Method Three of Three:
Dealing with a Manipulative Person
Know that it’s alright to say “no.” A person will continue to manipulate you as long as you allow him to. You need to say “no” to protect your well being. Look in the mirror and practice saying, “No, I cannot help you with that,” or, “No, that isn’t going to work for me.” You must stand up for yourself, and you deserve to be treated with respect.
You should not feel guilty about saying “no.” It is your right to do so.
You can politely say no. When a manipulator asks you to do something, try: “I’d love to, but I’m too busy in the upcoming months,” or, “Thanks for asking, but no.”
Set boundaries. The manipulator who finds everything unfair and falls to pieces, they are attempting to gain your sympathy in order to use it to further their own needs. In this case, the manipulator will rely on a sense of “helplessness” and will seek financial, emotional, or other forms of help from you. Look out for attitudes and comments like, “You are the only one I have,” and “I have no one else to talk to,” etc. You are not obligated or equipped to meet this person’s needs all of the time.
If the person says, “I have no one else to talk to,” try countering with concrete examples:
“Remember yesterday when Grace came over to talk to you all afternoon? And Sally’s said she’s more than happy to listen over the phone whenever you need a sounding board. I’m happy to talk to you for the next five minutes but after that, I have an appointment I cannot miss.”
Avoid blaming yourself. The manipulator will try to make you feel inadequate. Remember that you are being manipulated to feel bad about yourself, and you are not the problem. When you begin to feel bad about yourself, recognize what is happening and put your feelings in check.
Ask yourself, “Is the person treating me with respect?” “Does this person have reasonable requests and expectations of me?” “Is this a one-sided relationship?” “Do I feel good about myself in this relationship?”
If the answer to these questions is “no,” the manipulator is likely the problem in the relationship, not you.
Be assertive. Manipulators often twist and distort facts to make themselves appear more attractive. When responding to a fact distortion, seek clarification. Explain that this is not how you remembered the facts and that you’re curious to get a better understanding. Ask the person simple questions about when you both agreed to an issue, how they believed the approach was formed, etc. When you meet on common ground again, take this as the new starting point, not their distorted one. For example:
The person says, “You never back me up in those meetings; you’re only in it for your own gains and you’re always leaving me to the sharks.”
You respond with, “That’s not true. I believed that you were ready to talk to the investors about your own ideas. If I had thought you were erring, I’d have stepped in, but I thought you did a brilliant job by yourself.”
Listen to yourself. It is very important to listen to yourself and how you feel about the situation. Do you feel oppressed, pressured, obliged to do things for this person that you’d rather not do? Does this behavior seem to impact you endlessly, so that after one form of assistance, you are expected to grant yet more help and support? Your answers should serve as a true guide to where your relationship with this person is headed next.
Curtail the guilt trip. One of the key things to keep in mind when escaping the guilt trip bind is that the sooner you nip it in the bud, the better. Take a return-to-sender approach with guilt trips and don’t let the person’s interpretation of your behavior determine the situation. This approach involves taking what the manipulator has said and telling them how they are being disrespectful, inconsiderate, unrealistic, or unkind.
If they say, “You don’t care about all the hard work I’ve done for you”, try saying, “I sure do care about the hard work you’ve done for me. I’ve said as much many times. Now it seems to me that you don’t appreciate how much I care.”
Shorten the person’s hold on you. When a manipulator tries to guilt-trip you by suggesting that they don’t matter, do not buy into it.
Put the focus on the manipulative person. Instead of allowing the manipulator to ask you questions and make demands, take control of the situation. When you are asked or being pressured into doing something unreasonable or that makes you uncomfortable, ask the person some probing questions.
Ask the person, “Does that seem fair to me?” “Do you really think this is reasonable?” “How will this help/benefit me?” “How do you think this makes me feel?”
These questions may cause the manipulator to back down.
Do not make any quick decisions. A manipulator may try to pressure you into making a quick decision or demand a quick response. Instead of giving in, tell the person, “I’ll think about it.” This will keep you from agreeing to something that you do not really want to do or backing yourself into a corner.
If an offer disappears if you take time to think, then it may be because you wouldn’t do it if you had time to think. If they’re pushing you to make a split-second decision, the best answer is likely a “no thanks.”
Build your support network. Focus on your healthier relationships, and spend time with people who make you feel happy and confident. Look to family members, friends, mentors, a partner, and/or friends from the internet. These people can help you stay balanced and happy with yourself. Don’t let yourself be isolated!
Stay away from the manipulator. If you find that it is becoming too difficult or harmful for you to interact with a manipulative person, keep your distance from them. 0 If the manipulator is a family member or coworker that you have to be around, try to limit your interactions. Only engage when it is absolutely necessary.