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Zero time for Manipulation

There is a blurred line between being persuaded and being manipulated.

Manipulation is a form of control and is usually a behaviour of someone who might not know how to ask for something they want in a direct way. You may have experienced manipulation from a friend, family member, or an employer before – or, you might have behaved this way yourself.

Some ways that manipulation may occur are through:

Gaslighting – is where you might find yourself doubting your thoughts and feelings. A manipulator will use this technique to make your opinion not seem valid by either making it about them, or make you feel like you are in the wrong.

An example might be you confide in your friend about a joke they made about you, their response might sound similar to something like this: “you sound crazy right now!” or “you’re just too sensitive – it was nothing” or “It was a joke – where is your sense of humour!”

Negging – is where a manipulator might use a backwards compliment to gain your confidence and approval of the manipulator. This tends to usually end up with the manipulator using this to their advantage where you feel obliged to do favours for them.

An example might be where someone you’re talking to or dating might use comments like “wow you’re so pretty with makeup on” or “I love when you shave your face, you look way more handsome” – these comments have hidden negatives within in them, and over time, can make you feel like you are not adequate enough, and they may even motivate you to change those aspects about you.

Emotional blackmail or withdrawing friendship – this is where the manipulator will behave upset and unpleasant until they get their way.

An example may your boss calls you on your day off an asks you to fill in. You tell them that it’s your day off and you would like to decline the offer, they might respond with, “well we could really use your help…” or “it’s pretty frustrating you can’t help out when we need you”

One of the best tips we can provide is to find a way to create some space between you and a manipulator.

It’s important that you set boundaries for yourself and be prepared to enforce them. For example, it might be not answering your phone outside of work hours, walking away from that person, and trying to not draw yourself into their dramas.

While we are here… let’s all remind ourselves that we are not responsible for other people’s emotions (however you can influence them) and that it is okay to just say ‘no’.

Hint: if your ‘no’ is never accepted the first time, then this is a red flag that you are being manipulated.

So, what about if you are the one who can’t take no for an answer? Could some of these examples reflect your own behaviour?

Some signs you’re being manipulative include:

  • Struggling to see other people’s choices and opinions as equal to your own.
  • Acting deceptive to get what you want.
  • Blaming other people when things go wrong.
  • Taking an argument to a higher level of intensity or hostility.
  • Regarding other people as much weaker than you.

When it comes to you being the manipulator – what you say, and how you behave can have a huge impact on someone else’s behaviour. So, a good way to overcome manipulative behaviour is to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Consider recognising their needs as equal to your own. A little empathy can never go wasted.


Support is never far for our staff and students at UNE.

Our team at Advocacy and Welfare offers confidential support to students! You can contact us here.
Student Success also has confidential counselling for students, you can find them here.
Lifeline is also a 24/7 hotline and you can call them on 13 11 14