A Handy Guide For Dealing With Manipulative People

Last week I encountered three sets of manipulative people. As a result of being raised in a controlling, cultish group (AND THANKS TO TONS OF THERAPY!! :D) I can now easily identify unhealthy, hurtful human behavior. But it's FAR more difficult to establish strong, healthy boundaries. Sometimes "believing the best" about people needs to be tempered with "believe what you know to be true about them," too.

Here are my top three tips for dealing with "repeat offender" manipulators:

  1. Manipulative people make their requests sound like a great, special offer just for you when the reality is, you are the one doing THEM a favor. Whenever a manipulative person asks me to do something for them, I remind myself that I am under no obligation to say yes. And furthermore, I should not feel the need to apologize for saying no. Additionally, I do not owe them any explanation for saying no.
  2. Arguing with a manipulator is like arguing with a drug addict. You're not arguing with the person, you're arguing with the drug. Everything a manipulator says serves their own personal agenda. Instead of making it a personal discussion, deal with them as if you are simply dealing with their vice. You are talking to their drug/vice addiction. You wouldn't apologize to an addict for not giving into their requests, right? If their request violates your personal boundary, the answer is always no.
  3. Manipulative people are accustomed to getting their way. Not only do manipulators want you to say yes to their requests, they want you to say yes NOW. Manipulators usually get angry or vindictive when they don't get their way. To avoid the drama and maintain your boundaries, defer your answer to a later time. Say something like: "I'll have to get back to you on that." When you do say no, say it in the least personal way possible; ie. via voice-message, email or text.

And remember! Don't apologize for your no. (HINT: This is the hardest part). But if you remain true to your boundaries, you'll have your dignity, self-respect AND increased happiness.

Any other ideas for dealing with manipulative people? What are your experiences?