Identifying Someone with a Controlling, Manipulative Personality
Dealing with someone who has a controlling, manipulative personality can drain, exhaust and wear down even the most emotionally stable among us. Often, those seeking to control us are narcissists and will stop at nothing to maintain their sense of superiority by breaking down the mental states of those they encounter by gaslighting, victim-blaming and deception.
Being able to spot and deal with such individuals is critical to one’s ongoing mental health, so learning how to spot a manipulator and deal with them is a crucial skill for survival in today’s world.
Getting rid of someone with a controlling, manipulative personality will impact your life in the best way possible. Here’s how you can recognize them and deal with someone who is emotionally and mentally draining.
Recognize How the Manipulator Has Impacted You
Maybe you were once an active participant in work activities, but lately, the thought of speaking up in a meeting fills you with anxiety. Perhaps you once had a vast network of friends and social acquaintances whom you’ve lost touch with. Maybe you once made decisions with ease but now find your chest tightening with an oncoming panic attack when faced with a tough choice.
These signs may indicate the presence of a manipulator in your life. Manipulators undermine their victim’s self-esteem by making them doubt themselves. They use techniques such as gaslighting to make you question your sense of reality.
Named after the 1940s movie in which a husband drives his wife insane by manipulating objects in the house, making her question her sanity, gaslighting makes the victim doubt whether they can even trust their perceptions.
If you suspect gaslighting, keep careful notes about your experiences. Once you have solid proof the manipulator is trying to gaslight you, you can make an educated choice on to whether to confront your manipulator.
Passive Aggression, Anyone?
Another technique manipulators use is passive aggression. Passive-aggressive people do things that they know drive you crazy or skip out on tasks that are their responsibility.
In a work situation, passive-aggression can take the form of a coworker taking sole credit for the completion of an important project when in reality it was a group effort.
It can also be that coworker who insists on wearing headache-inducing perfume despite your repeated requests that she turn her fragrance down due to your allergies. In relationships, it can mean neglecting household chores assigned to one partner, until the other partner gets fed up and ends up handling the work themselves.
The Silent Treatment Speaks Volumes
Nobody likes the silent treatment, and manipulators use this knowledge to their advantage. In the workplace, manipulators may use the silent treatment to avoid responding to your requests. They may demand that you email them about your progress but don’t reply to you, or they may refuse to answer your requests for help with an important project.
In personal relationships, this type of behavior can be even more damaging. One partner may wish to speak after a conflict calms down to iron out differences and move forward in a healthy way.
When the other partner refuses to engage, this leaves the partner confused, wondering if their partner even cares about them or about resolving their differences. The silent treatment can also act as a kind of guilt trip in relationships — you hurt me, but I refuse to allow you to apologize.
They Never Accept Blame
Manipulators rarely, if ever, accept guilt. According to these controlling personalities, if something goes wrong with a group project at work, it was the other team members’ fault. If sales are down, it must be because of the economy (even if it’s booming), not their lack of effort.
If the manipulator in a personal relationship cheats, instead of apologizing, they blame their partner for not being attentive enough to them. There is always a reason things aren’t the manipulator’s fault.
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But They Will Blame You for Everything
By refusing to accept the blame but instead assigning that blame to another person, manipulators gain a sense of power over that person. By making the other person feel as if it’s all their fault, they put the onus on the other to fix the problem.
They also assume a position of authority over the other to ensure that they get what they want. This also helps them avoid taking any responsibility for things that need fixing since manipulators hate having to do work.
Coping Skills: Know Your Rights
So how does one deal with a manipulator in their home or workplace? When quitting or divorce isn’t practical, the best coping skill to have when dealing with manipulators is to know your rights.
You as a human being have many fundamental rights. Among them are the ability to express your opinions without fear of ridicule, to be treated with respect in all interactions and to take care of your physical, mental and emotional health.
If someone disregards your rights, you also have every right to call them on it. A simple, “that’s disrespectful to me, and I will not tolerate such behavior,” can go a long way to letting a manipulator know you are not an easy or willing victim. Don’t be afraid to turn around and walk away if the abusive behavior continues.
Coping Skills: Learn How to Say No the Right Way
Another right you have is the right to say no. Learning how to do so firmly, while also respectfully, can make you feel much more powerful when dealing with manipulative individuals.
In the workplace, of course, this doesn’t mean saying no to reasonable requests from your boss. But if they’re asking you to stay late every evening without extra pay, you have every right to demand either more time to yourself or additional compensation.
In a relationship situation, this may mean learning to say no to your partner’s demands for sex, for example, when you’re tired and stressed. If they continue to demand what you have no desire to deliver, you’re justified in walking away.
Coping Skills: Don’t Normalize
Whatever you do, don’t make it seem as if your manipulator’s behavior is in any way reasonable. This accomplishes nothing except sending you down a slippery slope toward more and more controlling behavior.
Often, people will claim that any action which falls short of physical assault “isn’t that bad.” In truth, emotional abusive can leave longer-lasting scars than physical abuse. If you can do so safely, don’t be afraid to call a manipulator out if their behavior continues to escalate.
It’s never easy dealing with a manipulator, whether at home or in the workplace. But by keeping a strong sense of your own wonderful self, you learn whether you can peacefully find a way to coexist or whether walking away is your best option.
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