Can you avoid being manipulated? Just as it is possible to play with someone’s mind, it is also possible to avoid being manipulated by using psychology as a shield. Manipulative people are everywhere and it is sometimes inevitable to meet them, whether it is a boss, a partner, or a”friend”who tries to influence your opinion and your perception of things in order to force you, sometimes without you realizing it, to also change your way of acting or thinking. It’s a common thing that happens every day, it’s done by big companies that want to sell you something and even your dog (with those sad eyes he uses to entice you to give him more treats, or even your innocent toddler who wants to eat a cookie before dinner. We all fall into the panel from time to time, it is quite normal for many people to want others to think or act in a certain way, and some people are much more vulnerable and susceptible to manipulation than others (such as those who do not dare to say no so as not to hurt others). A lot of things end up having an influence on what we think, do or buy, but the manipulation makes you feel like you don’t have control over your own decisions or have been deceived in some way (like when you start believing crocs are cool just because Kanye wears them), and that’s why it’s important to be prepared and have the right tools to avoid falling into the panel.
How to avoid being manipulated?
According to Jennice Vilhauer, of Living Forward and Psychology Today, manipulation is a very common strategy, but there are simple tricks to deal with it and regain control (as in the Harry Potter movies, when Rogue teaches Harry to close his mind to avoid Voldemort’s influence).
Be aware and observe how you feel
According to psychologists, manipulation is usually a source of discomfort (for the manipulated person), which can lead a person to be angry, defensive, or even experience unexplained feelings of guilt. This feeling is a red light that tells you that you may be acting in a certain way because someone is trying to influence you, and it is by recognizing this that you will be able to cope better with the situation.
It’s about paying attention to what the other person is saying and trying to understand their motivations. It’s not the same as someone who just wants you to understand his point of view, someone who actively manipulates you to change yours. Listening will help you understand what the other person is looking for and better respond to what they are saying.
Maintain your control framework
The framework is the perspective you have developed based on your experiences and values, and keeping control means simply asserting yourself, recognizing that what you believe and want is valid even if others disagree, and not letting a different opinion crush that. It’s normal to listen and change your mind, but you need to take the time to make sure that what you’re going to do is in line with your own values, ideologies, and experiences.
Think and validate
Let the other person know that you understand their point of view and that it is valid. The other person may not know that what they are doing is manipulation and many react with even more pressure and aggressiveness when they believe that others do not understand them or do not listen to them.
Stick to your guns
This is about making your position on an issue very clear and not letting someone else destroy it. Sometimes the best way to escape manipulation is to show one’s position and come to the conclusion that no agreement will be reached. It is important to be open to dialogue and listen to others, but also to defend one’s own ideas and learn to turn around and walk away when you notice that someone is actively trying to manipulate you.