Knowing how to respond to a manipulator or other character-disturbed individual is key to avoiding being taken in by them. In my last post (see: Questions about Manipulators: How to Respond to their Tactics?) I pointed out how important it is to never accept an excuse for any inappropriate behavior. I also made the point that not accepting an excuse is one major way you can keep the focus of responsibility where it belongs: on the person displaying the inappropriate behavior. But excuse-making is just one way manipulators try to deflect responsibility, and it’s just as important to know all the ways they’ll try to do it as it is to respond to those tactics in a manner that keeps the focus where it belongs.
In my book In Sheep’s Clothing, I assert that manipulators are at heart fighters, albeit covert ones. That means they actively jockey for the one-up position and the tactics they use are designed to help them secure or maintain that position. So, the most important thing to to remember is that no matter what tactics they might use, be it evasion (dodging the issues you want to bring to their attention), diversion (shifting the focus off their behavior and onto someone or something else) or externalizing (blaming someone or something else), you must always keep the focus on them and their irresponsible behavior. Character-impaired individuals do their best to shift responsibility elsewhere. Your job is to keep the ball of responsibility solidly in their court. This is one of the prime “tools of personal empowerment”: keeping the weight of responsibility where it belongs: on the person exhibiting the inappropriate behavior. So when you feel yourself going on the defensive, recognize it’s because the tactics covert fighters use are meant to make you doubt, hesitate, second-guess, and back-peddle. In your heart, you know it’s them, but manipulators do their best to make you think it’s you. And succumbing to their tactics is how manipulators gains control. It’s up to you to recognize their tactics and to keep the focus on the person displaying them. That’s a major key to empowering yourself.