It took me a really long time before I understood the different ways to recognize manipulation. I have always had difficult people in my life, and I'm sure you ladies have also. But I didn't understand that I was being manipulated. I just knew that I always seemed to walk away from those particular people feeling awful about myself and second guessing myself constantly. People manipulate in order to get what they want from others and there are many ways they can do this. This list is just a start in ways to recognize manipulation, and I'm sure a light bulb or two will go off for you as it did for me.
Believe it or not, flattery is a common technique that manipulators use. We all love to receive compliments if they are genuine, but have you noticed some people cross the line to flattery in your life? Flattery is a form of seduction and is used to get you to lower your defenses and surrender your trust and loyalty. If your weakness is attention, they will use flattery to their advantage when speaking to you. The flattery can range from praising your appearance and talent, or simply by affirming that you are valued and important. While these comments may be true, a manipulator doesn't necessarily believe them; they use them on everyone, making flattery one of the subtlest ways to recognize manipulation.
2 Emotional Blackmail
Blackmail is an obvious sign of manipulation. When someone blackmails you, they are overtly using fear to control you in order to make you do what they want. But what is emotional blackmail? Emotional blackmail is a technique used that makes you believe that if you do X, you are a great friend, daughter, girlfriend, etc. But if you do Y, you are unattractive, bad, dumb, etc.
3 Attacking Character
I once had someone I thought was a friend say I would be a horrible mother because my cat whined too much. This is an example of someone attacking your character. Manipulators will resort to just about anything to get what they want from you. At the time, this person wanted my pet out of my life and it wasn't until after the situation ended that I was able to recognize what happened. We all have weaknesses and strengths, this is what makes us human. But if you have someone in your life that attacks your character out of cruelty, this is a sign of manipulation.
4 Make You Uncomfortable
Have you ever been around someone that blurted out things (about you or others) just to change the emotional atmosphere? Maybe they say inappropriate things in general just to get a reaction, usually a negative one. If someone likes to make you and others feel uncomfortable just for fun, this is a sign of manipulation. While they may think they are being funny, they aren't. And you may find yourself caving in to do what they want just to get them to shut their mouth.
5 Not Straightforward
This is really close to lying but slightly different. An example of someone not being straightforward would be if they are moving a box and say, "this box is so heavy." This comment could get you to jump up and move it for them, which is what they wanted in the first place. But instead of saying, "Can you help me move this box?" they were not straightforward about it. The problem with this form of manipulation is that the person can get you to do multiple things for them throughout the day and you don't even realize it. It's a form of being passive-aggressive in order to control you. I've learned to recognize this and when I hear a person doing this, I will flip it into the actual question.
I've always heard lying and manipulation go hand in hand and that's because they usually do. Someone who manipulates isn't being honest in their approach, whether they realize it or not. So the very root of manipulation is lying. If you notice that someone in your life is lying to you, pay attention, ladies. I can't tell you how many times I have noticed a person lied to me and let it slide because it wasn't a "big" lie. Well, as the relationship continued, you better believe those little lies turned into bigger lies and I found myself dealing with a pathological liar who made me feel like I was the "crazy one." You won't win with a liar.
Ah yes, the blame game! Blame can manifest in many ways when you are dealing with manipulation, including denial, playing the victim and playing the servant. Have you dealt with someone who never wants to take credit for their part of the relationship? Maybe they are always the victim, allowing them to constantly blame others (including you). This is a form of manipulation because there is no accountability on their end and this can lead to you doing and saying things you normally wouldn't in a healthy relationship.
Seriously, guilt can feel like a prison. And really, it is, ladies! If someone constantly uses guilt-trips on you, that isn't fair. It doesn't have to be overtly done either. I remember one evening I decided to meet some friends at an outdoor music concert. I was dating this guy (not my husband) who was a casebook manipulator and I found that I wasn't able to enjoy the concert. He wasn't calling me to nag about anything, so on the surface it would seem I had no reason to feel this way. But my thoughts were totally on him and what would he eat for dinner, I hope he's okay, etc. One of my friends had to check me and say, "Lezlie, he's a grown man, he can find something to eat." While that was true, I was living in a state of guilt and not able to enjoy my night out with friends. This is a personal example of how guilt can be used to manipulate.
This example is really sad to me because we shouldn't be ashamed of who we are, ladies! But so often we are, because we believed someone's lies along the way that shamed us. Manipulators will often use shame to control you. An example of this is attacking a part of your body so you won't wear certain clothes. Another example is attacking your thoughts and opinions so you become afraid to speak. If there is someone in your life who does this, it's not a good sign.
I share these points with you out of love because I have had to deal with a few manipulators, unfortunately. The great news is that once you begin to recognize the signs, you can begin to take control back for yourself. Have you ever dealt with manipulation? I'd love to read your thoughts!