How to stop being manipulated starts with knowing you are being manipulated. Everyone has been manipulated at some point in their lives and it can be anything from praise to guilt, to a reasonable request.

How do you know if you are being manipulated? The first step is to have a mind of your own and be aware of the fact that humans want what they want. Yes, even when they don't know what they want and they use guilt, flattery and other tools to get it.

Being aware of the fact that you can be manipulated is halfway done to not being manipulated any longer. In this article, I will explain how to stop being manipulated and I will also share some more simple tips to protect yourself from being manipulated.

First of all, what is manipulation? Manipulation is a type of social influence that aims to change the perception or behaviour of others through underhanded, deceptive, or abusive tactics.

The intent behind this kind of influence is to "manipulate" one's opponent, or to somehow benefit the manipulator, often at the expense of the victim.

Manipulation can be broken down into two sub-categories:

  1. Direct and
  2. Indirect.

Direct manipulation occurs when a person is being manipulated into a particular action without their knowledge. In indirect manipulation, on the other hand, information about target behaviour is being concealed from the target.

Signs You Are Being Manipulated

1. Subtly trying to shut down your mind from making decisions

We are all manipulated or are being manipulated every day, so let’s get that out of the way. 

The salesman manipulates us to pay double for an item; a guy who isn’t ready for a serious relationship but assumes the roles of a boyfriend, questions you when you make a decision but refuses to be accountable for his own actions.

You can't get too close to another guy, he gets jealous, but when he gets cosy with other ladies, he makes you feel like he doesn’t owe you any explanation. It’s all manipulation.

“Manipulation is an emotionally unhealthy psychological strategy used by people who are incapable of asking for what they want and need in a direct way,” - Sharie Stines 

We all know what it means to force people to do things against their will. It is highly unfair, people should have the right to make their own decisions.

I remember when I had to go into an emergency delivery cos my baby’s heartbeat was going down, even at that critical point, I was asked for my permission, they made sure I was 100% fine with going for a cesarean birth.

They made me sign that I’m giving them the consent to go ahead.  I’m talking about a matter of life and death here, c’mon  Anyone who is trying to rob you of the chance to make a decision in any critical matter is obviously trying to influence you, so make sure your mind is alert and you are making decisions you want or the ones you give consent to. 


2. When your values, goals are being questioned deceitfully.

Manipulators are excellent at gaslighting. It is their area of expertise. They cleverly want to talk you out of what you believe. They may play their cards well, however, not perfectly.

You will always get a hint somehow. Carefully crafted statements just to dissuade you about what you firmly believe in. This happens well when there is a risk involved especially. Watch out for phrases like; “you have to, it will all be alright, nothing is at stake.”

These are the common slangs of manipulators. They try to question your thinking, your memory, your sanity just to make you take a risk such as signing a gig contract, sending a huge sum of money, quitting your job, relationship or something significant.

Whenever you detect things like this, it’s very likely you are about to be manipulated. Always stay true to your convictions and goals no matter the consequence. If you are convicted about something, it doesn’t matter whether it is right or wrong. What matters is staying true to it.


3. Manipulators never want you to read them

It’s important to know that manipulating or being manipulative is a natural phenomenon. For instance, being an entrepreneur also means that you will have to manipulate things in your favour.

The manipulations we are strongly against are those with evil intentions. Agreed? One character every manipulator displays is secrecy. They do not want to be read and they avoid every opportunity for dialogue or questioning.

This is an important tool for detecting a manipulator. When you have an agreement or a negotiation with people and you sense a form of “avoidance,” it’s clear they are in to take advantage of you.

It’s either they are avoiding a subject, or dialogue but yet they are interested in what you offer. They want your deal but they are subtly avoiding something. Then you may just be about to be manipulated.

In any matter, discussion, event, we need to be able to read others. We need to read their intentions and motives like a book.

We need to be very smart, intelligent and be a step ahead of anyone whose intention is to manipulate. Such people come to ruin our business, our career and us.

We must protect our minds and guide our choices in every instance to ensure we are not manipulated. 


4. Manipulators AKA “LIARS”

If manipulators cannot destroy your career or your business, then they would attack you emotionally.

They do this by forming a very tight bond with you. If the person involved is a male, he could come looking like he wants a relationship with you. If the persona is a female, she will act as the “best friend” character.

Their intention is always to buy you with lies. They will always be very careful about being caught telling lies.

They know once they do, they’d be busted. So they tell very intelligently, well-crafted lies. In order to have you believe their lies, they try building a strong relationship with you to earn your trust. 

To uncover their real intentions, here’s what to do. First, you need to be careful because you don’t know what these manipulators are after.

The best thing to do is to play along with them while doing a critical underground study about these characters.

Seek advice from those who know them and are familiar with their families etc, however, this must be done confidentially. If your findings do not match what they claim to be, they are manipulators and possibly they might have been planted.


5. They try to make you invest in their cause

As a female entrepreneur, always have your goals, needs and want clear. In cases where you abandon your business and entrepreneurial goals just to attend to someone else’s goals, call yourself to order.

