Many of us experience strong needs to control others. We want others to see things and do things our way.
We want to sell them something. Shostrom (1968) described several types of manipulators:
Wants to control others by orders, i.e. by virtue of his/her authority,
position, status, or rank. Such a person believes he/she knows what is right and what you
Controls or defies authority by using his/her weakness, sometimes in
powerful ways, such as "Oh, I forgot," "I didn't understand," "I just can't do it," or
"I'm so nervous." This is passive-aggressiveness.
Sees the world as a contest of wits. He/she is constantly plotting,
conning, pressuring, persuading, selling, seducing, or trying to outwit others.
The clinging vine
Wants to be cared for, dependent, submissive, and faithful.
As a helpless, grateful, cuddly child, he/she gets others to do a lot for him/her.
Uses his/her anger, toughness, viciousness, and threats to intimidate others
and get his/her way. The "tough guy" and "the bitch" are common characters.
What can you do about being manipulated?
First, recognize what is happening.
Second, stand up for your rights. Think and decide for yourself; assert yourself.
Build your self-esteem so that you are not overly dependent on others.
What if you are the manipulator?
Controllers or manipulators use five basic methods of persuading or influencing others
(Kipnis & Schmidt, 1985):
(1) Carefully stating the reasons and logic for changing,
In a second study, Schmidt and Kipnis (1987) found that the "steam rollers" got
the lowest job evaluations, contrary to what is taught by some Business Schools.
Male "steam rollers" were disliked even more than female "steam rollers," contrary to
the common notion that pushy women are the most resented. Sexism does occur, however,
when you ask, "Who got the best job evaluations?"
"Rational" men and "Pleaser" or "Onlooker" women!
(2) assertively reminding and urging someone to change,
(3) soliciting others to support your proposals,
(4) going over someone's head to get support from "higher ups," and
(5) working out a deal so you get part of what you want.
Naturally, different leaders use different methods:
- the "steam rollers" go for broke and aggressively use all the methods--
they won't take no for an answer, and may even threaten, shout, and demand,
- the "rational ones" rely only on hard facts, logical analysis, careful plans,
- the "pleasers" actively persuade others but mostly "politic," focusing
on offering "pay offs," flattery, and personal charm, and
- the "onlookers" mostly stay out of the controversy.
Conclusion: men's ideas and women's quiet pleasantness are valued,
not women's ideas nor men's pleasant passivity.
Note what methods you use to influence people in different situations.
Consider the possible advantages of using the rational approach.
Nasty aggressive tactics put others down while soft tactics may put you down.
Practice relating to others as intelligent, reasonable equals and in a manner
whereby both of you can be winners.