Operator Speaking by Zachary Constantine
 

On Dealing with Manipulative People

2008-08-09 05:48:15 // The Operator
Tagged:
 

A wise piece of general internet etiquette reads: “Do not feed the trolls.” One would do well to remember this…

… but what of the petty, manipulative people you meet in your everyday existence? What of the pathological liars, the drama queens, the shifty gossips, and the parasitic leeches who pass themselves off as salesmen?

I do not know the solution – how they may somehow help themselves – but I can say with absolute authority on this matter, to those affected by manipulative people: get them out of your life.

I was looking for a way to segue into an exposition on predatory sales and marketing tactics after reading What I Learned Buying a Rug in Turkey (still working on Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior – a book which categorizes emotional loopholes which rob people of rational thinking).

So, to preface the following, I present the lessons from the Turkish Rug Merchant (these guidelines are textbook-grade material for the manipulatively-minded):

  • Reciprocation: we try to repay what another person has provided us
  • Commitment and consistency: we desire to be consistent with what we have already done
  • Social proof: we tend to rely on what other people are doing to determine our own actions
  • Liking: we tend to go along with and follow people we like
  • Authority: we feel a sense of duty to follow someone who has authority
  • Scarcity: opportunities seem more valuable to us when their availability is limited

- What I Learned Buying a Rug in Turkey
by Mitchell Weisburgh
2007-01-03

Now, to the grist of the post…


Protecting the Guilty: The following text message conversation is provided with one omission. A name has been removed. If you were a party to this conversation, you can rest assured that no one else knows exactly who you are.

… but the clever ones may very well make educated guesses.


Background: Unnamed works in sales. (Or did, last time I checked)

Unnamed has been romantically involved with several people with whom I have had long acquaintance. For my part, I tried to be tolerant. I have had multiple discussions with those of my acquaintance regarding the negative influence Unnamed had upon their lives, especially following Unnamed‘s “desperate cry for help”.

The event in question happened loudly, aggressively, and in perfect synchronization with Unnamed‘s then-ex-boyfriend’s attempts at dating others. Apparently, Unnamed wanted him for her company still.

Unnamed‘s ploy effectively brought her then-ex-boyfriend back to her side… it was clever enough, but we all know that one who truly intends to die does not call others to say “I’m going to kill myself now” before unleashing razors and pills.

Unnamed has gone on to interfere in my own romantic relationships, when she decided she would be “best friends” with my girlfriend at the time. The sheer volume of “let’s be friends” messages and calls seemed disproportionate, given that Unnamed had never spent much time getting to know her.

I knew this was coming sooner or later, I just did not expect it to be so virulent…

A Hard-Selling Ophelia versus The Operator

2008-08-08 16:26PM

Help me

2008-08-08 16:27PM

Who are you and what is needed?

2008-08-08 16:28PM

I an Unnamed and i an broken. Not that zak Would acre. But i need Help. Where do i find it?

2008-08-08 16:29PM

What happened?

2008-08-08 16:33PM

Nothing happened. I just can’t Help me stop me from me. Not that that makes any sense

2008-08-08 16:35PM

If you need an ambulance I can call one for you, but I will need your address first.

I hope you’re not bleeding all over someone’s carpet.

Again.

2008-08-08 16:37PM

I don’t need an ambulance. I need mental help not physical.

2008-08-08 16:40PM

Sometimes you need an ambulance for those, too. I know I have been for a few rides.

2008-08-08 16:43PM

I have too. I don’t need an ambulance. I just need support. Which is why you are the wrong person to have asked

So… why did you start text messaging me during work hours on a Friday? The “Help me” message is the first I have heard from Unnamed in months.

2008-08-08 16:45PM

Yup. I cannot claim perfection, but I will claim to know that you are the only person who can fix you. Maybe you just needed to hear that?

This is advice I would give to anyone who had attempted suicide. In the case of other would-be dead people, I have never had to – most are embarrassed to burden others with such foolishness.

2008-08-08 16:47PM

Read ‘If you Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him!’ by Sheldon B Kopp

2008-08-08 16:49PM

Sure! How many Times have we heard that? What difference Does it make. Really?

Why all of this capitalization… is it for emphasis?

2008-08-08 16:49PM

Okie!

2008-08-08 16:51PM

The difference between being in control and being helpless for life. The weak endure what they must, the strong do what they can.

2008-08-08 17:01PM

Zak?

2008-08-08 17:04PM

Yes?

