By Chris Simmons
Any attempt to manipulate another individual is directed not against one’s logical/rationale persona, but rather their emotional side. An objective, sterile appeal is inherently doomed because it provides no reason for “buy-in” or commitment. As a result, your adversary (for lack of a better word) must appeal to your emotions in order to gain advantage over you.
The individual seeking to exploit you will almost always target one or more of several emotional themes. The seven “hooks” of manipulation are:
- Ego: “Everyone knows you are the most talented programmer in this company. That’s why you should talk to the boss about all the problems in the new software. She’ll listen to you.”
- Love: “Who told you I was out with John last week? If you loved me, you wouldn’t say that. I would never betray you or do anything to hurt you. I thought we shared something special.”
- Likability: “Don’t start having second thoughts now. We need you to stay the course. Everyone is counting on you. Don’t back out on us. Everyone will be so disappointed”
- Curiosity: “Come on, do it. You only live once! Haven’t you always wanted to be a cliff diver? It will be a rush. You’ll never get another chance to do this. Just do it!!!”
- Intimidation: “What’s your problem? It’s not that big a decision. Stop being a jellyfish and show some backbone!”
- Guilt: “Seriously? You think I broke my old phone on purpose so you’d have to get me a new one? I’m hurt that you would even think that.”
- Fear: “The family that was here this morning really loves this place and they made a verbal offer at full asking price. If you’re serious about this gorgeous home, I need a really good written offer today or it will be gone.”
By recognizing a manipulator’s feelings-based appeal and the “hot buttons” he/she will push, you can avoid being their puppet. Their high-pressure tactics are designed to disrupt your thought process, that is, the integration of relevant facts with self-interest and your associated emotional needs and wants. To defeat their abusive maneuver, remain calm, remove their emotive red herring from consideration, and allow yourself the time to make a reasoned, well-informed decision.