According to Dictionary.com, the definition of manipulation is:
“…influencing or attempting to influence the behavior or emotions of others for one’s own purposes: a manipulative boss.”
Psychology Today Canada defines psychological manipulation as one person is used for the benefit of the other – there is not a constructive give and take in the relationship.
“Psychological manipulation can be defined as the exercise of undue influence through mental distortion and emotional exploitation, with the intention to seize power, control, benefits, and privileges at the victim’s expense.”
Here is the link to the article: How to Spot and Stop Manipulators by Preston Ni.
Is it Manipulation or Control?
WikiDiff compares the two words when used as a noun:
“As nouns the difference between manipulation and control is that manipulation is the practice of manipulating or the state of being manipulated while control is (countable|uncountable) influence or authority over.“
Here is the link to the site: Manipulation vs Control – What’s the Difference?
So, my conclusion is: manipulation is using someone for your self-serving benefit, control is having authority over someone (usually fear-based) to make them do what you want.
Signs You’re Being Manipulated by Leslie Vernick
Author, speaker and counsellor Leslie Vernick at leslievernick.com has this clear list of what manipulation looks like:
The Guilt Trip
Guilt – If there was one emotion I could ban forever, it would be this one – this nasty, passive -aggressive tactic to play on another’s emotions to get what you want.
Don’t Manipulate to Get Results
To me, manipulation is doing everything you can to get your own way with another person, to get your own desired results. That’s not love. That’s self-centered. Self-serving. Selfish and cruel.
However, in my humble opinion, manipulation is a learned behavior. Of course, this behavior is on a continuum from: an innocent, non-aware way of getting our needs met to master manipulators with malevolent intent.
On average, I wonder how many of us were taught the productive life skills of healthy communication with active listening, empathy and win-win compromise? These skills are usually taught to us by therapists because we’ve no boundaries, anger issues, etc…
Communication and Compromise to Get Results
Love has many healthy, wonderful aspects. A main one, to me, is deepening emotional connection through honest and open communication. This allows each person to be seen and heard, as well as opening a pathway to navigate an outcome that either attains a desired result or a win-win compromise.
Active listening and empathy is a learned skill. So is compromise, when everyone feels happy with the end result. I love Donna Martini’s description of compromise, I think her words describe it perfectly!
I’m not a practicing therapist nor an expert in behavior. I share my own personal understandings and experiences. Strategies such as manipulation and control, when used to get our needs met, creates a toxic relationship. How can love feel supported and nurtured, when emotional games are being played for personal gain or a desired result?
There is a perfect love out there – a love that is perfect for two imperfect people who strive to bring out the best in each other. Manipulation has no place here.
About me: Stephanie Wells
I’m a Reiki Master Teacher of Usui Shiki Ryoho – the Usui System of Natural Healing. I was attuned in Levels I, II & IIIA in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. During a 6 week stay in Mararikulam North, Kerala, India I was reattuned in Levels I, II, & IIIA as well as acquiring my Level IIIB Master Teacher attunement.