The Heart of Assertiveness
We’ve been talking about the fighting we all do in our daily lives. And I’ve pointed out the importance to our character of learning to fight rightly and fairly. Assertive individuals fight for their legitimate wants and needs. But they fight with principle and care not to needlessly injure. They respect the rights and needs of others. And they fight fairly and with sound purpose. But the manipulators among us fight unscrupulously and underhandedly. They also fight for strictly self-serving purposes. And that kind of fighting always damages relationships.
The Heart of Manipulation
Manipulators are covert-aggressors. They fight in ways that make it difficult to clearly see their aggression. They’re out to win, dominate, and control, to be sure. But they don’t want to be seen that way. So they cloak their aggression. If you knew what they were really up to, they’d run a higher risk of being resisted. And if you knew what they were really like, you’d be more wary of them. That’s why they hide their true nature and true intentions. Manipulators are the proverbial wolves in sheep’s clothing.
Covert aggressors know that if they can convince you they’re doing anything but fighting, they’re more likely to win. And they count on the conscientiousness of their victims. They prey on those with a sound conscience. They know, for example, that folks with a big conscience are sensitive to guilt and shame. So, if they can make you feel guilty or ashamed, they’ll hold sway.
Manipulators and the “Gaslighting” Effect
It’s not easy to see the inherent aggression in the tactics manipulators typically use. So victims often experience what has come to be known as the “gaslighting” effect. Dealing with a skilled manipulator can make you feel crazy. You know in your heart there’s something not right about them. But their artful use of tactics has you thinking you have the problem. Manipulation (i.e. covert-aggression) is truly crazy-making behavior. (See also my other articles on gaslighting and the gaslighting effect.)
Learning to Manipulate
We’re all natural-born fighters. But we have to learn when and when not to fight. And we have to learn how to fight rightly, fairly, and with principle and proper restraint. That’s why heeding the “8th commandment” of sound character development is so important. Manipulators unfortunately over-learned the benefits of covert fighting. They found deceiving others about their true intentions the best way to overcome resistance and have their way. And they became too adept at fighting subtly and stealthily. They learned well that certain tactics would likely bring a conscientious person to submission. And bringing others to submission is just the way aggressors – both overt and covert – like it.
A Few Extra Words
I’ll be departing from the current topic next week in lieu of the holiday and the importance of it’s message.
Character Matters will air live this Sunday, November 20, 2016 at 7 pm Eastern Time. You can also download the podcast at UCY.TV or on YouTube. Call in at (718) 717-8296 and join the conversation. With the election now behind us, there’s lots to talk about!
Many regard In Sheep’s Clothing as the definitive guide to understanding manipulators and how to deal with them. And you can learn more about the effects of gaslighting on relationships in How Did We End Up Here?