Are You Really Safe from Manipulation?
Believe it or not, you are being manipulated in so many ways. It usually comes in many forms but the most prominent are usually the exploitations that comes in the form of guilt and threats.
Emotional manipulation is the most effective form of manipulation because most people are quite emotional which means that someone who knows how to tune them will most likely achieve his or her aim.
Manipulators are usually after one thing: using subtle means to gain an unfair advantage for themselves at someone's expense, someone’s ignorance, someone’s gullibility, someone’s trust, and suchlike. They often exploit typical human characteristics such as greed, dishonesty, vanity, opportunism, lust, compassion, credulity, irresponsibility, desperation, and naïvety.
Imagine if you are living in a society where everybody is telling the truth? No fakers, no liars, no deceivers, no false promisers… Alright, I know that might sound a little bit way off and somewhat utopian but what if you are living in a society where altruism is the order of the day and everyone is being held accountable to always seek for a win-win situation in their dealings with others?
Well, I believe that is exactly what will happen when so many people become aware of how manipulation works and the simple ways to become free from being manipulated.
Now, before we get to the crux of the matter, let’s get something clear. One thing you must always bear in mind, you cannot be completely free from manipulation!
Okay, just keep reading, I’ll tell you why later.
But for now, let me just give you some of the tips which has helped me in recognizing certain manipulative acts and prevent myself from becoming a victim with the hope that you will learn from it and save yourself and so many others from such ‘attacks’. So in this piece, I’m going to try to identify some of those simple ways that you can use to overcome any, okay let’s just say overcome so many forms of manipulation.
In my own opinion, it’s imperative that so many people become aware of these things because that’s the first step towards building that altruistic society, free of fakers and liars and users, which I believe so many people really desire. The truth is that I’ve come to notice that people often tend to act right by becoming more real and more upright and truthful and direct when they know they cannot achieve their aim through underhand exploitative means.
So if you are ready and you want to learn the very simple tips on how to stay free from being deceived, then join me.
To become free from manipulation, you have to:
Become more knowledgeable
The more you know, the more difficult it becomes for someone to mislead you. Yes, that is why it is often said that knowledge is power.
And what is the easiest way to become knowledgeable?
Of course, reading first comes to mind. Not just reading but reading very wide. Get informed. Luckily we live in an information age and if you are not that well informed, you have yourself to blame.
Wisdom often comes from experience and that will surely become a whole lot of advantage for the person who reads because he ends up learning from the experiences of so many other people—even without necessarily becoming a victim himself.
Granted, you cannot know or learn everything but I’m telling you that if you start to make the effort to increase your awareness mostly about the things going on around you, you will find out that you are becoming less and less susceptible to everyday subtle suggestions which is usually how manipulation starts.
To become free from manipulation, you need to develop your will power. You need to learn how to be firm and resolute in your decision making process.
Those who are strong-willed are often those who are not so easily influenced or moved by things or suggestions. So you need to be able to develop that internal force that will help you to say no and mean it when it is necessary.
Becoming strong-willed will also help you to develop that independence and self acceptance such that rather than seeking for validation from others—which is usually what opens you up for suggestions—you will start to learn how to trust yourself and develop your confidence.
Becoming strong-willed is one of the easiest ways to counter any manipulative attack because most of the things others might try to say by guilt-tripping you will not work on you.
Stop and think
Yes, don’t be too hasty in making or reaching your decisions. Stop and think. Learn to always look before you leap.
Of course, if you have ever read this story, you will see that the bird specifically told the hunter that the reason for this is because so many people are telling you lies and very stupid things.
But unfortunately, due to your usually rash attitude to certain matters, you always end up making the same mistakes.
I have a friend. He's very goodhearted but his major problem is that he can be easily swayed. In fact, for a guy, he's just too emotional. All you have to do to make him turn against someone is to tell him, no, just insinuate something terrible about this other person. He will not even ask you to substantiate your claims; he’ll simply start hating on that person.
Sometimes, we laugh at him because his flip-flop nature which we consider so childish because he just happens to be too quick to trust—and to distrust too, which makes his turnarounds in his views and change in behavior towards the person he's hating—should he happen to get a contrary view about the person—even more melodramatic.
Funny isn’t it?
But so many people, I mean, so many grown-ups are like that! You easily form a wrong opinion about someone simply because you are wont to always making hasty decisions.
So get ready to start effecting that change. Make sure you take your time in reaching your decisions. This will always help you in making decisions that are not solely based on your emotions.
Always ask why
Yes, always ask why. This is usually as a follow up to stopping and thinking. Make it a point to always want to know why something is so. Do your own researches. Ask questions all the time. And stop forming that terrible habit of just accepting whatever you are told without questions.
Some people might scold you for trying to know too much but don’t be deterred. Try as much as possible to always get more information on any particular topic before you make your own decisions.
When an exploiter finds out that you are the type that is always asking questions, chances are they will simply avoid you.
Which is good for you.
So form that habit of asking why always.
