Monday, December 4, 2017

Slices of Truth

The word “manipulative” gets thrown around a lot in the world of mental health and addiction. It can be very unfair to simply just label another person as “manipulative” as if it’s a black or white (yes or no) issue by saying that some people are completely manipulative while others aren’t manipulative at all. Rather, it makes a lot more sense to look at manipulation the same way as we view many other behaviors: as occurring along a spectrum with varying degrees depending upon circumstances, motives and overall intent.

One thing in common is that all of us want to get our needs met.  So if an individual is simply trying to get their needs met that is does not automatically qualify as a form of “manipulation” in the pejorative sense. What qualifies an action or behavior as manipulation is the tactics someone is willing to employ in order to get their needs met. Based on this perspective, if an individual is willing to use unfair or unethical means to get their needs me, then that would then fall under the umbrella of “manipulation” Still, when it comes to what is actually considered to be ethical and fair there can be a debate from one person to another so still there always may be some gray area when determining if a behavior is manipulative or not.  Nevertheless, there are some tactics for getting one’s needs met that are more clear-cut than others from an ethical perspective and therefore are tell-tale signs of manipulation. Let’s consider just one example – The manipulation of information to get one’s needs met in an unfair or unethical manner:

The Manipulation of Information: Twisting, altering, modifying, misrepresenting or selectively withholding information in a deliberate or deceptive manner in one’s own favor in order to elicit or evoke one of the following:
  • To confuse or create a diversion from the truth
  • To elicit strong emotion in others in order to trigger a desired behavior from them
  • To cleverly appear to be a victim to evoke sympathy and assistance from others
  • To make others feel guilt or shame so that they will alter their behavior in a manner that is favorable to one's own insincere motives
  • To delude or mislead others to accept an unfair deal or agreement

Questions for discussion:

How have you been a victim of any of these examples of manipulation? – When describing, try to include how you felt (Try to use feeling words)

Self-searching – Have you ever used any of these tactics? (Group should refrain from passing judgement as just about everyone has been manipulative at one time or another in life)

For a more complete and in-depth group activity focused on manipulation and getting one's needs met - Click here to view (Printable format for group)