How To Steer Clear Of Manipulators

By Judi Light Hopson, Emma H. Hopson, and Ted Hagen Tribune News Service

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Dividing up people into straight shooters or manipulators may help you protect yourself from a world of hurt. If you know someone is a schemer, you can plan accordingly.

Tribune News Service

Do you realize that there are basically just two types of people? There are "truth tellers" and there are "manipulators."

We heard this at a party recently, and it kind of shook us up. We had never stopped to consider what one of our friends was pointing out. We'll call him Roger.

"People are either strait-laced truth tellers, who uphold standards, or they are a manipulator," Roger emphasized.

"But, you won't find a mix. Everyone is either one or the other."

Now, isn't that interesting? At first, you may stop to consider some of the people you know. You may reflect on the idea that people either fit one category or the other. Suddenly, you've got some new insight that just might come in handy.

For example, have you ever wondered why a group of people refused to have anything to do with you? Maybe they ostracized you from the lunch table at work. Or, they never called you when they were going as a group to a convention.

Perhaps, this group might see you as a "truth teller." You're the last type of person they'd want around. Use your imagination here. Are some of them prone to conniving to get someone to do their work? Are some of them looking to have an affair?

Do you see why you don't fit in with this group?

Dividing up people into straight shooters or manipulators, though, will help you protect yourself. If you know someone is a schemer, you can plan accordingly.

"I've gotten into more trouble by telling the truth than I would if I'd lied bigtime," says a woman we'll call Jennifer. "Most of my trouble came by pointing out the lies of other people."

These tips can help you navigate in a world of manipulators:

-Listen more than you talk. Keep in mind that anyone with more knowledge in a situation has the most power. Gather knowledge by listening, not by sharing too openly with others.

-Stop pointing out the mistakes of others. In a room full of people, you'll likely have at least one or two manipulative personality types. If you criticize others, manipulators will betray you as soon as they race to the water cooler.

-Realize that schemers stay several steps ahead. They are actively planning how to get what they want, so learn to beat them at this game. Study people, know the truth, but be careful how you take steps in life. Bite your tongue and be the smartest person in the room.

-Make firm decisions to set boundaries with manipulators. For instance, if you know someone is inviting you to a party so you'll agree to chair a fundraiser you don't care about, get wise. Have a solid excuse for not going to the party. But be cool as you say, "Oh gosh, I'll bet that party will be a lot of fun." Don't lie or act too much, though. You don't want to become a schemer.

One man we know, whom we'll call Frank, says his brother has manipulated women for years. This brother has been married four times. Each woman thought she could crack the code to his heart.

"My brother learned to scheme by watching our dad and granddad," Frank told us. "Manipulators cannot hide their tactics. Their tricks form a pattern, and people start to catch on. It's a sure bet you can also name their victims over the years." ___ (Judi Light Hopson is the Executive Director of the stress management website USA Wellness Cafe, Emma Hopson is an author and a nurse educator. Ted Hagen is a family psychologist.)

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