Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Dodging Trolls Who Are Trying to Control You

It’s an election year and you’re being manipulated. Political pundits and candidates on both sides of the aisle are bombarding you with manipulations to get you to give them what they want i.e., a job and power over your life. It’s just the way it is. I’m not saying either side is right or wrong, but I urge you to just examine the message and ask yourself the question, how is this dude trying to get me on his side? Is he trying to inspire me and tell me that we have the power to succeed in whatever capacity, or is he trying to sway me using the verbiage that would have me wake up in a cold sweat and screaming in the middle of the night from the threat of imminent doom.  Either way, you’re not getting the entire truth. Just listen to the message and ask yourself, what does this kid want? No matter your political affiliation, the bullshit salesman stopped by offering samples.

It’s not just politics. The world is filled with all kinds of people who will try to get you to do things for them, things that they either can’t be bothered to do or are unable to do. We all could use some assistance from time to time, of course we could, no man is an island and so forth. That said, the absolute best way to go about getting this assistance, at least from me, is to be straightforward and ask for it. It’ll save everyone involved, time, energy, and guilt. I will help you if you’re genuinely in need, but I’m weary of being manipulated.

I used to be the guy who would go the extra mile, throwing myself right under the bus if it meant someone else’s life just got a little bit easier. Perhaps it’s my nature, or maybe it’s because I’m trying to redeem myself for all that crap I got away with when I was younger.  Whatever the reason, my motives are now entirely selfish. I get to feel good about myself and I won’t feel like such a douche when I’m having the “Well, what had happened was…” conversation with Saint Peter.

Here’s a few manipulation tactics. Please keep in mind the effectiveness of these tactics is a direct correlation on your ability to tolerate awkward situations and imbalance.  If you can’t deal with awkward, you’re gonna get taken. It’s that simple. Ambivalence is your best friend.

Are you really sorry?
You’re not, are you?
You know these folks, we all do. Apologies fall from their mouths like teeth in a trailer park. They sneeze and say I’m sorry. Any favor being asked of you is prefaced with deep regret.  They’ll launch into an anecdote, but first they have to apologize. It’s at that point that I immediately leave the room. I would have the same reaction if someone started espousing the joys of their particular fundamentalist religion or elaborate on their encroaching wedding. I’d rather have a cat spray me in the face.

Here’s why they do it. By immediately apologizing, they are putting you in the position of being the perpetrator and they, in turn, are your victim. It’s awkward. You’re a good person, you wouldn’t wish any ill will on anybody, especially someone who thinks they’ve done something untoward to you or put you out in some way.  So, in the spirit of establishing balance, you now have to give them something, a favor, your attention, etc. This process spares the apologizer from directly asking you for the favor or whatever and also the pain of rejection they will undoubtedly feel when you tell them you’d sooner sit on a hot curling iron and wriggle than lift a finger to help them. The way you sidestep this issue is simply saying “Ok.” and walking away.  If you really want to give the knife that they’ve already fallen on a twist, when they apologize say “Good.” Or even “Fuckin right”. The key here is not to give the apology any power. It’s as powerful as you make it. Feel free to just walk away. If you don’t, you’re setting yourself up. 

The Stare Down
I knew a girl who would stare you down until you offered whatever it was that she needed. It was brilliant. Pretty sure she was a Jedi.
“Hey, I’m going to the post office, be back in a few.” And then I’d try to turn and walk away…but then…
“Oh you’re going to the post office?” That’s when she would do it. The stare down…
Silent, but the pause is so pregnant, it’s crowning.
“Um. Yeah, I have to get some bills…in…the…mail. Is there something you need me take to the post office for you?”
“Oh yes, thanks! If you could get these in the mail for me that would be great!” And then she would hand you a stack of envelopes, which may or may not need stamps.  This was a trick done in an effort to spare her the trouble of an errand but from time to time if you were cooking she could glare a meal right out of you.
The way around it is, again, not giving it any power. When asked if you are going to the post office, the answer is “Yes.” And then just go.

The Drama Queen
One of the more common manipulation tricks is so common I’m not sure it’s even worth mentioning, but for the sake of posterity, here you go. Also, it’s kind of ambiguous as to when it’s actually being used as manipulation. When people complain or put on airs of being burdened, pained, or oppressed in some way, we come to their aid.  It builds a sense of community and makes us feel like we’re Boy Scouts helping some crone across the street. The key here is to realize when it’s venting. It’s also a difference in communication between men and women. Women don’t necessarily want or need help when they’re venting. They just want to get it off their chest, which helps them digest the whatever issue.  Men on the other hand, immediately try to solve the issue, which makes men much more susceptible to this particular tactic. Chicks can also take it as an invitation for a pissing contest as to who’s got it worse. This is yet another instance of my leaving the room in order to seek out a cat to mark me up in lieu of listening to whining. Yeah, I know I’m fluffy.

There’s a slew of ways people try to get you to do something or get something from you. Some are harmless. Some aren’t (i.e. blackmail). Just realize what you are getting into when it happens. Listen to what you are being told, or the way you’re being treated and then decide whether or not you give a shit. That’s all I’m say’n.