The best way to know if you are being manipulated is to pay attention to the tactics of manipulation, and record instances when you think they are being used against you. Once you record the instance, put the journal down and step away. Clear your head and then come back to the entry later. Attack your entry and poke holes in the argument for why you were being manipulated. If the entry stands up to criticism, you are probably being manipulated. If it doesn’t, keep the entry for later. It might be nothing, but it might be a subtle mark of future manipulation that someone is plotting against you.
- Motive – Figure out why they could be acting a certain way. If the behavior only happens when you are alone with the person, ask yourself why. If it only happens around other people, ask what they could be trying to accomplish.
- Frequency – Does the behavior repeat itself? What are the common conditions where this person does this behavior? Do they keep asking you prying questions?
- Reaction – When you tell them to stop, do they stop or keep going? This is the best way to find out if someone is manipulating you or scheming against you. If they stop, or the frequency significantly declines, they were probably just being manipulative on accident. Often people accidentally treat you the way they have been treated. If they don’t stop, they are signaling that they don’t care.
- Keep A Record– Keep track of the tactics they use. See the bullet point below for examples of tactics that are use by people who scheme or plot.
There are a few markers that are left behind when someone manipulates. Keep track of these and write them down when they show up. They will help you know if someone is plotting or scheming against you.
- How do you feel when you are around them? Do they build you up or tear you down? Feelings aren’t always reliable but they can be trusted in some situations. Try applying logical reasoning to attack and defend your feelings. See which wins.
- Do they undercut your ability to think, reason, or decide for yourself? This is a typical controlling behavior where people try to make someone think they aren’t capable or qualified to make decisions on their own. Manipulative people need weak and vulnerable people to attack. They often use the hurt and rescue technique which is when a person causes a problem and then shows up as the savior to fix it.
- Do they shame and guilt trip you? Manipulative people often want you to do something that isn’t in your best interest. Since logic can’t persuade you, they rely on other techniques to coerce you into action.
- Are they overly focused on getting you to feel a certain emotion? Emotional reasoning is preyed upon by manipulators. Beware of people who seem overly concerned with making you feel one of the 6 emotions. Fear in particular is a commonly used strategy by manipulators.
Learn to resist an interrogation. There are a few tips here, but strongly consider not speaking or going on the offensive.