Emotional manipulation is a type of influence an individual wields that aims to change the perception or behavior of others through underhanded, deceptive, or even abusive tactics. By advancing only the interests of the manipulator, often at another’s expense, such methods are be considered exploitative, abusive, devious, and deceptive.
Methods of Emotional Manipulation
You make a statement that is turned around to be used against you in a negative way.
The person will speak with an air of honesty that is in fact a cover for their true intentions. An example would be that you would tell this person something like, “I am really angry that you forgot my birthday.” Their response would be that “it makes me feel sad that you would think I would forget your birthday, I should have told you of the great personal stress I am facing at the moment, but you see I didn’t want to trouble you. You are right I should have put all this pain (by this point, persuasive tears may begin to appear in order to give more credence to this manipulation tactic being used) aside and focused on your birthday. Sorry.”
Your intuition may sense that this elaborate apology is not genuine. However, since they said the magic words, you are essentially left with nothing more to say or you will find yourself trying to control their fake anger. When this scenario plays out, do not accept an apology that is as real as their true intentions. If you do accept the apology, you have just been emotionally manipulated. If it does not feel genuine, it probably is not. If you allow yourself to be emotionally manipulated that one time, the emotional manipulator will see that it can be used as a successful method of getting what he or she desires.
The person presents his or herself as a willing helper.
A person that acts as an emotional manipulator plays the part of someone who is willing to help out with any given task. If you ask for their help with something, he or she will be more than willing to agree. If you did not ask for their help, he or she will volunteer to help with any given task. Seeing an offer for help looks like a wonderful thing, but in the mind of an emotional manipulator, this is merely a tactical move in order to fulfill a selfish desire he or she has.
If you accept their offer to help, he or she will express their unwillingness to help by letting out several sighs that are loud enough for you to notice, or some other non-verbal signs that let you know they actually do not want to help you with whatever it was they offered to help with. You will notice this and tell them that it does not seem as if they actually want to help, and this is when he or she begin their main manipulation efforts. He or she will show their great will to help you and that you are being unreasonable.
They say something but later assure you that they did not say it at all.
This is one tactic that you can see being used in many aspects of society, perhaps the political sphere being the greatest user of this. If you constantly feel like there may be something wrong with your memory recall because you remember one thing and the emotional manipulator “remembers” another, then be cautious. Those who have mastered the “art” of emotional manipulation are experts in justifying their actions, turning things around against you, and rationalizing situations. It is as if they have graduated The University of Lying and are incredibly skilled in passing off even the most ridiculous lie without giving any hints that he or she is being deceitful.
They can be expert persuaders to the point that you begin to question your own memories and sanity. To combat this technique by the emotional manipulator, keeping a log of what he or she says is a good start to having definitive proof that he or she is lying right in your face. It does not matter how you go about doing this. It can be in the form of having another person with you when the manipulator is saying whatever it is they are saying, writing it down, recording it, etc.
They put you in a guilt trip.
Emotional manipulators are experts in the craft of guilt-tripping. They have the ability to make you feel guilty either for not speaking up, for speaking up, for not showing enough emotion, for showing too much emotion, for not giving and/or caring enough, and for giving and/or caring too much. There are no lines that the emotional manipulator will not cross in order to put you in a guilt trip. This person will very rarely exhibit any real needs or desires he or she has. Instead, emotional manipulation is the game they play in order to get these needs and desires satisfied.
Combined with guilt, sympathy is a very powerful tool to manipulate your emotions. The emotional manipulator is excellent at playing the victim. They stir up your will to support, care, and nurture them. These individuals very rarely do their own dirty work, so to speak. They are able to make you do it for them and when you do (through indirect means) they will say that they never expected or wanted you to do anything at all.
They are indirect.
By taking the passive-aggressive route, emotional manipulators are able to deal with things indirectly. Actions in this category include talking behind your back, getting others to say to you what they would not say themselves, and finding subtle ways of letting you know they are unhappy. They will tell you things that you want to hear, but then do something to undermine that. An example of this would be if the manipulator says that “of course I want you to go back to school baby and you know I will always support you.”
Fast forward to a night where you are either studying for an exam or perhaps finishing a project for work and your children (if you have some, that is) are throwing temper tantrums, the television’s volume is set really high, and your pets need taking care of – all the while “honey” is sitting on the couch looking at you blankly. If you were to call them out on this, they will likely say something like “well you can’t expect life to just stop because you have an exam or have to finish a project for work can you dear?”
They always seem to have it worse than you.
This tactic is pretty straight-forward. No matter what problems you may have in your life, the emotional manipulator always has problems worse than you. They shift focus from your problems to their supposed problems (which almost never exist in the way they claim they do). If you sense that they are not being genuine and are just trying to shift the focus of the conversation on themselves in order to satisfy an egoistic desire, they will display feelings of being deeply hurt and will call you selfish. Yes, they will call you selfish, when in reality it is they who are selfish. Every day is Opposite Day for this emotional manipulator.
They are able to lower the positive energy of others around them.
Given the interconnected nature of human consciousness, everyone affects everyone else. This reality is able to both benefit and hurt us. If an emotional manipulator is in a room with others who are feeling fairly content and positive, the manipulators’ low level of consciousness will negatively impact all the others around his or herself. If they are angry or sad, others will begin to feel these emotions creep up into their consciousness and bring them down. The instinctual result of this is that others will try to bring the energy level back up by trying to make the emotional manipulator feel better.
They have no sense of accountability.
Emotional manipulators do not take responsibility for their own actions. They always turn around a situation to see what others have done to them. An easy way to identify an emotional manipulator using this tactic is to see if he or she attempts to establish intimacy via the early sharing of what is considered very personal information that is the kind that makes you feel sorry for them.
You may at first feel that this individual is very sensitive, emotionally open, and perhaps even a little vulnerable. This is precisely how they want you to perceive their actions. Emotional manipulators have emboldened their ego to such great heights that they practically never feel vulnerable.