Manipulators have a tricky and deceitful way of making you abandon your goals and visions and start to chase theirs.

When you notice you are investing a lot of capital, time into someone else’s cause at the expense of yours, it is a clear sign that you have been manipulated.

Sweet talks intended at making you invest in another cause that isn’t yours but looks very profitable is nothing but an attempt to manipulate you.

Be careful. It takes a good deal of manipulation to make you channel your resources to building another person’s business at the detriment of yours.


6. Pretence

Every manipulator has to be a good pretender. They do this by faking their intentions. However, if you are very observant, you will find disparities on their actions, demeanour, and communication.

Some manipulators are so perfect that you hardly notice or suspect them for any reason. As a female entrepreneur, take note of fake names, fake documents, out of the moon stories.

The first step to uncovering a manipulator is that they’d come most times with fake names. Try verifying the names of your negotiators, business partners, and people who suddenly show up around you for a business deal.

In cases, where you discover a faked identity, you may have just encountered a manipulator. When you suspect a person is pretending. Try verifying their identity. You may request the person’s data.

Try verifying this data to see if it is correct. It may be difficult but it’s totally worth trying.


7. When you are subtly approached for a business partnership

If you have ever worked together with someone to secure a common goal such as winning a contract, watch out for manipulation.

It’s a common thing when two people tirelessly seek a goal and yet, one party wants everything to themself. In such cases, watch out for manipulation.  

Now, if things fall out along the way and your partner blames you for every misfortune that happens, even when it is clearly not your fault, watch out for manipulation.

When your partner shows up moments when things are good and is absent when there is a pressing responsibility at hand it’s possible there is manipulation somewhere.  

If your partner claims the glory of something they clearly didn’t achieve, they obviously have been manipulating you throughout the journey.


The hardest Part...

Now this is the hardest part of this topic here, so far you probably have identified one or more manipulators in your circle and that’s okay, but how about you do a self-check, no, let us do a self-check cos it’s easier to point fingers at people and list things they are doing to us without admitting the impact of what our own actions are doing to others. 

You want to make sure you aren’t negatively manipulating someone around you. If you recognised yourself in some of the points I mentioned, it will be nice, to be honest with yourself and ask deep questions as to why it feels okay to be manipulative.

Then put yourself in the receiver’s shoes. The only thing in life that’s constant is change, you can change and you should but if it’s a struggle to change, see a therapist. Seriously, Do.


Deeper Dive:

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What To Do?

If you find yourself in any of these situations, it could be that you're being manipulated. If you think you're dealing with a manipulator, there are several ways to not let them influence or control your actions and words:

1) Don't feel obligated to do something for someone if they haven't been helping you.

2) Don't be afraid to say NO when someone's asking for too much from you.

3) DON'T BE AFRAID TO WALK AWAY !!! It will only get worse if you allow yourself to stay in a manipulated situation, since manipulators never give up until they have what they want.

4) Protect yourself, your loved ones and your values. Be careful who you trust with personal information.

5) If the manipulator is successful in making you feel guilty, don't think it's because of something YOU did or didn't do. People that manipulate others are empath-deficient (they lack empathy). They only feel the need to control others in order to feel better about themselves.

6) Don't give away your power ! The only person that can make you do what you don't want to is yourself (and manipulators know this). By giving them too much space, time and trust you're also giving away your own power! Remember: THEY CAN ONLY CONTROL YOU IF YOU ALLOW THEM TO!

7) Manipulators often target people that are less assertive or confident, since they can easily be manipulated. If you're dealing with a manipulator, don't hesitate to work on your self-esteem and personal confidence. You will then be able to protect yourself against manipulative behavior much easier (and this also applies if you recognize yourself as a manipulator).

8) Stay alert. Remember that people who are trying to manipulate others are often great actors and actresses. They know your weak spots and they will take advantage of them. Intelligence is their best weapon, so never underestimate an opponent! This means you should stay critical about everything that happens around you, and by doing this you'll become less manipulable.

9) Manipulators often use secrecy as a tool in order to control the person they're trying to influence. If you have a secret that is being kept from you, don't give the person responsible for the secret any more power over your life!

10) Manipulators may try to make you feel guilty about actions or words that they initiated themselves. If someone is trying to make you feels guilty, say something like "you shouldn't have done that" or "that was unfair". This will show them that manipulating others doesn't work with you.

how to stop being manipulated

Final thought how to stop being manipulated

It’s a good thing to be manipulated towards a good cause. Your fellow entrepreneurs may manipulate you in taking a decision that will benefit your business greatly. In this case, the intent of manipulation is good, however; do not forget that you still have the right to make your own choices in the face of manipulation, whether good or bad.



More Resources

How to Stop Being Manipulative

About the Author Funmi

Funmi is a Certified Functional Health Coach. She is passionate about helping female entrepreneurs transform from Stress and burnout so they can begin to thrive in their body and, by extension, their businesses. 

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