Friday, January 4, 2013

How To Know If You're Being Manipulated

You manipulate others when you treat people as “things” in ways that defeat sincere communication and communion. Everyone does this to some degree. Manipulation results from a rigid personality trend or pattern in which your interaction with others contains a hidden agenda that sabotages honest and open interaction. You do this at mostly unaware and automatic levels.


The Self Compass reveals four manipulative trends that correlate with exaggerated misuse of the four compass points:

  • Love: the Dependent trend
  • Assertion: the Aggressive trend
  • Weakness: the Withdrawn trend
  • Strength: the Controlling trend


It is fear of other people's disapproval that propels the Dependent trend: you avoid Assertion and Strength by pleasing and placating others, even if the price is your sense of self. You are manipulative in these ways:
  • Seek others' good opinion and require them to be reassuring. 
  • Everyone be nice now. 
  • Everything is fine. 
  • Be responsible for everyone’s happiness. 
  • Suffer guilt for anyone’s unhappiness. 
  • Keep the peace, no matter what the cost, even sacrificing your self-hood if necessary. 
  • Feel secretly resentful.

For the Aggressive trend, it is fear of intimacy that blocks Love and Weakness. You manipulate others in these ways:
  • Forestall the risk of loving by getting mad, getting even. 
  • It is others who make you angry, after all. 
  • Make others walk on eggshells by arguing over trivial issues. 
  • Be charming on occasion, to bring others under your power. 
  • Feel secretly lonely.

In the Withdrawn trend, you avoid Strength and Assertion by pulling back from life out of fear that others will discover and ridicule your inadequacies. You manipulate others in these ways:
  • Believe that only others get to enjoy living. 
  • Dream dreams, but take no risks. 
  • Feel numb and detached. 
  • Worriedly read others' minds, assuming their dislike. 
  • Be helpless. 
  • Require others to take responsibility. 
  • When others express impatience, feel confirmation of your unworthiness.
  • Experience secret superiority.  


The Controlling trend avoids Weakness and Love by being in charge. You might feel vulnerable otherwise. To feel out of control brings core fear, something to be avoided at all cost. You manipulate others in these ways:
  • You should always know better than to make mistakes or feel at a loss. 
  • Always keep busy. 
  • Require others to be as perfect as you are. 
  • Judge self and others as never quite good enough. 
And the underlying effect of this manipulative stance? Insensitivity to others' feelings and, occasionally, a sense of the hollow impossibility of it all. 

For more on how to outgrow these manipulative trends and personality patterns using the Self Compass growth tool, read:

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