Clarity and insights come from many different situations.
I recently ran into a problem with my tenant’s washing machine. This unit is just about 2 ½ years new and shouldn’t really have problems. Sigh…Alas this is not the case. Being the great landlord I am, I called Frigidaire to come and check it out.
I realized after talking with Frigidaire that my warranty was NOT through them but a third party service so I contacted the warranty company and scheduled an appointment to come out.
The repairman came. After pushing buttons for 3 minutes he concluded my cold water hose was clogged, even though he NEVER looked at the hoses. (Was he trying to manipulate me?) When I asked how much it would cost to remedy he told me $240 and was NOT covered by the warranty. I declined his offer of service (although I didn’t quite say it that way).
I talked to my neighbor the plumber who told me it was probably the water intake valve. I contacted Frigidaire again and during our conversation she told me it was probably the water intake valve. I knew of another very reputable repair service I’d used about 7 years before but I couldn’t remember their name to contact them.
I belong to a couple of online networking groups so I knew if I put out the request for the name and number of the appliance repair service I’d used, someone would have it. In my request I asked NOT to be cc’d to anyone as this wasn’t really a referral. There are some networking groups that thrive on (and would just about “kill” to get credit for) giving a referral to someone else in their group. I know this because several years ago I was in the specific group that does this. I got a couple of wonderful responses with the info I needed and one very interesting reply. Here it is:
“Did you know that it is normal referral/business practice to cc the other party when referring someone so they too are not blindsided by an email or call”.
What? When was last time you heard anyone say they were blindsided by a referral? Pleasantly surprised maybe but I doubt blindsided would fall into the category of referral.
As an NLP trainer and someone whose business is all about language, I noticed immediately what her reply was: a response to an objection. She used her response to try and reframe me. In therapeutic circumstances a reframe can help to provide a different context so as to diffuse the emotional charge or trigger that may already exist with relation to the issue. In specific instances a reframe can be empowering.
This woman’s response was for her benefit, not mine. She was likely taught this phrase in the networking group as a way to overcome the objection someone might have to their contact info being given out to the referral.
Her response was manipulative. What she wanted to do was to narrow my choices to only her referral. If she had cc’d the company I’d then have to deal with them and it would make it harder for me to say NO without feeling guilty or bad. I wasn’t having any part of it!
Because manipulation can be sneaky or framed to look like something else, here is my short list of some of the signs.
The situation likely involves manipulation if…
- You notice feeling any sense of fear or intimidation or other negative emotions such as guilt, shame, embarrassment, anger or resentment.
- You “give in” in order to avoid conflict.
- Although it may sound like “it” benefits you, it really seeks to fulfill someone else’s agenda first,
- What is happening causes you to feel like you have NO choice.
- You feel confused, like the Tasmanian Devil whirled in, spun you around and left you thinking “what just happened here”?
Generally speaking, manipulation is learned behavior. We don’t instinctively seek to overpower or control someone unless we feel threatened or out of control in some way, then it can drive our behavior. It can be complex.
So the next time someone seeks to “help” you, notice how you feel about it? Do you feel good? Supported? Empowered? Or do you feel resentment or like you have no say or choice and you were just paid a visit the Tas?
Here’s the rub, when you are manipulated, you seek to regain your control and center and may find yourself inadvertently doing the same thing to someone else. It’s OK. The next best action is to just notice that’s it’s happening so you can make a different choice the next time.