Evasion and Diversion Tactics
Manipulators like engaging in evasion and diversion. These tactics keep the spotlight off their behavior. They also them to avoid both responsibility and exposure. This artful dance can help them stay one step ahead of you. So, it’s important to confront these tactics head-on.
Agreeable, conscientious folks don’t relish confrontation. They hesitate to call out what their heart suspects. But to avoid potential victimization you have to do exactly that. It’s also how you hold a manipulative character accountable.
How It Works
A woman I’ll call “Sally” came to see me one day. (As always, I’ve altered details in this story to ensure anonymity.) She was concerned. Her husband had previously struggled with pornography use. His use pattern had become a true addiction. And it was impairing intimacy in their relationship. So, he sought treatment in a 12-step program. And he appeared to have made good progress. But he was spending a lot of private time on the computer again lately. And this aroused her concern.
Sally tried to explore the issue with “Jim.” She did her best to be gentle but direct. But Jim wouldn’t give her a direct answer. This frustrated her. She had seen this kind of evasion in the past. But Jim hadn’t been evasive in a long time. So, she pressed forward on the issue. And when she did, he changed the subject! She had seen such diversion before, too. And she knew evasion and diversion to be manipulation tactics . But this time she would not be manipulated. She confronted the tactics directly. And she also confronted Jim on what his use of them likely meant. That began an honest conversation. Jim had indeed “relapsed.”
The Power of Benign Confrontation
I’ve written before on the power of benign confrontation. (See, for example: Learning to Confront Benignly and Effectively.) And in Character Disturbance I explain its importance in character-constructive therapy. Before you can deal with any issue, you have to expose it. And if one is to resolve it, one first has to “own it.” That means no evasion, no diversion when the spotlight shines on it. Sally knows this now. And she’s just as gentle and caring a person as she has always been. But she doesn’t let Jim or anyone else give her the slip.
Because Jim doesn’t successfully manipulate Sally anymore, he actually has a true ally in his recovery. Sally had long been his “enabler.” Now, she’s his supporter. He does the work. She reinforces his efforts. A true and positive partnership. If Sally were to succumb to Jim’s tactics, this couldn’t happen. Problems only fester when manipulation succeeds.
I felt compelled to write In Sheep’s Clothing. Too many people had come to me depressed and confused. Misinterpreting their manipulator’s tactics caused much of their confusion. Seeing the tactics for what they truly are changed things. And refusing to let any tactics sway them empowered them. Their sense of empowerment only increased as they became more confident in their ability to confront benignly.
22 years and 3 revisions later, the book remains a bestseller. Word-of-mouth is the main reason for that. And that makes me most grateful. Soon, the book will be published in yet another foreign language. I’ll announce that debut in about a month or so.
I’ll be posting my new speaking schedule soon on the Seminars page. This year, PESI sponsors and organizes my workshops.
Character Matters will feature a replay of an earlier program April 1, 2018. I’ll be celebrating Easter with my family that day. Sorry, you won’t be able to call in live to chat. But you can still enjoy some good conversation. And don’t worry, we’ll be back live April 8. I can take your calls then.