New heading banner 2

July 31, 2012
In this issue:
  • Article:  Countering the Manipulator's Tactics
  • Coaching:  Coaching spots available
  • Leslie Answers Your Questions:

    Am I Manipulative and Controlling?

  • What's New?  New Website launched!
  • Coaching Session Give Away:  Win one of two free coaching sessions!  Plus see winners from previous Give Away.
Countering the
Manipulator's Tactics


In my last newsletter, I shared with you the nine (9) common tactics of manipulators and closed by asking you to think about whether you are easy prey for manipulation. If you answered "yes", it's important that you understand that you will never change the manipulator when you confront their manipulative tactics directly. They will just switch to another tactic. So if you want to change, change begins with you.


You must recognize that someone is attempting to manipulate you.


Awareness is the first step of all change. But you are not going to change the person doing the manipulating. You are going to change you. Manipulation is only effective if it works to control you. Therefore, you must begin to identify what's going on in you that keeps you easily manipulated by others.


The three most common reasons we allow ourselves to be manipulated are:


Fear:  Fear comes in many forms. We may fear the loss of relationship, we fear the disapproval of others, or we fear making someone unhappy with us. We also fear the threats and consequences of the manipulators actions. What if they actually succeed at doing what they threaten?


We're too nice:  We enjoy being a giver, making people happy, and taking care of other's needs. We find satisfaction and our self-esteem and self-worth often comes from doing for others. However, when we don't have a clear sense of self and good boundaries, manipulators sense this in us and exploit it to their own advantage.


Guilt:  We live under a lie that we should always put other people's wants and needs ahead of our own. When we try to speak up or put our own needs out there, manipulators often exploit us and attempt to make us feel like we are doing something wrong if we don't always put their wants and needs ahead of our own. Manipulators define love as always doing what I want/need you to do. Therefore, if we have a different opinion, need, want or feelings, we are told we are unloving and feel guilty if we express or want to do something different.


What you need to overcome a manipulator's tactics:


Develop a clear sense of self:  You need to know who you are, what you want, what you feel, and what you like and don't like. You need not apologize for these things. They are what make you, you. Often times we fear that if we state what we need, feel, think or like, we're being selfish. But it isn't selfish to know who you are or what you want. That's healthy. Selfishness is demanding that you always get what you want or that other's always put you first. In the same way, when someone else demands that of you, they are being selfish and disrespectful of your personhood.


Jesus knew who he was. Because of his strong identity in the Father's Word, he was not manipulated when people wanted him to do things the Father did not call him to do. He also was not derailed when other's defined him as crazy or demon possessed.


The ability to say "no" in the face of someone's disapproval:  Healthy people live in reality. The truth is, when we can't accommodate someone else's desires or needs, they naturally will feel disappointed. That's human and most people will adjust and move on. Healthy people know that they don't always get everything they want even if what they want is legitimate.


However, when we cannot tolerate someone else's disappointment or disapproval when we say "no", then it's harder for us to say it or have boundaries. Manipulators capitalize on this weakness and use disappointment and disapproval in extreme forms to get us to do what they want.


Read Mark 1:29-39 and see how Jesus said no to Peter and his friends who were waiting to get healed. Do you think they felt disappointed? How did Jesus handle that?


Tolerate someone else's negative affect (disappointment, sadness, and/or anger without backing down:  We can show empathy for someone else's sadness or hurt or even anger when we can't accommodate him/her without backing down and reversing our decision.


For example, in many of the examples of manipulation I wrote in the last newsletter, a mother was attempting to get her adult child to come to her home for the holiday. If you don't want to be manipulated into saying "yes" when you want to say "no", you can say, "Mom I know this is hard for you, and I understand that you're disappointed and sad that we won't be there. I hope you will try to understand it's just too difficult for us to travel that far over the holiday with all the children."


Remember, a healthy relationship is characterized by mutuality, reciprocity, and freedom. If you are in a relationship with someone who uses manipulation regularly, as you get stronger, you can invite him/her into healthy change simply by not allowing yourself to be manipulated. This will create a crisis of sorts in your relationship.


Either the manipulator will begin to back down and respect your time, your feelings, your desires and your needs, or they will move on to another person who is more easily manipulated.


Don't let that be you.


If you're having trouble with being manipulated or recognize that you are a manipulator and want to stop, you may find personal coaching a great next step in your own growth and development.


I would love the opportunity to work with you to help you become all that God has for you. For an application go to


P.S. I want to warmly welcome ALL new subscribers who have joined our community since last month! You are going to love the resources you find to help you grow. I'm thrilled to have you here!


P.P.S. Don't keep this to yourself! Forward this newsletter to your friends and colleagues or send them to so they can register for themselves.





We are so excited to announce that our new website has launched! Please take some time to visit us and sign-up to receive a free copy of Leslie's Webinar, Does God Really Want Me to Be Happy





As a special incentive, those who sign-up by midnight Tuesday (July 31st) will be entered into a special drawing from which two names will be selected to receive a free coaching session.


Click here to sign-up


On Leslie's new website, there are many valuable free resources as well as a comprehensive listing of past blog topics, newsletters, products offered, etc.


Congratulations to Debbie C. of Kansas City, MO and Heather Z. of Pen Argyl, PA who were the two winners of The Emotionally Destructive Relationship by Leslie Vernick.




For more information on Leslie's coaching program, please click below.


Leslie Vernick Coaching Programs





Sep 6-8 Faithlife Women's Conference, Dallas, Texas


Sep 27-29 AACC Conference, Brandon, MO




Oct 12-14 Agape Total Life Center, British Virgin Islands


Oct 19-21 Ladie's Bible Conference, America's Keswick, Whiting, NJ


To attend a seminar led by Leslie Vernick is to be embraced by her thoughtful and compassionate heart, yet challenged by her practical insights, self-tests and tips. We left with a deeper understanding of who we were, where we had been stuck, and how to move forward in our walk with Christ.