2008-08-08 17:05PM

Help. You are the only one as crazy as me.

2008-08-08 17:07PM

Everyone is crazy in a different way. When you say ‘Help’ is there something in particular that you expect?

2008-08-08 17:11PM

I don’t expect anything. I WANT.

2008-08-08 17:12PM

What do you want?

2008-08-08 18:38PM

Zak.

Saw that coming a mile away.

2008-08-08 18:39PM

?

2008-08-08 18:52PM

I want Help. I need to be put back into one person. I am shattered and try as I might- i can’t fix me

2008-08-08 18:53PM

Shattered.

2008-08-08 18:56PM

Hello? Why Did x

2008-08-08 18:57PM

I know you think I am somehow part of your little equation, but I am not. You have imposed unforgivably. Lose my phone number and seek professional help.

2008-08-08 18:57PM

Hello? Zak

2008-08-08 18:57PM

Hello? Zak

2008-08-08 18:58PM

Fuck off.

2008-08-08 19:01PM

What is your problem? You have looked to me for Help enough Times in the past.

2008-08-08 19:01PM

What is your problem? You have looked to me for Help enough Times in the past.

A lie. How novel.

Reciprocation: we try to repay what another person has provided us

2008-08-08 19:02PM

So i think you are one of the few people that Can understand my derangements.

2008-08-08 19:04PM

I am right- as you are as broken as me. We have shared Times that you block from your memory. But don’t for one second judge me

I must have forgotten? No, I recall that you started lying a moment ago.

2008-08-08 19:07PM

I don’t want anything. I need Help. And I’m scared.

From “WANT” to “don’t want anything”… oh, now it’s about your needs? Clever girl.

Commitment and consistency: we desire to be consistent with what we have already done

I agreed to help already – or did I? What is this Capital-”H” “Help” (as opposed to regular “help”?)

2008-08-08 19:10PM

Zak. I’m Sorry. I’m So scared. Everything is closing in around me and i don’t know What to do! You do?

2008-08-08 19:17PM

I have Nothing to loose i texting you. You used to be one of my most valued friends. Now you are a figment of my imagination. Wit happened?

Valued friends? Another lie, but it still counts toward:

Social proof: we tend to rely on what other people are doing to determine our own actions

She is asking a friend for Capital-”H” “Help”? I’m having some difficulty reconciling all of these inconsistencies with reality.

2008-08-08 19:18PM

I want Help. I want someone Who understands me.

Liking: we tend to go along with and follow people we like

… or those who feign liking us.

2008-08-08 19:22PM

Life lesson number one: No one cares about what you want. Now, if you will excuse me, I am changing my phone number.

2008-08-08 19:29PM

Go for it. no one cares about you either.

Flattery didn’t get you where you wanted it to, eh?

2008-08-08 19:31PM

No one who matters, anyway.

Okay, I fed a troll.

2008-08-08 19:37PM

No one period. people try for you zak, you just never try back. And people abandon you for it. Look at you life. What do you have to show? Nothing. Like me.

Scarcity: opportunities seem more valuable to us when their availability is limited

In this case, false scarcity. Sadly, people like Unnamed are a dime a dozen…

… though few match raw, unbridled manipulative intent.

Unnamed is a reasonably attractive woman (though, borrowing from Frank Zappa, “What’s the ugliest part of your body?“).

Her “damsel in distress” ambush would work on most any male who did not have some concept of her past exploits and the damage she has wrought in others’ lives… and she knows this. This act was her trump card.

Unnamed and those like her are gangrenous limbs: they must be amputated from society before they infect others.

Deal with the manipulative people in your life. Dispense with the bad blood in your family, the ones who use their filial ties as part of a guilt trip. Create as much physical space as possible (you know, before the Earth’s curvature works to your disadvantage and you start getting closer again). Leave no forwarding address. Change your phone number. I know I will.

Any manipulator who has his or her act together has a good shot at politics, and it is likely that people whose moral compass is skewed in the way Unnamed demonstrates are already running this show.

Manipulative people have taken the time and effort to learn how to deal with those around them. Learn to recognize manipulation and defend yourself.

