Rationalizing – Manipulation Tactic 2

Manipulators always have an answer for the hurtful things they do.  No matter what you confront them about, they’ll offer an excuse that seems to justify their behavior.  When manipulators rationalize, it’s not the same as when a person of generally good conscience tries to assuage that conscience by finding reasons to think what they did wasn’t really that bad when they’ve done something wrong.  Rather, when manipulators rationalize, they’re mostly trying to manage your impression of them.  They’re trying to convince you that they meant no harm in the first place, that they had no choice but to do what they did, or that they did what any reasonable person would have done under the circumstances.  This is to mislead you about the nature of their intentions as well as the nature of their character.  Like lying, which I posted about earlier, it’s simply a tactic, and one of many tools in the arsenal of weapons they employ to get the better of others and resist accepting responsibility. 

When a person rationalizes for something they know is wrong, they’re also making a statement about how they feel toward the principle at stake.  For example, when a person continuously attempts to excuse their belligerant behavior, they’re making a statement about how they feel about the wrongness of bullying.  They’re also sending a clear signal about how likely they are to do the same thing again.  As long as they continue to excuse their behavior, it’s likely they’ll repeat it.  That’s because they haven’t submitted themselves to a different principle of conduct.  That’s why it’s so important to never be swayed by or accept an excuse.  Not only do you get manipulated, you put yourself in the position of having the same thing done to you again that you found that you took issue with in the first place.

22 thoughts on “Rationalizing – Manipulation Tactic 2

  1. What are some good “comebacks” to manipulators when they start to rationalize? Something easy to remember and short and sweet I suppose?

    1. “Coming back” with any remark at all only feeds the cycle. They know why they’re rationalizing, and that it’s not appropriate. You don’t have to say anything in particular in response, merely indicated in all ways possible that when it comes to an inappropriate behavior, you accept no excuses.

      1. How can you have any discussion with such an individual then? Anytime you provide a reason as to why the behavior is hurtful, Unacceotable, etc…you may be met with a reply by the manipulator that “it’s your view” to feel as you do and that they refuse to admit their hurtful, mean or rude gesture or thoughtless act as being inappropriste. Therefore resulting in no ownership on their part and or accountability. A no win scenario that never resolved.

        1. M,

          “No contact” is easy way out on how to discuss things with such an individual.
          Other option is to become amateur psychologist and try CBT for short period of time and monitor for sign of life.

        2. M,

          These people are not normal, you will never have a normal healthy conversation. You may as well give it up. You won’t get an apology. He will always get the last word, and you will always leave the conversation feeling anxious, angry, frustrated, perhaps hurt and insulted and belittled. No Contact is the best way to go for your own peace of mind. You’ll get used to it once you start it.

          1. M,
            You may get an apology, however, when the apology comes from a DCN the apology comes with hidden strings attached. Meaning, the apology will cost you in the long run, only the future will provide the answer to what payback you will receive for the apology.

  2. I don’t think every situation warrants a no contact action.

    When a hurt is being minimized I want to keep the topic on point and since a “comeback only feeds the cycle” then what does one say?
    Dr. Simon writes “You don’t have to say anything in particular in response, merely indicated in all ways possible that when it comes to an inappropriate behavior, you accept no excuses.”

    Please explain what those indications look like. I’ve spent a lot of time on this site looking for an answer to this.

    1. Not sure if this helps your situation or not, SYdNeY, but what I did was address the manipulative behaviour: so I labelled it with the kind of behaviour it was (minimization, deflection, impression management, etc), said “Nice try, but your manipulation tactics aren’t going to work anymore.” He responded with more rationalization, etc, I labelled it all again, said I couldn’t be bothered to waste my time and energy on discussions with him.
      So, I didn’t discuss the “issue” we disagreed upon. I focussed my come back on the tactics he was using to try to “win” and “blame” me. He quickly gave up ! This breaks the cycle. I am not caught in it, I just reflect it back to him what he is doing and even ask questions of him, put the pressure back on him to look at his own manipulation tactics.
      In the past I would have got caught up in trying to argue facts, logic and memory with him. But no more. I don’t look at the surface content of what he says, I look at his hidden agenda and attack that. But this was all through email, so I had time to reflect and study his tactics and create a good response.
      Later, when he approached me at a public event, all friendly like nothing happened in the past, I shut him down with: “you are still full of shit” and walked away. He is still full of shit, because he continues to avoid personal growth and reflection on his dishonest and narcisscisstic behaviours, not just with me, but with anyone who happens to cross his path.

