Severe Teaching Methods

Dealing With Manipulative People

Two Basic Types of Aggression: overt-aggression and covert-aggression.

Covert-Aggressive Personalities
Personality can be defined by the way a person habitually perceives, relates to and interacts with others and the world at large. The tactics of deceit, manipulation and control are a steady diet for covert-aggressive personality. It's the way they prefer to deal with others and to get the things they want in life.

The Process of Victimization
Manipulation victims get hoodwinked for some very good reasons:

  1. A manipulator's aggression is not obvious and we can't point to clear, objective evidence they're aggressing against us.
  2. Manipulators make it seem they're hurting, caring, defending, ... almost anything but fighting. These tactics are hard to recognize as merely clever ploys. They always make just enough sense to make a person doubt their they're being taken abused.
  3. A clever manipulator exploits sensitivities. Manipulators may know us better than we know ourselves and know what buttons to push, when and how hard.
  4. A manipulator challenges everything we believe about human nature. What's more, most of us generally hate to think of ourselves as callous and insensitive people. We hesitate to make harsh or seemingly negative judgments about others. We want to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they have don't really harbor the malevolent intentions we suspect.

Recognizing Aggressive Agendas
Becoming more aware of the subtle, underhanded ways people fight. learning to recognize an aggressive move, and learning how to handle oneself is an empowering experience for the manipulation victims.

Defense Mechanisms and Offensive Tactics
Defense mechanisms are employed to protect or defend from emotional pain. Covert-aggressive personalities use a variety of mental behaviors and interpersonal maneuvers to get what they want. Some of these behaviors have been traditionally thought of as defense mechanisms.

Seeing the aggressor as on the defensive in any sense is a set-up for victimization. Recognizing that they're primarily on the offensive mentally prepares a person for the decisive action needed to avoid being run over. Aggressive personalities primarily want to manipulate, control and achieve dominance over others.

Denial: the aggressor refuses to admit that they've done something harmful or hurtful when they clearly have. It's a way they lie (to themselves as well. as others) about their aggressive intentions. The aggressor gives himself permission to keep right on doing what, they want to do. This type of denial is primarily a maneuver the aggressor uses to get others to back off, back down or feel guilty.

Selective Inattention: The aggressor "plays dumb," or acts oblivious; actively ignores the warnings, pleas or wishes of others, and in general, refuses to pay attention to everything and anything that might distract them from pursuing the agenda.

Rationalization: The excuse an aggressor tries to offer for engaging in an inappropriate or harmful behavior; especially when the explanation or justification makes just enough sense that a conscientious person is likely to fall for it. If the aggressor can convince they're justified in whatever they're doing, then they're freer to pursue their goals without interference.

Diversion: A moving target is hard to hit. When we try to pin a manipulator down or try to keep a discussion focused on a single issue or behavior we don't like, they're expert at knowing how to change the subject, dodge the issue or in some way throw us a curve. Whenever someone is not responding directly to an issue, you can safely assume that for some reason, they're trying to give you the slip.

Lying: There are times when the truth will out, but there are times when you don't know you've been deceived until it's too late. One way to minimize the chances that someone will put one over on you is to remember that because aggressive personalities of all types will generally stop at nothing to get what they want, you can expect them to lie and cheat. Manipulators are prone to lie in subtle, covert ways often by withholding or by distorting the truth. They are adept at being vague when you ask them direct questions.

Covert Intimidation: Covert-aggressives intimidate their victims by making veiled (subtle, indirect or implied) threats. Guilt-tripping and shaming. Aggressive personalities know other people have very different consciences than they do. The more conscientious the potential victim, the more effective guilt is as a weapon. Aggressive personalities of all types use guilt-tripping so frequently and effectively as a manipulative tactic, that I believe it illustrates how fundamentally different in character they are compared to other (especially neurotic) personalities. All a manipulator has to do is suggest to the conscientious person that they don't care enough, are too selfish, etc., and that person immediately starts to review his behavior. On the contrary, a conscientious person might try until they're blue in the face to get a manipulator (or any other aggressive personality to feel badly about a hurtful behavior, acknowledge responsibility, or admit wrongdoing, to absolutely no avail.

Shaming: using subtle sarcasm and put-downs as a means of increasing fear and self-doubt in others; to make others feel inadequate or unworthy; to foster a continued sense of personal inadequacy.

Playing the Victim: portraying oneself as an innocent victim of circumstance or someone else's behavior in order to gain sympathy, evoke compassion and thereby get something from another.

Vilifying the Victim: used in conjunction with playing the victim. The aggressor says he is only responding to aggression on the part of the victim.

Playing the Servant: to cloak self-serving agendas in the guise of service to a more noble cause. Conceals ambition, desire for power, and quest for a position of dominance. One hallmark characteristic of covert-aggressive personalities is loudly professing subservience while fighting for dominance.

Seduction: charming, praising, flattering or supporting others in order to get them to lower their defenses and surrender their trust and loyalty. People who are to some extent emotionally needy and dependent (and that includes most people who aren't character-disordered) want to be heard and understood. Appearing to be attentive to these needs can be a manipulator's ticket to incredible power over others.

Blaming: shifting the blame for aggressive behavior; finding scapegoats and doing so in subtle, hard to detect ways.

Minimization: denial coupled with rationalization. Asserting abusive behavior isn't really as harmful or irresponsible as someone else may, be claiming. It's the aggressor's attempt to make a molehill out of a mountain.