Manipulation: Using Other People's Weaknesses to Gain Power
We’re walking through a subway station. We come back home tired from a strenuous day at work, wanting to lie on our longed-for couch and devour the entire refrigerator. Suddenly, we begin to smell crepes and the memory brings us the sensation of their flavor, which we love. In the background, a musician tunes one of your favorite songs on his guitar. Would you give him a coin?
The psychologist Robert Baron of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, studied this phenomenon with his team. According to their results, it seems that we’re three times more likely to give a coin if we’re surrounded by pleasant smells.
This is how nature influences human beings. However, it’s not always best for the emotional part of our brain to take over before the logical part. How then, do we detect the manipulation? How do we know what is manipulating us? Let’s dig deeper.
Small, daily acts of manipulation
It’s normal for us to give in to something that indulges our ego and promises us happinesses. Without getting too much into the topic, we can say that success is generally about using persuasion both implicitly and explicitly.
Manipulation has a powerful effect on us, as we are social and emotional creatures. In fact, we are sometimes convinced by the most trivial attitudes and actions. For example, we succumb to our cat’s call to pick something up for the simple fact that he meows for it.
Maybe we give in to our children’s requests to play video games for more time even though we don’t believe they should. Our children are experts at playing with our emotions, and they continually test us. Children are great evidence that humans master the act of manipulation very early.
Manipulation is a natural tendency that is present in all of us. We can’t feel guilty about trying to use all our available resources to get what we want. We all manipulate to a greater or lesser extent. However, the true manipulators know their limits when to use it.
These true specialists of deception and simulation are fed by the small secrets or tokens that you show them. We may act in a generous or sincere manner, only for the master manipulator to use that act as a great ace up their sleeve to use against you later.
A high degree of manipulation towards others may even be a sign of psychopathy. In short, the manipulator uses your weaknesses for their benefit. The manipulator uses your weaknesses against you and convinces you to act the way they want.
Manipulators have a need to control others and don’t feel guilty about it. With that being said, there are certain characteristics shared by those who are easily deceived. Additionally, if you give in to manipulation one time, you’re more likely to give in to manipulation again in the future. This occurs because vulnerability is a learned behavior.
If you reveal your weaknesses, you’re at the mercy of others
The manipulator attempts to promise you what you want most. Therefore, the more you know about their needs and wants, the more weapons you can use against the manipulator.
In addition, manipulators are experts in exploiting your insecurities. For example, if you feel awkward or have doubts about your abilities, people will try to help you, but always for a steep price. On many occasions, the products you buy during times like these are nothing but smoke and mirrors.
We also have “the eternal victim”. This type of manipulation is more complex because no material item is traded. The eternal victim is constantly complaining and venting to you. Frequently, they tell you things that are tempting to tell other people, but you begin to feel guilty if you do expose their secrets to others.
The eternal victims always make themselves to appear to be worse off than everyone else. The eternal victim is always more affected than the other party in their dramas, and they’re always dealing with the most painful circumstances. You have no reason to complain or have your turn to vent. In this case, the manipulator is manipulating you for your undivided attention.
There are many types of manipulators, but they’re all based on the same idea. At first, they appeal to your feelings to get something from you that you don’t want to give them. To avoid falling into this trap, it’s necessary to be particularly attentive.
How do we protect ourselves from manipulation?
The best solution to protecting ourselves from manipulation is having good self-esteem. By being self-assured, it’s much harder to be persuaded by purely emotional arguments. Self-confidence allows us to distinguish when something makes sense and when something does not.
In addition, it’s important to consider whether our relationships are beneficial. If someone does us more harm than good, why should we continue talking to them? The best thing we can do is get rid of the people who use us without caring about our feelings at all.
You shouldn’t feel bad if you need to cut someone out of your life. If you detect that someone is trying to manipulate you, don’t hesitate to get away from that person immediately.