Manipulation is one way to get what we want. However, when that mode of communication is our go-to style, we begin to turn people off. Turned off people are not easy to reach.
Direct communication without being abrupt or pushy is more effective, especially over a long haul, while manipulation may seem to work only as a short term tactic.
Before we get into that, let’s go over five traits manipulative people share:
No respect for boundaries. Personal boundaries help us preserve our dignity and self-respect. Manipulative people do not seem to understand what personal boundaries are. They move freely and without permission in other people’s space. They say whatever comes to their mind and do whatever they can to get what they want.
Their lack of understanding of personal boundaries includes physical proximity. They get too close for comfort.
The insight switch is off. I think of insight as a light that shines and illuminates the darker corners of the mind and problems. For manipulators, this light is off, which reflects on their lack of self-awareness. They are simply not aware of themselves and their actions. They do not question themselves or their motives. Nor do they evaluate the result of their actions. Without insight, self-awareness, and action evaluation, they move in the dark. they never really look at their behavior and question how they engage others
Victim consciousness. When a manipulator fails, it is never their fault. They understand blame without understanding self-responsibility. And yet, it is easy for them to hold others responsible for anything that goes wrong.
Flexible Truth. It is hard for them to tell the whole truth. They often may not even see it. They can only see what benefits them and share that as the entire truth. When faced with facts, they resort to anger or subversion.
Big on guilt. Manipulative people use guilt as a weapon. In their communication, they attempt to force their way by making others feel guilty for having a contrary opinion. They make people feel bad about themselves and their work.
Do you recognize these traits in others? Do you see yourself using them?
If you do, especially in yourself, you are on the right track to effective communication to build healthy, productive, and joyful relationships.
So, how can we get what we want without manipulation?
Stop passive-aggressive actions. Deception and fear are the base of passive-aggressive behavior designed to satisfy a need or fulfill a demand. A direct and honest approach is based on courage and respect. The courage to be who you are and respect for the other person to say no.
Just the facts. Facts do not convince anyone or change an emotional state. To expect facts to control behavior is naive. However, facts can provide a stable foundation to express feelings honestly and reach people genuinely. Healthy relationships are forged when we are genuine.
No Blame Game. Pointing fingers force people to defend themselves even when they are guilty. Imagine how they feel when they are not. Hurt feelings and closed hearts cannot allow truth or requests to enter the mind. Self-accountability is that it makes you responsible for being understood and not the other person to understand.
Practice Reciprocity. Creativity and interest in the other person help find solutions that meet not only our desires but the other person as well. While manipulation is designed to get us what we want, reciprocity gets us what we want as well as getting them what they want. The result is a strong relationship and easier future dealings.
Universal human needs. What you want, what you fear, what makes you angry, what makes you happy is likely to have the same effect on others. Remembering this and acting on it places you and the person you are communicating with on an equal footing, which is a great starting point for communication. It is hard to communicate with people who we believe they are above us or below us.
Communication is like a muscle that needs correct exercise without continuous attention to improve over time. Just like an unfamiliar exercise if you enter communication from a manipulative background, expect to do some work to build the long-lasting direct and practical communication skills that do not include manipulation.