In our understanding of the world around us, we are restricted by the framework of our knowledge and beliefs. When we try to make sense of other people’s behavior, our minds rationalize to avoid cognitive dissonance, or contradicting beliefs, sometimes resulting in unrealistic perceptions. The decisions we base on those perceptions will be ineffective or inappropriate at best, while in a worst case scenario; they could lead to a lifetime of misery or death.
Dr. George Simon, author of In Sheep’s Clothing—Understanding and Dealing with Manipulative People, presents this list of 14 tactics that manipulators use to get you to do what they want. He points out the importance of recognizing that these tactics are offensive moves employed by the covert-aggressive to either maintain a position of power, gain power, or remove an obstacle from getting what he wants. You’ll be better equipped to deal with manipulators if you are familiar with this list of tactics and able to identify them when you encounter them:
Denial – playing innocent, refusing to admit they have done something harmful.
Selective inattention – playing dumb, or acting oblivious; refusing to pay attention to anything that might divert them from achieving their goal.
Rationalization – making excuses or justifying their behavior, often in very convincing ways.
Diversion – changing the subject, dodging the issue, distracting us from the real problem.
Lying– deliberately telling untruths, concealing the truth, lying by omission.
Covert Intimidation– intimidation through veiled threats.
Guilt-tripping– using the conscientiousness of their victim against them to keep them self-doubting and anxious.
Shaming– using subtle sarcasm and put-downs to make the victim feel inadequate, unworthy, and anxious.
Playing the Victim role– playing the innocent victim to elicit compassion.
Vilifying the Victim– making the victim the “bad guy”; pretending he’s only defending himself.
Playing the servant role– disguising their personal agendas as service to a nobler cause.
Seduction– flattering and overtly supporting others to get them to lower their defenses and be trusting.
Projecting the blame (blaming others) – shifting the blame, scapegoating.
Minimization – a combination of denial and rationalization, “making a molehill out of a mountain”.