      1. Anne,
        Yes your insight does help and I’d approach it the same way as you did when I’d be interacting via email but I’m interested in what a dialogue would look like face to face.
        If I could reflect someone’s behaviour back to them I would like it to be short. The more the manipulator denies, minimizes and deflects I’d like to repeat my sentence or question.
        What is that sentence or question I would put to them is what I’m asking. I do not want the word manipulation used in it either.
        I hope I make sense.

        1. I know what you are asking. I guess it would depend on the person and the situation. Some kind of rhetorical question comes to mind. I used “why do you hate yourself so much?” And I meant it in a compassionate way (there was a history to that question), not in a smart ass way, I wanted this person to reflect on the internal processes driving their behavior. Instead, the person became enraged and attacked me. Obviously, I triggered something with that question.

          1. BTOV,

            I’m not referring to one incident or one person. I’ve allowed hurtful behavior to slide because my mind has gone blank, then I regret not saying something the most. I want to find a go to statement.

            When a manipulator says “you took what I did/said the wrong way”, “you’re too sensitive”, “I didn’t mean to hurt you”, “I didn’t know it would happen like that” or you see rolling of the eyes or making a phht noise while describing an incident or putting an opinion forward is when I have a mind freeze.
            I’d want to respond to this minimization, denial and or deflection by saying something to keep them on point, to answer and to not wander off into another territory.

            If I want to make someone accountable for their manipulative behavior I want to do it in a non-confrontational way and in a way that I am not accepting of their excuses. I think of these people as “benign manipulators” not manipulators that I need to cut out of my life. I’ve gone no contact with two manipulators in my life but there are manipulators who invade our lives in many ways, I’d like to put “them” in their place and have a comeback that encompasses my opinion of their actions without going into a diatribe about knowing what they are up to.

        2. Sydney,

          It seems they are questioning or telling you how you think or should fee.
          I had someone do this to me, I would respond with “You don’t know what I think or how something affects, you may assume you do, I am letting you know this is how I think and feel, I can’t help you feel otherwise. I try to understand and respect what you say or feel and don’t push my thoughts on you. ”

          There are many adult individuals who do not have the ability to communicate with another. Many times these people t can’t hold a civil, intelligent, understanding mature conversation. This is who they are, they have undeveloped social skills and do not want to put in the effort to advance emotionally.

          I would just tell this person how you feel, if they argue or give you a bunch of gobbledygook, I would state this how feel if you can’t understand or get I can’t help you and walk away.

          I am afraid that when someone is making noises at you and rolling their eyes they are being extremely rude and disrespectful. When someone acts like this the conversation and how -you- feel isn’t relevant to them. Sounds like more of the same CD types that are very shallow and will draw from your positive energy draining you with their immature and disrespectful behavior.

          You just said there are Manipulators that invade our lives, “You like to put them in there place.” These kind of CD individuals are never put in their place, we can keep them back and enforce our boundaries where they know we aren’t going to tolerate certain behavior from them. This will be an ongoing struggle and power play.

          I have a family full of them, I can tell you I decided it wasn’t worth my effort to deal with them hoping they may understand. Regardless, how I address issues they will never agree. My life is to short for me to waste on difficult people. You may come to realize this, there is comfort and happiness dealing with mature understanding people and I have no stomach left for this type of interplay.

          I guess I am spoiled, I try to surround myself with mature individuals who make a concerted effort to understand one another and respects their right to disagree. I hope this has helped you and I do understand the dilemma of wanting certain people in your life. It will be a on-going struggle.

          1. SYdNeY,

            I found these on a webpage, and thought they were rather good, and would fit all kinds of situations:

            “Help me understand why you think that was an appropriate thing to say–and why you think I should answer you.”

            “Thank you. We’re all refreshed and challenged by your unique point of view.”

            I was also thinking you could find a short pithy quotation of Mark Twain or Socrates or …. , that might fit your purposes, and would leave the other person trying to understand its meaning.

            Let me know if you find something good. I would like to have a couple of phrases in my back pocket too for those special occasions.