Brenda H. McCord
Moody Bible Institute

Leslie Welcomes

Your Questions:


Leslie wants to help you grow in your personal and relational effectiveness.  Send your questions about dealing with difficult people, stress, or relationship issues to:


Then, visit Leslie's Blog as she posts her responses to one question per week.


Note:  Due to the volume of questions that Leslie receives, she is unable to respond to every question.



If you'd like to invite Leslie to speak at one of your events, please contact us at






Like me on Facebook


Follow me on Twitter 


View our videos on YouTube


View my profile on LinkedIn





Am I Manipulative and Controlling?

Question:  My wife says I'm manipulative and controlling. I don't think I am. Let me give you an example. We have been separated for about a year, but recently we were out to dinner. While we were sitting there, she was friendly to some other patrons (policemen who she knew). She wasn't flirting, but I felt slighted and insulted that she was ignoring me. I told her how I felt and she accused me of being controlling. Is that true? I don't see it?


Answer:   First, let me applaud you for even asking the question. Most people, when given that kind of feedback, totally ignore or discount it. The fact that you are asking the question suggests that you might be open to the possibility that it's true, even if you don't see it.


Manipulating and controlling behavior is often subtle and hard to prove in the moment. It becomes much more obvious over time. If we just take this one incident, you might find it difficult to see your behavior as controlling. I think most people feel a little uncomfortable when they are out to eat with someone and that person has an extended conversation with someone else and does not include us, whether it is in person, on a cell phone or even texting.


So the only way we can truly answer this question is to examine your patterns over time, especially in relation to your interactions with your spouse. As you do this, you may begin to see a pattern of manipulative and controlling behaviors emerge.


Most people who use these kinds of behaviors don't usually recognize them as wrong or harmful. It's just the way they have learned to cope with uncomfortable or painful emotions, or the way they've learned to get their own way or what they want from others. Underneath these dysfunctional behaviors are usually attitudes of entitlement as well as unrealistic expectations of how others should be or how they should treat you.


For example, perhaps you felt insulted at the restaurant because you believed that you were entitled to your wife's undivided attention and anything less than that meant that she wasn't interested in you or your conversation. Ask yourself, were you attempting to control her friendliness with others by making her feel guilty about "slighting" you?


Or you may believe, "A wife should never talk with other men, even as friends. If she does, that means she doesn't love me or I'm not most important." Again, your response to her indicates that you had some expectations of her to give you her undivided attention the entire time you were together. You didn't say how long she was engaged with the policeman, but was it extensive or just a few minutes?


Here are a few more ways people manipulate and control others. Read through the list. Perhaps you will recognize some ways you attempted to get your wife to do what you wanted using these methods.


Arguing:   You don't take no for an answer, but instead you continue to make your point over and over again until she wears down and finally agrees with you. The underlying message is that it's not okay for her to disagree or have her own opinion.


Begging:   "Please? Please? Pleeeeeeeeeeeeease? You continue to ask, beg and plead until she changes her mind. The underlying message is that she is not allowed to say no.


Bargaining:   "If you do this, then I'll give you..." You use a bribe to get her to do or not do what you want. You use favors as a means to manipulate someone into doing something that they would not have wanted to do otherwise.


Guilt Trips:   You might say, "you're not following God," "you're being an un-submissive wife," "God hates divorce" or "if you really loved me or our children, you would..." The message here is that if you don't do what I think you should do, God will really be upset with you, I won't be able to handle it, or you are not a good/godly person.


Micromanaging:   This is usually in the areas of time and money where one person makes the other person feel like a subordinate employee or child. They are not allowed to make their own decisions or handle their own life without asking your permission.


Misquoting or Twisting:   You state, "you said..." when in reality the person didn't say it that way, but you twist what they said to suit your own purposes. For example, "You said we were going to get back together soon," when what she really said was, "I don't know if we can get back together soon."


Playing Holy Spirit:   We are all tempted to do this when confronting someone with his or her sin, but it is not our job to convict or change someone else's behavior to line up to what we think it should be. When we see someone caught in a sin or trespass, we can try to restore them in a spirit of humility and gentleness (Galatians 6:1), but if we try to hold someone accountable to a change that they have not initiated, we are attempting to play God in his or her life.


Promises:   You say, "I will do anything, just ..." Whether or not you keep your promise is irrelevant. You use a promise to get her to do something you want her to do.


Punishing actions:   You use physical, sexual, economic, or verbal pressure, abuse or tactics to punish her for not doing what you think she should do. You might stop paying the bills, close the bank account, curse at her, call her names, accuse her of things, or tell friends and neighbors untrue things about her to teach her a lesson for not doing what you want her to do. You feel justified, because she did something "wrong" and won't change, stop or admit she was wrong.


Irritation or silence:   You are so bothered or angry that she won't do what you want, that you won't speak with her or treat her kindly until she changes and does what you want.


Threats:   You threaten to leave, to hurt yourself or others, or to hurt something she loves like her pet, her parents, her children or her stuff if she doesn't do what you want her to do.


Some of these overlap and are used together to try to get someone to do something we think they should do or to stop doing something that we don't want them to do. When we do that, we certainly are trying to control their behavior and often their thinking. That is not our place.


If you see yourself in these examples, that's a good start, but it usually doesn't result in permanent changes unless you begin to invite your wife and others to tell you when you fall back into them. Then it is your responsibility to learn how to maturely tolerate the uncomfortable emotions that you may feel when she disagrees with you, doesn't want to do what you want her to do or wants to do something different.