Do you ever wonder “Am I being manipulated?” To manipulate, by definition, means to change by artful or unfair means so as to serve one’s advantage. This behavior can often be difficult to spot, especially by those that are experienced and convincing in their delivery. Someone who is manipulating you may not be operating in this way intentionally, but you will see gaping holes in these areas of healthy communication and conflict resolution.
First and foremost, a person who has manipulated your emotions will exhibit very little humility or willingness to see potential error. The consideration of “I could be wrong in this situation” is a necessary one in order to resolve conflict effectively. A manipulator in this scenario will likely be unable to conceive that another perspective could be valid.
Insight or self-awareness is also something a manipulator will struggle to grasp. The extension of humility is when someone is able to find or see the specific error they made. They will likely deny or have blinders on surrounding their contribution to the problem. They will likely turn everything around to be your fault when you’re being manipulated.
In every relational conflict, all individuals hold a duty or responsibility for each of their parts. When a person is unable to face that fact and take ownership of the contribution, they are blind to their responsibility. A manipulator may say something like “I made a mistake, so what?” in avoidance of true accountability.
Most importantly, in my opinion, a manipulative person will lack empathy. We are all capable of selfish moments, however, someone who genuinely cares for you and your feelings will always circle back to a state of empathy. Stepping into another’s shoes is necessary for growth and repair in a relationship, and a manipulator will be unable to do this.
The final element of healthy growth is follow-through and genuine effort to make changes. This is the most difficult step for anyone, as habit is incredibly hard to break and reform, but the manipulator will be completely unwilling to adjust. Even if they make promise of change and appear to care, they will ultimately lack consistency.