Posts Tagged 'manipulation'

What is an Enlightened Interaction?

A friend recently questioned my term Enlightened Interaction.  “I don’t know what it means,” she said, “what does enlightened really mean?  Doesn’t every new ager consider herself enlightened?” she asked.I suppose there is a connotation of spirituality associated with the word “enlightened,” which could be construed as superior.  But when I use the term “enlightened,” I refer to awareness – spiritual or otherwise.

Dictionary definitions of enlightened suggest it is a state of being knowledgeable. Definitions include, “…freed from ignorance and misinformation,” and, “…based on full comprehension of the problems involved.”   Spiritual enlightenment, then, is the ability to understand from a spiritual perspective.

Coming at our interactions in an enlightened state, means we are aware.  This awareness of others requires listening and seeing the other person without projecting our beliefs and motives onto them.

Spiritual enlightenment creates an awareness of spiritual truth.  In most traditions, this means seeing another as an equal and a unique and valuable individual.  The interaction based on this enlightenment is respectful and kind.

Intellectual enlightenment, “…based on full comprehension of the problems involved,” creates an interaction grounded in awareness of reality.  This implies acceptance of others as they truly are and not getting confused by our fantasies and desires for the interaction.

An enlightened interaction, then, precludes any abuse, control or manipulation.  It is an honest interaction between people who are presumed to be equals, who strive to perceive and accept each other as they truly are.

This interaction is not the norm for most of us, but I’d like to think the next stage in our evolution would make it the norm.  Compared to dishonest or controlling interactions, enlightened interaction is satisfying and pain free.  If you cannot achieve enlightened interaction in a voluntary relationship, it is probably a relationship you should walk away from.

I hope this is…well…enlightening.

Can You Get Another Person to Change?

The short answer is “no.”

BUT, you can change that person’s behavior – quite a lot – if you know how.

Verbal abuse and emotional abuse are widespread problems in relationships. The workplace bully and the boss from hell are people who have taken emotional abuse tactics to work with them. You can’t always get away from these people, but you can make sure their control tactics affect you less.

There is plenty of information about controlling people and why they treat others as they do. Chances are, if you have to deal with such a person, you don’t care why they are intimidating or critical; you just want them to stop. You probably also know how unlikely it is that such a person could suddenly become happy and kind. You would be pleased if they simply stopped being unkind.

Most advice about dealing with bullies and abusers will advise you to get out of the relationship. This is the optimal solution, but it is not always feasible. In times of double digit unemployment, it may be difficult to leave a job before the boss from hell affects your reputation. It may also be difficult to leave a spouse without financial hardship or the (statistically very real) risk of losing child custody.

But you can change a person’s behavior, if not their nature. There are actions you can take which make you less susceptible to abuse or intimidation. A woman I know changed her behavior at work and had the office bully suddenly asking her out to lunch and wanting to be her friend. Another woman very quickly conditioned her angry boss to express himself far more respectfully. (Note: If you are in a violent relationship, don’t attempt such changes as they could provoke more violence. Consult a shelter; make a safety plan, and a strategy for leaving.)

The most potent defense against bullying is the personal power you project physically. When you project physical strength and power, you send subliminal messages that say, “Don’t mess with me,” regardless of your size, age or gender. Participation in sports helps build physical confidence, but the most effective way to cultivate and project this power is martial arts – even a meditative martial art like t’ai chi.

Make sure you also maintain powerful, centered posture and keep your consciousness in the present moment and centered in your body.

Emotional detachment also prevents you being sucked into control tactics, buying into criticism or accepting inaccurate versions of reality.

Whenever possible, put time and space between you and an emotionally abusive person who is on the attack. Use that time and space to double check their “facts.” Emotional abuse is geared to define you as powerless and incompetent and this may be accomplished with small exaggerations or out and out lies. Check the accuracy of others’ evaluations of you.

Another way to detach, when you find you must be in the presence of abusive anger, blame or criticism, is to cover your solar plexus (above the navel and below the ribcage.) You can fold your hands over this nerve center and it will help you emotionally detach from criticism, blame or anger.

When you are upset and off center, a bully or abuser gets a shot of energy from having power over you. If you detach and stay centered, you deny them that power and you will find that you get a shot of energy from the interaction. Finding it difficult to manipulate you, that person may just take his or her toxic self off to greener pastures.

How to Manipulate and Control Others

If you are an abusive boss or controlling spouse or a manipulative parent, you can greatly enhance any of your control tactics by isolating the one you wish to control, so that the only input they get is from you.
Irene had a boss who was weirdly abusive. Irene found it hard to believe that her supervisor really was manipulative because her machinations just didn’t make a lot of sense. But Irene continually felt a sense of confusion and being off balance which are sure indications that you are dealing with abusive control tactics.

About the time Irene developed an intractable eye twitch, her supervisor gave her two weeks to shape up. Apparently, Irene’s work was far below standard. Irene worked hard to understand what she was doing wrong. Her supervisor couldn’t seem to give her any solid suggestions for improvement.

Irene also asked to buddy up with some of the better performers to see what they did differently. Her supervisor resisted this. In fact, in Irene’s work, it was typical to work with a partner, but she almost always found herself working alone or with someone from a different area who didn’t know her work.

Irene also noticed that she did not receive the same communications as others in her group. If she learned about changes, it was usually by accident. The others in her work group seemed to be doing fine. She felt left out of her work group and became more and more certain that they shared her supervisor’s low opinion of her work.

Eventually, she approached her supervisor’s boss for a reference and discovered that her measurable performance was not substandard. It was above average, though she had a couple of isolated problems. She left that meeting feeling relieved but also confused.

When Irene’s supervisor went on vacation and left another person in charge, it made a huge difference. Communications went out to the entire work group. The group met to handle some urgent tasks. Irene participated. Her work group seemed delighted to see her. They expressed appreciation for her contribution.

This was heartwarming, but also confusing. The group began to open up and talk about things. Most complained bitterly about the supervisor’s poor communication and odd behavior. While she was reluctant to share that she had been counseled for poor performance, Irene told the others a little of her experience. They were surprised.

Several others had similar stories. Irene learned the lesson here. Do not accept one person’s view of reality; especially if it makes you feel confused or out of balance.

Whenever you feel confused, reach out to others and find out what they experience. If Irene’s work group had given her feedback that she was a poor performer, that would have been disappointing, but she would not have been any worse off. As so often happens, their feedback did not support her supervisor’s claims, but validated Irene.

Also, once the team knew that they were being isolated, they banded together to communicate to each other to make up for the supervisor’s lack of communication. Once Irene began communicating with others, she got a realistic sense of her performance that restored her confidence and sense of balance.

It is typical for emotionally abusive people to make efforts to isolate their spouses from family and friends. Hostages are kept isolated so they can be brainwashed. It does not occur to most of us that a supervisor would isolate employees to control them.

A sense of confusion or being out of balance is a clue that you are being manipulated by a controlling person.  You may think you have no reason to doubt the person, but your interactions leave you confused or feeling slightly woosey.  M. Scott Peck in The People of the Lie; his book about human evil, says that the presence of evil always leaves one with a sense of confusion. Pay attention to this. If you feel confusion in response to another person’s claims or assertions, get more information!

If you feel isolated, reach out to more than one other person.

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