The Single Defining Characteristic of a Manipulator

Donald Miller

So I’ve been studying manipulative people lately. And I’ve been studying them after having been completely taken in over the last several years by a few of them. You just assume all people are good and honest and it’s a shock and borderline offensive to think they aren’t, but the truth is some people are a lot more manipulative than others.

The bottom line is manipulative people try to trick you into siding with them or submitting to their will without directly asking you to do so. They like to trick people into things. Whether it’s a business deal or romantic relationship, manipulative people will use guilt, shame, lies and trickery to get what they want.

I’ve been trying to identify the kinds of manipulators I see in the world, for my own personal protection. There are false victims, dramatics, bullies and so on. But there’s one common denominator. And it’s important and it’s this: Manipulators have a very difficult time admitting they are wrong.

If I have one piece of advice it’s this: Never work, fall in love with or for that matter walk a dog for anybody who has a hard time articulating their faults or mistakes.

People who cannot articulate their faults or mistakes see life as a game. They are keeping score and they intend to win. They want you to submit but have no intention of submitting themselves. Theirs is not a world where we are supposed to create intimacy and trust through grace, but a world where we are supposed to accumulate power and security by tricking the people around us.

The best book I’ve read about manipulators is a book called “Who’s Pulling Your Strings” by Harriet Braiker.

I would never have agreed with the idea that some people should be avoided because they’re manipulators ten years ago. But I live by that idea now. And I’m happier.

I have a friend at the Department of Justice who once said to me “Don, 90% of people’s problems could be solved if they just chose the right people to work with or to love.”

It took me awhile, but I agree with him.

Stay away from manipulators. If they can’t articulate their mistakes or faults, they’re pretending to be superhuman and they’re playing a game. And you can be sure, you’ll lose.

Donald Miller

Donald Miller

Donald Miller is all about story. His new book Scary Close is available now. Order it here, today. Follow Don on Twitter (@donaldmiller). To read more of his posts on the Storyline Blog, click here.