Uncover the powerful tactics of manipulation

Anolene Thangavelu Pillay is a psychology adviser.

Anolene Thangavelu Pillay is a psychology adviser.

Published Jun 2, 2024



Have you wondered why certain conversations leave you foggy, causing you to doubt your thinking? The Digital Age has reshaped the way we interact, think and direct our everyday conversations.

The number of digital connections surpasses the number of in-person connections signalling a tectonic shift in networking paradigms. Conversations have become more dynamic, accessible and influential, reaching new heights. However, it is not without challenges as we frequently interact with diverse personalities, all with their unique intentions.

Having the interactions can often feel sheltered or even beneficial but what happens when someone else’s intention is secretive and their tactics are manipulative? Psychology delves into the secretive world of manipulation to uncover the ingenious, yet powerful, tactics of manipulation.

Manipulation can manifest itself in various aspects of our lives including public spaces, personal relationships or the workplace. This article spells out how manipulative tactics are employed unethically to influence our perceptions, decisions and emotions.

Awareness of group pressure. Our innate tendency to belong and be accepted by a group is what makes this type of social manipulation effective. Findings that extend the traditional understanding of social conformity into the Digital Age show that our moral judgements are influenced by our beliefs and the views of others in online settings.

Video conferencing often results in individuals conforming to group opinions on moral dilemmas, similar to behaviours in in-person interactions. Pressure can be visible and indirect. If others in your group hold a certain opinion, you might feel compelled to do the same. To resist group pressure, it’s essential to develop confidence by being aware of your identity and values. Opt for a group that demonstrates respect for your individuality, intellectual diversity and personal beliefs.

Detect those excessive compliments that seem innocent. As you enter the realm of exaggeration, recognise the context and frequency of excessive compliments. If compliments are often misaligned with reality and occur frequently, there are probably hidden motives. Sincere compliments are typically precise and relevant to the situation, while excessive compliments often seem unclear and artificial.

Emotional manipulation is the act of controlling another person’s emotions which might not always be evident. Although it is often disguised as a concern to divert your attention, you can discover a pattern of incongruence between their words and actions. Upon closer scrutiny, the seemingly harmless words or actions weave your thoughts into a web of doubts and fears.

As with passive aggression, manipulators avoid expressing negatively and instead find indirect ways to express themselves. Recognising the interactions can heighten your understanding of every emotion that moves you, whether they are disappointed, scared, sad or happy. Honest communication and boundaries allow you to open or close the door at will to alter the dynamic.

Detect logical fallacies, arguments that involve leaps of logic that result in unwarranted conclusions. A logical fallacy happens either intentionally to manipulate others or unintentionally due to implausible reasoning. Arguments might appear to be a source of protection and truth but as you assess them, you sense deceit.

When you hear an argument, asky ourself: Should I accept what I hear to be accurate? Is it addressing the central point? Am I being deceived by appearance? Is this based on reliable evidence or assumptions or should I look into the evidence behind the arguments to find the truth? To create a more productive dialogue, focus on facts and logic in your conversations to stay on the path of reason and truth.

Detect psychological manipulation or gas lighting. The manipulator creates an imbalance of power by altering the narrative or contradicting your memory of events while refusing to acknowledge the truth to shift blame. Detect when others attempt to raise doubts about your memory, perception or sanity, causing you to question your reality.

The manipulator has the ability to distort facts to alter reality. Detecting gas lighting is a matter of trusting your intuition and memories. Probably something is not right if it does not feel right. To validate and overcome painful experiences, use a journal to document events, conversations and your feelings. If you detect a pattern of denial behaviour, create coping strategies and consistently execute them to progress.

Even as the digital realm dominates, the weight of in-person interactions will not diminish entirely. Staying the course and knowing how to navigate are essential in the art of conversation. To have a conversation that matters, rely on your instincts and intuition instead of external influences to detect and alter manipulative tactics.

Being manipulated allows the poison to slowly infiltrate your mind, causing you to doubt yourself. If conversations are not productive or constantly veering off course, to clear the fog of confusion, why not resist being swept away by the current of irrelevant topics by challenging the manipulative intent?

Anolene Thangavelu Pillay is a psychology adviser.

Daily News

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