What is manipulation and how can I recognise it?
“When I, as a child, scream, my mother comes in and comforts me even if I'm faking”, says Avelina Martinez-Löffler. “We’ve therefore learned that we can use this strategy to achieve something, and it often continues to work very well in a great number of interpersonal encounters.”
The counselor says there are always two parties: the person who manipulates and the person who lets themselves be manipulated. In the case of what is known as open manipulation, the other person is mostly aware of it, but allows it to happen.
“The fundamental topic is always that I make other people responsible for my feelings and my happiness and then try to blackmail them on an emotional level,” says Martinez-Löffler. There are often also hidden messages that people want to express with their emotional statements. Many people are not able to say what they actually want, for example young mothers who do not want to look after their babies round the clock but cannot say so directly.
In the first step, it is therefore important to recognise that more personal responsibility for yourself and your own needs may achieve the objective more quickly. To do this, we need self-reflection, as is the case for so many other topics too.
It is also important, however, not to let any psychological strain occur, because even if you recognise that you are manipulating or being manipulated, you should recognise that this is a common type of interpersonal communication. It is only your own assessment of it that makes it something negative. “People can also think it’s cute if someone cries crocodile tears in order to get something,” says the expert.
If you would like to talk to a professional about the topic of manipulation, agree a free appointment at one of the numerous Austrian family counseling centers.
Our interview partner
Avelina Martinez-Löffler is a family and educational counselor at the Parent and Child Center in Schwaz, Tyrol. She studied law before qualifying in marriage and family counseling, and is a life counselor, educational advisor and social counselor.
The interview was conducted in November 2021.