9 Responses to “On Dealing with Manipulative People”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    It makes me smile to know she’s miserable and that there’s someone she “reached out to” that won’t play her game. MWHAHAHAH

  2. Stryker Says:

    I just randomely stumbled across this fantastic journal entry of yours. GOOD on you man! You dealt with that amazingly.
    As a girl I can recognize these manipulation tactics from miles away, yet you men are SO easily fooled by them.
    I’ve watched friends, and even my own boyfriend fall victim to whimsical bitches looking for a little excitement.
    I think it’s horrible and wrong, and any girl who attempts these sorts of emotional war fare are most certainly “gangrenous limb that must be amputated from society before they infect others.”
    well said, well said.

  3. Kathryn Says:

    Overall, this is a great article, because it helps open eyes to the fact that some people are manipulative and need to be handled with caution. It gives some great signs to look for.

    However, I do have to take issue with the statement “but we all know that one who truly intends to die does not call others to say “I’m going to kill myself now” before unleashing razors and pills.” In a lot of cases this may be true. But there are a lot of tragic examples of people taking their own lives who DID cry out for help and were dismissed as being “manipulative.” Maybe they were to some extent. But suicidal ideation should always be taken seriously. This doesn’t mean that you need to get over-involved personally. This is what I would say to this person.

    “I care about you and want to help you. What is your address?”(Don’t mention the ambulance yet. If they think you are going to come personally, then so be it. What they think doesn’t matter at this point. And yes, I do think we should care about everyone on a basic human level.)

    Hopefully at this point they will give an address. Then I would say “Okay, ____________, here is what I am going to do. I can see that you are feeling really bad right now. I am afraid of what might happen if you don’t get the help you need. I’m going to call an ambulance right now and send them to your address. I’ll stay on the phone until they arrive.”

    (Call paramedics)

    At this point they can continue trying to manipulate you or whatever they are going to do, but you are going to try not to rise to any bait. You can just keep saying things like “I know you are upset and that’s why I’m getting help for you now,” and “I just want to make sure you are safe.”

    Once the paramedics arrive, your involvement ends. If anyone tries to contact you about the situation, tell the basics of what you know (w/o the emotional theatrics) and then tell them that you do not wish any further involvement, even if the patient should request it. You are within your rights to do that, and the person will still get help from competent mental health professionals. THEN…..

    You can change your phone number!


  4. If there is some sick conspiracy to keep miserable people alive, I want no part in it – one’s life is ultimately one’s property and how others choose to handle their property is hardly any concern of mine.

    Remember: No good deed goes unpunished and unhappy people are their own reward.

  5. Kathryn Says:

    Did you ever think that maybe the reasons people are miserable might be a little more complex than that just that they want to be miserable in order to ruin your day? It is an important skill to be able to know when someone is manipulating you, but to have such a brazen attitude towards the lives of other people show that you have some problems of your own. What if there was someone who was suicidal in your own family? It happens way more than you think and no family is immune. Would you, or would you want others to take the same position you have taken in the above statement? I doubt it. In a way it is good that you have so little understanding of depression because it means you haven’t experienced it yourself, but that is not a reason to remain ignorant and push your own self-congratulations (that you have never experienced it) onto others at their expense. Don’t leave your soul at home when you walk out the door in the morning.


  6. Did you ever think that maybe the reasons people are miserable might be a little more complex than that just that they want to be miserable in order to ruin your day?

    Anyone can come up with a reason to be miserable but there is never a valid reason to use one’s misery as a bargaining chip in a bid for sexual conquest. Did you actually read the entirety of the post?

    What if there was someone who was suicidal in your own family?

    Advice to my suicidal friends and family members has always been: “Don’t fuck it up and cripple yourself.”

    If someone truly wishes to die, that is his or her business – I would not prioritize my attachment to another person over his or her own wishes.

    Again, perhaps you did not read the entirety of the post. It’s no secret that I have problems of my own and have taken ambulance rides (and rides in police cars) to the hospital as a result of various breakdowns and self-inflicted violence.

    If I have learned anything from the years I’ve suffered from clinical depression, it is this: hold no sympathy for the devil.

    Please feel free to comment further upon familiarizing yourself with the material you are presently failing to interpret.

  7. cynthia Says:

    hey i am a first timer ive been with my boyfriend for about 3 years i have 4 children and only two are his ok we use to have a great relatonship but then here lately he has got very mean and maniplulative he calls me names and say really mean stuff to me i really dont no how to deal with him at all sometimes i no im not purfect no one is but he blames me for all his anger and i could use some tips on how to deal with things thank you


  8. Tips:

    1. Make better life decisions in the future – for starters, seek professional advice instead of mine.

    2. Check your spelling.

  9. Anonymous Says:

    Wow… borderline much?

Leave a Reply