Mar 10

When will the manipulator stop manipulating?

Stop Manipulating

When you stop complying with his demands forced by manipulative techniques.


There is many-many ways to ask something!


For instance your partner wants to go to a concert in the weekend when everybody in the family wants something different to do.


He can ask straightforward:

“I know mom wants us be there for dinner and Gabi wants to go to a party, and you are not a big fan of this kind of music, but there is a concert that I really would like to hear. Please let’s go to the concert!” – In additionhe can make further arrangements what other time can you go to mom’s house and maybe he can miss Gabi from the concert so she can go to the party.

Managing things democratically might take some time, courage and hassle, but in this way everybody’s wishes and wants will be at least considered.

If your partner wants to avoid the negotiation part or not willing to give and take, he can reach for manipulative tools like:



Silent treatment: Don’t communicate with you until you cave in and chose to go to the concert.

Threat: He can yell at you until you give in and agree go keep up with him. Or he can calmly threat you with anything you don’t like: not going for hiking with you or simply with divorce.

Put downs: He can give you a lecture about the importance of music and art, indicating that people who are not regular concert goers are in some way inferior compare to the concert goers. So you can be ashamed if you are not enthusiastic about his offer. If he is rather rude, he can call you outright simpleton if you are not interested.

Guilt trip: He can engage in a long conversation in which he brings up past events when he fulfilled your wish dramatized by how difficult it was for him.  He can come up with sob stories of how much he does for the family therefore he deserves some repayment. The meaning of the whole scenario is that you have to feel guilty if you don’t fulfill his wish.

Constant Badgering:  If the atmosphere at home is very critical, if you are questioned for every decision you make, you might not want to oppose anything anyway to avoid further critique.

Persuasion: At first it does not seem manipulative, because he comes up with arguments. You can get suspicious if it never ends and when he accepts none of your counter-argument or feelings: he just not takes No as an answer.


So why does he do that?


Historically – surely this was what he learned, or simply he did not learn the democratic, cooperative way of communication.

Economically – negotiating, give and take needs lots of effort, patience and “let go” of our will. Maybe it’s not worth for him.

Functionally – when he considers your opinion as well, his wants will not be always fulfilled. If he applies manipulative force – which does not consider your wants – his wants will be fulfilled.


Here is the key, when he will stop manipulate:

He manipulates because it works. He pushes you with one of the unfair tactics and you do what he wants. Next time he wants something, he will apply the same force that worked before.


Sooner or later he will stop manipulation when it does not work any longer.

If you want to stop manipulation:  stop complying with his requests communicated by manipulative force.You can even sharpen the edge by putting emphasis on being very agreeable when he asks something straightforward but not fulfilling his needs and want until he pressurizes you with manipulative force. This tactic might re-train the communication between the two of you.



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Feb 10

Six Most Commonplace Tools Used For Manipulation

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Guilt Trip, Silent Treatment, Threat, Attacking Self Esteem, Excessive Criticism, Competition Provoking: Tools of Manipulation

Guilt Trip, Silent Treatment, Threat, Attacking Self Esteem, Excessive Criticism and Provoking Competition all can serve one goal: make you doing what the “provocateur” wants you to…


What people consider manipulation might be defined differently case by case. The common outcome is making the target feel seriously uncomfortable if they don’t perform the will of the “operator”. The different ingredients include guilt, shame or anxiety.

Manipulation has a hidden agenda against straightforward communication.  It has to be covert because it serves the manipulator’s interest in direct opposition to the target’s desires.

Making you feel guilty, ashamed or worried can occur by verbal statement or question. It can come in the form of hints, stories, and comparisons. It often happens by the tone of voice, facial expression or gesture.

Common manipulative tools:


1/ Guilt trips

Guilt trips can come in many forms: “If you were a good…, you would do…” “If you loved me, you would…” “If you knew what I have been through…” Naturally it involves that if you don’t do what I ask for, you are not a good (wife, husband, parent, or child) or it means you don’t love me. Hence, you better comply!

A guilt trip can derive from a situation as well. Unfortunately, children learn to use it very early on. For example, a freshly separated mother had difficulties disciplining her daughter. The minute she made the child accountable for her mischief; she began to cry that she misses her father. It provoked guilt in the mother, and she stopped the discipline action and began to comfort the child.


Tip to handle:

Don’t cave in even when feeling guilty is difficult. Be firm about what you want to accomplish and do it anyway. You can accompany your decision with comments like: “I am sorry you feel that way.”

(Note: you might feel guilty, but you don’t have to take all the responsibility for the situation. Making you feel guilty is not necessarily based on the “truth”, but created for compliance with the hidden agenda.)


2/ Silent treatment

Silent treatment works by withdrawing communication, emotion, and eventually sex from the target until s/he accomplishes the manipulator’s demand. In essence, it is controlling the partner behavior by fear: fear of disconnection, fear of rejection, fear of abandonment.


