Some thoughts on manipulation.
Manipulate: to control or play upon by artful, unfair, or insidious means especially to one's own advantage
Manipulation is a science. It, like other skills, can be practiced. People who manipulate don't stick with old material; they find newer, more complex ways to manipulate people or situations. That is a scary thing.
I consider my encounters with manipulative people both detrimental and beneficial. Detrimental in the sense that because manipulation is a twisted way of gaining control, I have at times become trapped by some people's manipulative words. Beneficial in the sense that I have become able to often recognize when people are being manipulative. Thus, it helps me to better understand that person's character. I can not only avoid getting sucked in, but can distance myself from that person. Because people who manipulate have an agenda. They have motives.
Why is it that people use manipulation? Because it empowers people. It helps them gain control. Often times people who are manipulative have had traumatizing experiences in their lives, or have had some destructive or negative event take place in their lives that they cannot control. Or they were just born with certain misfortunes that they cannot help. So they find a way to gain control to compensate for their lack of control in other areas of their lives. They discover the art of manipulation.
Sadly, however, there are those who have made personal choices that result in a loss of control. Take some alcoholics, for example. We have all heard about alcoholic husbands or boyfriends that get so drunk all the time that they start beating their wives/girlfriends, and even kids. They are out of control when they do this. But they CHOSE to drink. That CAN be helped. But even though they chose to drink incessantly and consequently became wasted out of their mind, there is still a need to gain back the control. So they threaten their victim with more beating if the victim ever reports it to the police, or even tells anyone, for that matter. That is manipulation.
But why is it that people even need control? Yes, we want to be in control of our emotions, and be in control of the decisions we make and the person we choose to be. But why do people feel like they need to control others? Or control situations? Because it is a form of validation. When someone is able to manipulate a situation or person and is successful, it is a boost of confidence. It says, "You have power." It is an insidious and pathetic way to feel good about themselves.
Manipulation is destructive. People who are victim to it often feel insignificant, enslaved, powerless.
I believe, though, that we are all manipulators to some degree. I know I have used manipulation to get what I wanted before. We all do it; we just aren't always aware that we are using manipulation. And even though manipulation is used for personal gain, it doesn't always hurt someone else. People can use it on someone without meaning any harm on anyone else. But, (this part is key) just because they don't mean any harm doesn't mean that the result of their manipulation can't cause harm. In fact, I would say that most times it is harmful to a friendship or relationship. I personally have felt resentful toward people after recognizing their use of manipulation. Resentment, obviously, is not healthy in a relationship or friendship.
Thankfully, there is a better, safer, and truer alternative to manipulation. It's called, honesty, love, and a willingness to communicate openly. It works wonders in conversation between two people in some sort of relationship. Manipulation destroys, weakens. Honesty, love, and clear communication builds, strengthens, and fortifies.
But is there a good form of manipulation? The only good example I can think of is manipulating my hair to do a certain thing when I'm dealing with a cowlick.
Bottom line--stay away from manipulative people. Their mindset is often " me, me, me". And DO NOT use manipulation. I have come to find that being honest and open has amazing effects. It builds love and trust. It can make us feel vulnerable, but I promise, it will have good and lasting results.