We all revolt at the idea of being used by someone. “He is using me for sex”, “She is using me for my money”…

Humans are social creatures, we evolved to survive and thrive in a group where we supplement each others strengths. If, in a group, there is a healthy balance of give and take such group as a whole will survive and get stronger.

In an unhealthy relationship, or a group you can detect psychological manipulation and exploitation of weaker members with intention to seize the power- give nothing and take everything. The manipulator will attempt to exploit the victim’s good nature, sense of duty or obligation.

It is important to distinguish a healthy social interaction from a psychological manipulation. Here are few manipulation tactics to watch out for:

  1. Distortion of facts. If I asked you: “Did you buy milk today?” There is only one honest answer. Watch out for evasiveness, excuse making, blaming the other party, withholding of key information, exaggerations and understatements.
  2. Intellectual superiority play. If you find yourself in front of an “expert” with all the right facts bulling you into making a decision, it is a good idea to postpone making that decisions.
  3. Raised voice and negative emotions. Have you ever called a company to complain about the product you have purchased? If you did, you were using a form of aggressive manipulation to coerce the company representative to give you what you want.
  4. Negative surprises. This technique is popular in negotiations. The other party unexpectedly receives news that puts you at a disadvantage and asks for additional concessions.
  5. No time to think. If you are caught in a situation where you have to make a decision right away, think the dealership and buying a new car, the other party is trying to manipulate you to take a less attractive deal.
  6. You are made to feel inadequate. The manipulator wants you to believe you deserve less.
  7. The silent treatment. The silence can be used as a form of leverage making you doubt your position.
  8. Deliberate frailty to elicit favors.