Tip to handle: Don’t show your fear and don’t nag for communication. Respond in a neutral, easy-going manner: “I see you don’t want to communicate with me right now. I am going to garden (read, work on my project…) a bit. Please tell me when you are willing to communicate with me again.”


3/ Threats

This category is well known from Domestic Violence cases and even some famous crimes: “I will harm you if you don’t do what I tell you.”  It operates with the purest fear of staying safe and sound. It can be blackmail to destroy anything important for you – career, relationship or reputation.


Tip to handle: If you are in physical danger, escape, find outside help.

In the case of yelling you can say: “I don’t accomplish requests told with yelling.”

Warning: The more you give in, the less likely it would stop.


4/ Attacking Self-Esteem

Put downs, labels, judgments or contempt – maybe a simple roll of the eyes make you feel inferior. These forms of communication are harshly criticizing the character. It does not have to be completely straightforward; it might be a dirty comment like: “Only ‘working girls’ are wearing lipstick in the daylight.” You know this is the covert way of saying you’re a wh…

Feeling belittled and ashamed, you do what your manipulator expects you to do in order to avoid similar – disrespectful – treatment. This treatment profoundly undermines self-esteem.


Tip to handle: First of all, don’t take it seriously; it is just a tool in order to control you. Even your manipulator doesn’t think it’s true.

Second:  Never allow anyone to talk to you disrespectfully! Whenever you receive a comment like this, please respond in a calm but firm voice: “This is not acceptable.”

Third: Do what you think the right thing to do is independently of other’s opinion.


5/ Excessive criticism

In some circumstances, criticism can be useful. However, I think it is less likely than people usually think. Reinforcing desired behavior is much more fruitful than pointing out mistakes.

More often than not, I find criticism is a means of controlling the other’s behavior by weakening their confidence and self-reliance. People who are constantly criticized feel inferior; they allow themselves to be controlled in order to avoid criticism.


Tip to handle: Paradoxically, if you ask for more critiques – details or something else s/he does not like in you – they run out of steam sooner than if you argue with them. Being in defense mode is oil on fire: they’re eager to prove you wrong.


6/ Competition provoking

 “This morning, who will dress up first??” “Whoever brings home better grades will have access to the new games.” “Whom will you spend the Holidays with, me or with your parents?” Unfortunately, many parents use this tactic because it makes parenting easier – on the account of the children. Where competition rules, there is always a loser.


Tip to handle: There is always a way of cooperating, negotiating. Arrange the situation differently, set the goals differently, and find out different “games”. – Instead of “Who will be first today? –say: “Please help each other to get ready in time.”


Keep in mind: Compliance reinforces manipulative tactics!


Image courtesy of imagerymajestic /




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Jan 03

New Year’s Relationship Resolution Checklist

Image courtesy of [smokedsalmon] / <a href="" target="_blank">

Power, Finance, Workload, Appreciation, Understanding, Support. Freedom, Trust

Is Your Relationship Fairly Balanced or Does It Need Some Resolution for the New Year?

Closing the old year and starting a new one based on our achievements, career, physical or financial well being, we might also tinker about the current state of our relationship. Some people know exactly what would be desirable to change; unfortunately some only have a hazy feeling of dissatisfaction.


In my opinion, the relationship is better if there is a balance in most areas. What exactly is this balance depends on the couple. Furthermore, it has to be the result of negotiation. For one couple it might be that one of them is the bread winner while the other is the home maker. However, the same shared agreement might not work for others. The important thing to consider is that give and take needs to be equal – roughly.


Here you have my short checklist of what you need to consider.


1: Power. Who has the power to decide important things like; where to live, where the kids attend school, do you go for a holiday and when and where, what house/car will you purchase, who will be your friends?


2: Finance. Do you share finances or is each responsible for his/her own spending? Who is the financial minister in your home? Are the issues negotiable?


3: Workload. Are you both working outside the house? Who is responsible for the housework, the yard work, for fixing things, for the children’s activity and behavior? When adding this up, is the workload shared fairly?


4: Appreciation. Do you show your appreciation to each other about what is accomplished? How is this achieved? Is it verbally, physically, with presents, with favors or with services? Is the showing of appreciation mutual?


5: Understanding/Acceptance. Do you show understanding for each other’s feelings? When and how? Do you show understanding even when you would not feel the same way in the same situation and does your partner do it with you? Do you accept each other all together with your differences or is criticism often present in your home?


6: Support. Do you support each other’s dreams and personal development no matter what or only when it has benefit for you as well?


7: Freedom. Do you give the freedom to each other to choose friends, hobbies, spare time activities, how to spend his/her money, or change jobs?


8: Honesty/Trust. Can you be honest with your partner? Do you trust in him/her? Does s/he trust in you and is s/he honest with you?



Now you probably have your list of satisfaction and the possible places to change. Now it is worth it to think about how you can make those changes happen.