  3. Why would someone who says he is a believer resist taking responsibility for his harmful behaviors. What’s the gain? How do they live with themselves. My husband does this ALL the time. We have gotten no where and he is still insisting that he has made HUGE improvements and efforts to improve. AAARRRRGGGGGHHHHH!!!!!

    1. Susan Kathleen,

      The gain is simple:
      – CD get to indulge in selfish pursuits
      – Meanwhile you cook and/or earn and/or provide sex and/or provide a facade of normal family. Whatever else you think you may provide him.
      – Whenever you resists, it is overcome by all possible means, fair or unfair. I guess this part brings out AAARRRRGGGGGHHHHH!!!!! in you. 🙂

      How do they live with themselves?
      – They are not bothered about others. That includes house, fridge, car, wife, children. A car gone bad, time to dump and change. A wife putting up too much fight and objecting to selfish behavior, time to dump and change.

      He will keep on bringing out AAARRRRGGGGGHHHHH!!!!! from you, as long as he is getting more out of you than he had to invest in you. Maybe you need to cut down the time that you spend trying to explain things to him and instead just tell him what he needs to do in as few words as possible.
      If he doesn’t learn, or if you fail to put up enough resistence, get rid of that vampire before he sucks you dry.

      1. On second thoughts, and what I remembers from other blogs…
        It is not so much conscious decision about “not useful, dump and change”, it is more about keeping the upper hand always, no matter what is the long-term cost. It is about preferring “winner of the day” over “loser of the life”.

        1. AndyD,

          Your second thought is very true. Another factor one has to consider, the CD may be dependent on the relationship and does not want to leave. My X didn’t want a divorce, he didn’t want me to leave. Rather what it turned into was a struggle of continually trying to hold my ground. Boundaries were met with hostility and even more subtle covert gaslighting.

          The one thing that was extremely important was I didn’t confront him in any manner with his behavior. The only time I disagreed and said there was something very wrong, the CD accused me of being crazy. We call that defining ones reality. I too, didn’t realize how deep all this was, I knew it was bad, how bad would reveal itself over time. Under no circumstances did I let him know what I knew. I had the Key, the wild card, I advise… Never show your hand….

          In the CD mind the ultimate control is for you to become no less than a slave. One may as well prepare themselves to become a zombie, these CD emotional vampires will ultimately destroy you. I mince no words on how deeply sadistic their warped minds are and become even more so over time.

          One only has to follow our Lucy’s story, and read the archives of so many others who stayed, way to many years. I know of a few who changed, retaining some of their twisted thoughts, their stories are of extreme tragedies that provoked some change. Believe me you don’t want to waste your life waiting for this type of change.

          Some of the CD I have dealt with have hit enormous bottoms and still refuse to look inward. Dr. Simon talks of our investment and the slot machine always hoping the next coin will be the winner. However, it never comes, we keep losing more precious years of our lives.

          The day comes and one looks in the mirror and realizes its hopeless. The question becomes, can I or do I want to live the last days of my life being treated less than human, an object, a nothing? Unfortunately, the reality is, we are nothing but an object to be used by the malignant narcissistic sociopath psychopath ie… a Spath. (Spath is a idiom used by a former poster Puddle) an excellent term.

          One may think they have the time and gumption to wait, as harsh as it may sound, the sooner you leave the CD the better off you will be in the end. If you are able to “PLAN” your exit, think out a strategy and protect your assets because the CD will steal and or destroy anything so you end up with nothing.

          Living with a toxic CD over many years will put a strain on your health, believe me the last thing you want to do is get sick and become a burden, the CD detest weakness and their instincts are predatory. I will let you come to your own conclusion on what I have said and your specific circumstances.

          I encourage you to keep posting, there are many supportive people here who understand and are more than willing to validate and support.

          Take care and blessings

  4. To Anne,

    Thanks for the comebacks I like them both and they are easy to remember. I have a knee jerk reaction problem that is a work in progress to get a handle on. I need to wait and think before I say something so I’d like to say “could you help me understand what you meant/mean by what you just said/did”. I know this risks a denial or deflection but the statement still puts them on notice.

    I have to say after reading about the situations I see some posters in I’m a lucky girl. I cannot imagine being married to a CD or having children with one. The two CDS I went no contact with were a sister-in-law and a brother but not married to each other. I refuse to defend my feelings to anyone else anymore and I’m much more relaxed mentally because I will never see them again.

    I come back here periodically when a situation arises and I appreciate the input . Thank-you.

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