keys

Manipulative behavior: how to detect it in 6 keys

January 22, 2021

Normally, when we talk about domination and power of some people over others, we refer to the use of force or economic power, used to bury opposites. Thus, we often overlook that the use of force is not the only way to violate the dignity of people to act according to someone's interests.

In this article we will talk about manipulative behavior ; how it is expressed in social relationships and how it can influence our actions without our realizing it, through unconscious or almost unconscious processes.

  • Related article: "The 8 types of manipulators: how does each one work?"

How to detect manipulative behavior

When it comes to recognizing the signs that manipulative behavior is present in a dialogue or social interaction in general, you can notice these characteristics .


1. The strategic use of blame

A common way to try to manipulate others is to bring up facts about which the other feels responsible and guilty, even if introducing this topic in the dialogue does not contribute too much beyond making the other is in a situation of vulnerability .

No one is perfect, and it is very possible that the manipulated person has real reasons to feel bad when remembering those actions he did in the past. However, it is one thing to ask for responsibility for it in a context in which doing so is constructive (for example, when asking for repairing the harm caused to others), and another is talking about it. only to be in a position of dominance in the dialogue and be in a position to demand from the other that it conform to what one wants it to do.


2. The projection of selfishness

Another habitual way of negatively influencing the other, typical of manipulative behavior, It consists of performing gaslighting , which is based on making the other person doubt their own criteria, so that it seems that they are not capable of sustaining their point of view.

There are many ways to do this; for example, making him believe that he has issued unfair criticisms against someone without this being true.

By its nature, gaslighting is difficult to detect the first. However, if such situations are repeated in which, according to the other person, there are reasons to think that we have become confused or confused on more than one occasion, and this does not happen in our social relationships with others, it is very possible that manipulative behavior is taking place .

  • Maybe you're interested: "Gaslighting: the most subtle emotional abuse"

3. Interpret silences at will

People with a tendency to manipulate others do everything possible to create a framework of interpretation of the facts in which ambiguities play in their favor.


For example, they can comment that if at some point in the course of a dialogue they are having with someone there is a silence that is somewhat longer than normal, that is a sign that the other person is hesitant. Although it is quite clear that this is not the case, simply doing this will already have given a precedent that contributes to that, even unconsciously, the other person adopts a more submissive attitude , one in which the possibility of maintaining a symmetric relationship with the other is renounced.

4. Put your foot on the door

Another of the clearest examples of manipulative behavior is to say half truths so that the other person is interested in something that would not have been interested in the case of having had all the information about it from the beginning.

In this way, you get the other of the first steps to act as the manipulative person wants, so that when you realize that this option is not as attractive as you expected, take a step back already has a cost higher than I had at the beginning. And it is that human beings tend to want to justify the sacrifices made, as the phenomenon known as cognitive dissonance shows .

  • Related article: "Cognitive dissonance: the theory that explains self-deception"

5. Use referents in an interested way

Another frequent way in which it is manipulated is to praise the virtues of another person that we should supposedly look like, even though the circumstances in which that referent lives or has lived are very different to ours.

For example, we can mention the case of billionaires who started from relative poverty, to try to make us work more, ignoring that if these people are famous it is among other things because luck made them exceptional cases.

This is done to damage one's self-esteem, while at the same time creating the need to get involved in the tasks that the manipulative person asks of us.

6. Appeal to a false consensus

Another of the manipulative behaviors is simply to assume that we will do what is asked of us, because apparently that is what everyone in our situation would do. In this way, a false social pressure makes us fit in the molds of what is expected of us.

What to do to not be manipulated?

Although each case is unique, you can follow these general tips to protect yourself from tampering attempts.

1. Rate the time

To decide whether or not to behave as you are asked, it must be clear that you need time to think about it. Make clear that the fact of trying to rush you is in fact a valid reason to deny you .

2. Ask for all the information you need

Since there is no rush, there is no reason why you can not ask for all the necessary information . Negative reactions to this are also a reason to respond with a "no" to what is proposed, and so you must communicate. It is the other person's job to make you understand the situation, it is not your fault if it is not clear to you. Assertiveness is key.

3. Do not tolerate disrespect

Nobody has the right to make us feel bad so that we act as they want. To be disrespectful is a red line that should not be crossed .

4. Ask for third opinions

This is a very undervalued possibility. Requesting the opinion of others is a very useful help.


How To Spot A Manipulator (January 2021).


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