Please be aware that you cannot change your partner’s personality. You can ask certain behavior or action to change though.


With an honest benevolent partner, you might tell what you would like to have instead of what you’ve got. You can negotiate and compromise.


With a partner who pursues unfair advantages, you might decide what you want and what you are willing to do or not to do any longer, and change only your behavior. Your partner’s behavior change might follow.


Have a Joyful Relationship and Happy New Year!


Image courtesy of smokedsalmon /


Have you found that your relationship is rather controlling and onesided? My New, Affordable Short Training against Emotional Manipulation is accessible Online:

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Oct 23

How to protect our children from manipulation?

In courtesy of by David Castillo Dominici

Protect our Children from Emotional Manipualtion


With open, straight communication and with insight to what’s going on the surface and in the hidden level.


The 3 important points I can summarize in regards to the complex task are:



A: We must not use manipulative techniques to control our children’s behavior! We need to take responsibility for our words, actions, and requests!
 B: Raise awareness when manipulation happens.
 C: Help them with sorting out and getting rid of the imposed feeling of guilt, shame and anxiety.



In order to be able to perform these tasks, we need to be as clear as possible as to what constitutes manipulation.


The manipulator wants to control the target’s behavior by imposing guilt, shame or anxiety. S/he is doing it by referring some arbitrary rules on how good friends, children, and spouses behave. If the target does not behave that way, s/he faces the prospect of being labeled as a bad friend, bad child and has to be ashamed or worried about abandonment or rejection.


A/ Do we unconsciously manipulate them?


Most of us are sensitive to manipulation because this was the way we were socialized: “Good children listen to their parents.” In some cases the consequence is emotional withdrawal showing in facial expression, atmosphere, or silent treatment: “I don’t love you if you’re bad.” Big – big –big threat for the kids! ( Notice! What is good or bad is arbitrary and the rules change from situation to situation! It differs from family to family.)


Another situation: the children are tired, they are getting ready very slowly in the morning, and you are getting late. One seemingly innocent competition might resolve the problem for today: “Who will be ready first with getting dressed?” The kids begin to rush and compete with each other: you “won”. They’re ready just in time.


Did you really win? – You’ve just created a loser who is disappointed, desperate and maybe ashamed. Not to mention that the kids learned to dress  quickly in order to avoid being ashamed or worried from rejection (loss of love) and not because they realize that getting to school and work in time is the normal structure of time and  respectful behavior toward the others.


Don’t be mistaken! The two ends of the continuum are manipulation versus straight communication. If we are sensitive to manipulation, there is a good chance that in another situation we apply manipulation as well – maybe unconsciously, maybe because this comes first as a result of our upbringing.


From now on: no more “Shame on you!” No more threat.  No more silent treatment. No more emotion withdrawal.


What can we do instead? Taking responsibility for our will: “I want you to listen to me!” Be specific: “I want you to do the homework before you go playing.” Or:  “I’d like you to get ready as quickly as you can, because I don’t want to be late.”  We might give an explanation why it is important to us, we might weigh how much it is important to us, but sometimes it is not necessary. The main point: we want this to happen, not some extraterrestrial rules – what we are not responsible for – governing our household.


We are responsible for what we want, what we say and how we say it. Take this responsibility!


B/ Raising awareness.


The more I am aware of how manipulation works, the more I notice it happens. There is no way I would keep it secret. Whenever I feel someone wants to manipulate me or my children, I make it clear, and explain it to my children. However I try to keep the balance by not turning them against teachers who are controlling them with fear and shame.


I explain to them why I think scaring them with the difficulty of middle school is manipulation: the teacher wants them to learn and be compliant because of their fear of dropping behind, not being good enough. – I want them to learn because they are smart, because knowledge is good, because they like to learn. I want them to cooperate with the teacher because cooperation is the best way of getting along with our environment.


- Actually, we do the same: we want to motivate them to learn and cooperate. The difference is in the feelings the two method implicate. Manipulation causes guilt, shame, anxiety, encouragement triggers confidence.


I explain to them why the Fund Raisers coming home from school using children as sales force is manipulation – as I explained it in my previous Blog Entry.


Naturally, they are allowed to disagree, but still, this is my opinion.


C/ Helping them when someone else is manipulating them.


When I see that they are struggling with worries, guilt or shame, I talk about it with them. First I try to understand what they are going through. The best way of doing it is to acknowledge and accept the feeling that they are experiencing at the moment. Simple denial “No, you don’t have to worry!” – is not enough.


I help them to understand what’s going on in their mind and why. If it comes from someone else making them feeling guilty, ashamed or worry, I clarify it with them. The relief usually comes with the understanding: the other wanted me to feel this way because of this/her goal, not because I am truly slow, unlovable, dirty, lazy … kid.


Naturally if they need some intervention, I do it for them.


All in all: The best weapon against manipulation is open, straight communication.


Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at



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