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  • Daniel Chua

Communicate. Don't Manipulate.

Updated: Apr 1, 2021

Many of us live life with the assumption that resources are limited. Isn't that the basic principle of economics - scarcity? We thought that to get ahead in life, we must grab and take as much as possible. We have a "win-lose" mentality, that is, if we are to win, others must lose.

Therefore, every once in a while, we become a little manipulative so we can have a bigger share of the pie. However, it can be a serious challenge when it’s your default way of getting what you want. Others eventually catch on to what you’re doing, and it’s not an attractive way to live your life.

I believe, the contrary is true. If we approach life with a win-win mentality, we can actually enlarge the pie and everyone wins. The secret lies in the art of communication.

It’s much more effective to learn how to ask for what you want simply and directly. Manipulating others can work in the short-term, but it’s a poor long-term strategy.

There are several common traits manipulative people often share:

  1. They lack boundaries. Manipulative people lack awareness of commonly accepted boundaries. They’ll go anywhere, say anything, and do anything to get what they want. Interestingly, it’s been documented that manipulators frequently lack physical boundaries, too. They often stand too close for comfort.

  2. They lack insight. Manipulators often lack self-awareness. They never really look at their own behaviour and question how they engage others in the world. Emotionally healthy people are aware of how they behave and view the world. Manipulators lack this trait.

  3. They play the victim. Everyone else is to blame. They don’t want to take responsibility for their actions, but they want everyone else to take responsibility for theirs.

  4. They rely on half-truths. You couldn’t successfully prosecute them in a court of law, because they’re very careful. You’ll get half of the story that helps their cause, but they’ll conveniently leave out the half that changes the context.

  5. They use guilt as a weapon. Manipulative people often rely on guilt to get their way. Rather than ask for what they want directly, they’ll rely on guilt to motivate you to do their bidding.

Understanding these traits will make it easier to recognize them in yourself and others. If you have any of these qualities, it will be more challenging to have healthy relationships.

Get what you need without resorting to manipulation:

  1. Avoid passive-aggressive behaviour. People that fail to communicate their needs are often sneaky about finding ways to get their needs met. Rather than explain what they need directly to others, they find passive-aggressive ways to get what they want. Have the courage to just ask or explain.

  2. Honesty is the best policy. You don’t need to invent situations or alternative facts to communicate directly. Own your feelings and your happiness and speak your truth. It’s easier on everyone in your life, including you.

  3. Avoid blaming. Blaming others rarely has a positive effect, regardless of the situation. They’re your feelings and your needs, so it’s your responsibility to take responsibility. Other people are too busy to actively seek out and understand your needs and feelings. It’s up to you.

  4. Look for mutual solutions. When someone is manipulative, they’re putting themselves first. This doesn’t work well in any relationship. One way to avoid being manipulative is to find solutions that benefit both parties.

  5. Remember other’s needs, too. You’re not the only one with needs. If you can remember that other people, including your partner, have needs, too, you’ll be less likely to resort to manipulation.

If you’re manipulative, understand that it’s not necessary. If the only way to get your needs met is to manipulate others, you’re not hanging around with the right crowd.

Work on yourself to remove any manipulative tendencies you might have. This might even require seeking professional help, especially if you grew up being manipulative. Your life will be much more comfortable and satisfying.

You can learn the art of communication; express and meet your needs and wants in a non-violent way, resulting in stronger relationships and partnerships. Ping me if you want to find out more.

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