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Dealing with manipulative people: This is the only guide you’ll ever need

Updated on:15 February 2021, 15:08pm IST
We all have manipulators in our lives, but it is important that we do not agree to their whims and fancies. Here’s what you can do to deal with them
Geetika Sachdev
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Manipulation can really harm your self-confidence. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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Haven’t we all come across manipulative people? They could be friends, family or even your partner. You might not even realise in the beginning, but their behaviour starts to show up gradually, when they try to push your buttons every now and then. Manipulation is a form of emotional blackmail, because a person tries to make you scared or guilty, or criticises or intimidates you, all so that you do things, their way. 

There’s no denying that as humans, we all want things to be done our own way. But is this the right approach? Not at all. We need to treat others as equals, instead of trying to have an upper hand and controlling another person. Manipulation in any form is wrong, because healthy individuals ask for what they need, and say it aloud without trying to play any kind of mind games, or prompt actions to fulfil their ulterior motive. 

What are the signs that you are being manipulated?

It is important to know if you are being manipulated or not, before you jump to conclusions: 

  1. These people undermine your faith
  2. Their actions are very different from their words
  3. They make you feel guilty
  4. They try and play the victim card 
  5. They agree to help and later act as if they have done something sacrificial 
  6. They always try to have an upper hand
Here’s how you can tackle manipulative people

First things first, being manipulated is an awful feeling, because someone else is trying to handle the reins of your life. They try to make you question your confidence, so it’s almost natural that you feel mentally stressed and physically fatigued all the time. It also makes you feel helpless and shameful.  

  1. Be open-minded: First of all, you need to know if the person is really manipulating you or not. Are you doing things of your own accord or are they making you feel it’s your choice? Think about it very carefully, because there’s a huge difference between someone encouraging you strongly, and manipulating you.   
  2. Confront the person: First of all, think if the person is safe enough? Can s/he do any sort of harm when you confront him/her head on? If the person isn’t really safe, then you need to check with a counselor on the next steps and how to approach the person, because it’s your safety that matters the most.
  3. Don’t automatically apologise: Manipulative people are very good at turning the tables, and making everything your fault. They love to play the victim. Sometimes, you might think it’s better to apologise to resolve the matter peacefully, but you are only giving them more control over you. Because at the end of the day, manipulators will never say they are responsible for anything.
  4. Set and enforce healthy boundaries: Do not get played by the manipulator. Instead, try and enforce healthy boundaries that will prevent you from being harmed. The more destructive the manipulation, the stronger your boundaries should be. You might also want to increase physical distance between the other person and yourself.

Geetika Sachdev Geetika Sachdev

An independent writer and journalist, Geetika loves sharp and fresh humour, just like her coffee! If not writing, you'll find her cafe-hopping and raiding the best book stores in town.