There are a lot of manipulative people out there, but you don't have to let all of them push you around. It's time for the tables to turn.
No problem. These seven steps will help you identify, dismantle, and destroy a manipulative personality for good.
Manipulators are everywhere. Although psychologists estimate that only 4% of the population is truly sociopathological, in the entire United States that's about 12 million Americans. Not to mention, if you're in a career that attracts manipulators (think law, media, and sales), then there's a damn good chance you know a sociopath or two.
Manipulators usually exhibit the following traits.
- They like you.
- They claim they have something in common with you.
- They say you can trust them.
- They display subtle hints that they're lying (unless they're really good).
- They use insults to get you to engage. "I don't know if you could keep up with the conversation."
- They give unsolicited promises. "I swear I'll stop bothering you in a second."
- They rarely want your company just for the sake of it.
That's just a few of the things to look out for, but it's enough to help you identify the majority of manipulators in your life.
Your emotion is the fuel that keeps a manipulator running. Without it, they have nothing to work with and they stall. Here are a few ways to interact unemotionally:
- Only say what is necessary. No fillers, no fluff.
- Detach yourself from the conversation. You are not the subject.
- Imagine yourself outside of your own body. You're observing two humans interacting.
- Avoid using "I" and "we." For example, "This conversation has run its course. It's time to go."
- Remember that ultimately you will die, the sun will explode, and everything will cease to exist. Seriously, this helps.
It can be tough to resist talking about yourself, and a manipulator knows that. So when they ask you a question, be as short as possible and then ask them a personal question. Ask them how they feel about something.
"I'm fine. You look kind of pale. Everything alright? Have you been feeling okay?"
This is like throwing a wrench in their machine. Manipulators do not expect to talk about their emotions. They expect you to open up and become vulnerable. When you ask a manipulator personal questions, you will quickly see how reluctant they are to share personal information with you unless it can be used to ask for something from you.
Much like narcissists, most manipulators don't take well to criticism. They're appealing and charming, and in their eyes, anyone who sees otherwise is not a good victim. Casually point out little flaws that you find in their presentation and laugh about it.
"Sorry to interrupt, but have you ever noticed that you have a slight lisp when you say that. Say it again. Thpecimen. Specimen."
Manipulators are bullies. They're used to taking an "alpha" role and they're thrown off track when someone points out a belittling flaw. Doing this to them with courage and a sense of humor will alter their perception of you. It shows them that you can't be walked over and you'll bite back.
Never talk about your feelings. The only thing you should talk about with a manipulator, if you must, is the weather, celebrity gossip, sports, and politics (apathetically).
No matter the topic, they will try to pull your strings. They'll say, "It is very cloudy. Cloudy days are depressing, you know what I mean?" And you'll say, "Clouds look like giant cotton balls!"
Manipulators aren't entertained by small talk. They have nothing to gain from it. To them, there is no sense in "shooting the shit" with a group of friends for the sake of it.
Sociopaths are stunted in a developmental stage that most of us grew out of as toddlers. They don't understand the concept of "no." To them, it's just another obstacle they have to work around. With enough "noes," even the most persistent sociopath will recognize futility and give up.
A manipulator wants you for something. So if you have to give it to them, give them the crappiest version of it available. Let them down. They'll gladly move on to someone more valuable.
And that's all there is to it. Obviously, if you're dealing with a master manipulator, they will be able to rebound fairly quickly and one-up you for the win, but most of these sociopaths won't see it coming.