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Putting Manipulative People In Their Place

Dr. Giles's Blog

Reflections from Dr. C. Scot Giles, the Consulting Hypnotist and practice owner at Rev. C. Scot Giles, D.Min., LLC

Putting Manipulative People In Their Place

Charles Giles

Human beings are social creatures. We have evolved with a desire to get along with others. Therefore, if someone asks us to do something a very deep part of our minds wants to cooperate. 

At my workshops and classes I often demonstrate this using a gadget that hypnotists have used for hundreds of years. It is called a Chevreul Pendulum.

A Chevreul Pendulum is merely a weight on a short string or light chain. The string or chain is held between the thumb and forefinger and involuntary muscle movements in the fingers cause the pendulum to swing one way or another. People use pendulums for many purposes. Perhaps you remember the childhood game of a needle hanging from a thread that was supposed to tell you how many children you would have? That's an example.

Hypnotists have developed a way to use it to probe a client's unconscious mind. You ask a lightly hypnotized client a question and the pendulum swings in a way that gives a "yes" or "no" answer. The answer is coming from the client's unconscious process and it is possible to get a surprising amount of information this way.

However, to demonstrate how deeply human beings want to cooperate with each other I will ask a participant to hold the pendulum. Then I ask the pendulum itself to move forward or back, and it almost always does. There isn't hypnotism involved with this as the participant is not in trance. Nor is there any spiritual power involved. What is going on is merely the deeply seated desire of a social creature to go along with the herd. 

I use this demonstration when teaching people how to resist manipulative people. Manipulative people are very good at exploiting the desire to go along with others. They learn ways to ask for what they want, accompanied by nonverbal behavior that makes it clear they expect you to give it to them. Unless you are very self-aware part of you instinctively wants to give in.

Giving in to a manipulative person is never a good idea. In fact, if you do it once it becomes easier to do it again, and pretty soon someone is taking advantage of you and resentment builds.

The key to breaking this pattern is to remember to say "no" when a manipulative person asks you to do something. However, there are some rules that are good to follow when you do.

The first rule is never argue or explain yourself. A lot of us do this. We decline a request but feel a need to obtain the consent of the other person. Therefore, we will explain the reason for our refusal or provide some other excuse. This is always a mistake. You do not need someone else's permission to decide what you will do with your time. If you explain your reason for saying no, all you are doing is giving a manipulative person something they can use to argue with you in order to get you to change your mind. 

As I teach how to decline this manipulation I suggest that instead of explaining reasons for declining a manipulative request, one simply decline and stop talking. If there is push back from the manipulative person, a simple reply such as "I don't do that sort of thing," stated as if it were some sort of policy is usually sufficient. 

Let me suggest you give it a try!