Emotional Manipulation: Warning Signs and How to Stop It

Posted on - in Culture & Communication

Emotional manipulation drains its victims in insidious ways. You could know someone who suffers from emotional manipulation and not recognize it. Knowing the warning signs of emotional manipulation in others or yourself is the first step to stopping this dangerous process.

What Is Manipulation?

Manipulating someone’s emotions is not the same as convincing or influencing that person. A manipulator uses personal goals to subtly coerce the victim into doing something he or she’d normally not do. It’s exploitation without regard for the victim’s feelings, and it can cause long-lasting mental and emotional damage.

What Are the Signs?

Because it’s difficult to identify when someone is manipulating you, it’s also hard to see when that happens to others. Look for signs of manipulation such as someone doing something they wouldn’t normally consent to. He or she could be a victim of having their emotions played with.

Manipulators typically have several personality traits that make it difficult to identify them as perpetrators. Often, they will put themselves at the center of the conversation and play the victim, making everyone around them feel guilty for not helping them. People who excel at manipulation know exactly which buttons to push to goad someone into action. The victim may feel guilty for not agreeing to go along with the manipulator’s plans.

How Are People Manipulated Emotionally?

Guilt is a powerful emotion, and manipulators use it to get their victims to do what they desire. Victims usually have low self-worth or feel good about themselves when helping others. By acting as victims that are harmed by people not helping them, manipulators use these personality traits against the victims. It’s possible to overcome manipulation, but it will require introspection from the victims.

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How to Overcome Manipulation

If you suffer from someone manipulating you, there are some things to do to make you more resistant. The United Nations outlined 30 natural rights all humans have, among those are the right not to be subjected to degrading treatment and the freedom of thought. Manipulators violate these rights. Knowing this is a good first step to recognizing that someone is taking advantage of you.

Identifying the manipulator will help you stay wary of their motivations and actions. If possible, distance yourself from the person emotionally. If it’s a colleague at work, stick to work-related discussions only. And don’t accept tasks outside your job description. In some instances, you may need to physically separate yourself from the manipulator if emotional distance does not stop their actions.

How to Help Someone

If you know someone who is manipulated and doesn’t recognize it, there are some things you can do to help. Though you may feel anger over your loved one getting taken advantage of, control your anger. Use your anger to drive you to action instead of shouting at the manipulator.

Help the victim recognize that he or she is getting manipulated. Recognizing the manipulator’s influence will help the victim avoid future problems and stand up the perpetrator. Talk to the victim to decide if confronting or separating from the manipulator is better. Help the victim realize that saying no is the best answer to the requests of a manipulator.

How to Stop a Manipulator

Stopping a manipulator in your life is more difficult than avoiding becoming a victim. You may not change the manipulator’s personalities or habits of coersion, but you can discourage a manipulator from acting on you. Standing up to the manipulator and refusing to let yourself become a victim can at least stop the person from trying to affect your behavior. If it’s a work colleague who is especially problematic, you may need to talk to HR.

Manipulators are everywhere. They will emotionally drain their victims by getting them to do what they don’t want to. Start with recognizing the warning signs of manipulation and learn to stop the manipulator in your life or the life of a loved one. With these steps, it is possible to get these toxic people out of your life.

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Kayla Matthews writes Productivity Theory and is constantly seeking to provide new tips and hacks to keep you motivated and inspired! You can also find her on Huffington Post and Tiny Buddha, and follow her on Google+ and Twitter to stay up to date on her latest productivity posts!

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