Manipulators and Covert-Aggression
Manipulators are mostly covert-aggressors. That is, they get the better of you by carefully cloaking their aggressive intentions. They convince you they’re only trying to help when they’re out to control. They make you think they’re the injured party when they’re attacking you. Your gut tells you they’re only trying to get the better of you. But because they know to convince you otherwise and how to charm, you doubt your instincts. And that’s how they subtly get you to cave in to their wishes. (For more, see: Manipulators Are Covert-Aggressors.)
Covert-aggression is an effective strategy. Manipulators know this well. If you you knew without a doubt what they were up to, you’d be less likely to be duped. That insight and hundreds of case histories led me to write In Sheep’s Clothing. And that book has become internationally recognized as perhaps the definitive work on the subject. But manipulators actually come in two varieties. A few manipulators are more overt aggressors. And they rely on a strategy other than deception to have their way.
Overt Aggressor Manipulators
Both overt and covert aggressors count on one thing: the characteristics of their targets. For the most part, covert-aggressors prey on those they know as good-natured and conscientious. So, they’re likely to press your guilt and shame buttons to advance their agendas. But some aggressors simply count on what they know to be your main personality characteristics and your core emotional issues. They know you and what makes you tick. Perhaps they know you better than you know yourself. So they can predict how you’ll respond to certain types of attack.
I remember one case where a man’s core issue was abandonment. His mother had deserted the family when he was quite young and he never got over it. And what he yearned for most in life was to feel safe and secure, especially with a woman. He would do anything to fend off the possibility of desertion. His wife knew this well all too well. So, for years she used the threat of leaving to keep him in line. In another case, a woman struggled with chronic low self-esteem. Her minor disability made her feel undesirable. Who else would want her, she often wondered. And her husband used his knowledge of this to get whatever he wanted from her.
The Keys To Empowerment
You empower yourself when you know yourself and the issues that make you vulnerable. And you empower yourself further when you know the tactics manipulators use to exploit your vulnerabilities. But perhaps the greatest empowerment results from your determination to define the terms for engagement with you. Aggressively-predisposed personalities will always fight for what they want. But when they know how firm you;ll be with limits and boundaries, it changes the game.
I’ll have more to say on the keys to empowerment in the next few posts.
Character Matters will be broadcast live Sunday, June 25, 2017 at 7 pm EDT, so I can take calls. Join the discussion at (718) 717-8296, (501) 258-8326, or Skype at georgeksimon.
As always, my sincere thanks for recommending this blog and my books to others.