You need to be open-minded. Your open-mindedness will always give you the opportunity to receive and consider facts and contrary views. Remember, we established this earlier when we were talking about becoming more knowledgeable and gaining more experience.
Those with rigid mindset easily miss out on this very point. In fact, sometimes, their often stubborn posture notwithstanding, such people are the easiest to con.
Of course, their mind is already made up so you already have an idea how they will react assuming you want to gyp them. Don’t forget that the reason why most people are so easily manipulated is because they are so predictable.
But the open-minded person may not be so easily predicted thus making him a lot more difficult for him to become a victim.
As a follow-up to being open-minded, it is also advisable that you don’t assume anything in your dealings with others.
Most times, people are so trusting because they easily assume the person who they are dealing with has no reason whatsoever to play dirty, or to be deceitful.
In the idealistic world, that should be the case but unfortunately, we are not living in an idealistic world but rather, we just find ourselves in the realistic world where people are bound to have their ulterior motives.
Our wont to easily make assumptions can often lead us into making lots and lots of wrong judgment calls most especially when we are dealing with people in authority since they are usually the ones we tend to trust so easily.
Remember, your English teacher was right; the hood does not make the monk!
Build a credible reputation
It’s true. You cannot demand that everyone becomes upright and straightforward in their dealings with you if you are not like that yourself.
Try running and/or engaging yourself in a genuine and clean business only. Make it a point to steer clear and stay away from activities that are capable of tainting your name.
The thing is that when people know that you are not the type that likes engaging in shady deals, chances are they will not like to involve you in any of their shady deals.
At least, they will seriously think and think again before they come your way.
And the best part?
Of course, you can easily tell them the answer is NO should they eventually come your way.
Watch that greed
I have heard so many people say that gullible people are also the greediest people. They argue that greedy people who engage in dubious activities are often interested in how to selfishly gain an unfair advantage for themselves at another person’s expense. Only to end up discovering that they were the real and intended victims when the dust finally settles.
People are bound to be greedy, I know, but to avoid being swindled, you MUST learn to always watch and rein in that greed.
When someone is presenting a too-good-to-be-true offer to you, or even narrating his personal problems to you, sometimes without you even asking, instead of diving in so soon and collaborating or getting sucked in, again just ask yourself questions like why is he telling me all this? Who stands to gain in all these things?
In most cases, simple questions like that might just be all you need to wake up from the trance and easily walk away from the well-laid traps and baits that might have been already set for you.
And the last but not the least…
This just about sums up everything we’ve been saying. You will surely become smart once you (learn how to) start doing these things I have mentioned so far. And I strongly believe that is what will help you to smell the lies from far off.
And the smarter you get; the more difficult it is surely going to become for anybody to con you. Which is exactly what we want for you.
As you become smarter, you’ll start noticing the glibness and cunning in people easily. You’ll start to understand body language and you gain more foresight and insight into human behavior. You’ll start to read deeper meanings into things that people say. You’ll start to understand people and their motives the more. In fact, you’ll start to decipher how these cunning people ply their trade such that the next time you encounter a similarity either in their acts or words; you will be very much capable to protect yourself.
Your increasing smartness will also enable you to learn how to play a manipulator at his own game by knowing when to play along and when to pull the rug from his feet.
And to tell you the truth, it’s always fun doing this.
Yes, I’m speaking from experience.
So that’s it. Those are some of the ways I have mastered to protect myself from being deceived. But like I mentioned earlier, these tips cannot be said to be completely foolproof.
Now, let me tell you why.
First, no matter what you do to become smart, there will always be someone who will be smarter and cleverer than you and God save you if this person happens to be a manipulator and chooses you as his next victim.
But not to worry. In most cases, those who want to ‘use your brain’ will most likely want or be 'forced' to become true to themselves when they find out that you are somewhat a tough nut to crack.
Then secondly, naturally, most people will always seek the easiest way out of any difficulty. So there's every possibility that they are going to open themselves open to manipulators who might be promising them that easier way out. No wonder Niccolo Machiavelli is quoted to have said that "Men are so simple of mind, and so dominated by their immediate needs, that a deceitful man will always find plenty who are ready to be deceived."
Furthermore, people like to be seduced. Remember, the origin of the word "seduction" is the Latin for "to lead astray". Believe it or not, people like to be misled. People like to be told lies. For some people, the fantasy is just too much for them to resist even when the signs that one is being deceived is there for even the blind to see.
Also, don't forget that people will always fall in love. And like they say, a person in love is emotional, pliable, and easily misled.
I don’t know if I should be telling you this but not all manipulation is bad.
Oh yes. Don’t forget that persuasion is still a form of manipulation but at the end of the day, it all comes down to the reason why you are being persuaded and who stands to gain from the whole issue. Is this manipulation being done with a view to achieve a one-sided victory or is it done in the spirit of true altruism to create a win-win situation for all concerned?
That’s the question you should always have at the back of your mind when you want to persuade someone—or you are being persuaded.