I have a confession to make, I’m a recovering manipulator. In his book Scary Close Don Miller describes five types of manipulators, sadly I have probably exhibited all of these at some point in my life. I have also been manipulated by others in all of these areas. Reflecting on eliminating these bad behaviors in myself and recognizing them in others in order to avoid this kind of control. I want to cultivate mature, healthy, authentic relationships with others. At the end of my life relationships will be what mattered. Indeed, as a wise man has often said “Life moves at the speed of relationships.” Relationships should be our most valued resources. In order to cultivate our relationships, we must be willing to work on ourselves first.
Do you recognize any of these?
1. The Scorekeeper: A score- keeper makes life feel like a contest, only there’s no way to win. Scorekeepers are in control of the scoreboard and frame it any way they want, but always in such a way they’re winning.
2. A Judge personality strongly believes in right and wrong, which is great, but they also believe they are the ones who decide right and wrong and lord it over others to maintain authority and power. Right and wrong are less a moral code than they are a collar and leash they attach to others so they can lead them around. When a Judge personality is religious, they’ll use the Bible to gain control of others. The Bible becomes a book of rules they use to prove they are right rather than a book that introduces people to God.
3. The False-Hero manipulates by leading people to believe they have something better to offer than they do. This one’s tough because this is my go-to form of manipulation.
4. Fearmongers rule by making people suffer the consequences of insubordination. The mantra of the Fearmonger is: If you don’t submit to me I’ll make your life a living hell. Fearmongers manipulate by making people believe they are strong. They are never vulnerable and fear being perceived as weak. Fearmongers are completely incapable of vulnerability and, as such, incapable of intimacy.
5. A Flopper is somebody who overdramatizes their victimhood in order to gain sympathy and attention. Floppers assume the role of victim whenever they can. This is a powerful and destructive form of manipulation. In order to be a victim, a person needs an oppressor. If you enter into a relationship with a Flopper, sooner or later that oppressor will be you.
We cannot change what we refuse to acknowledge. I acknowledge may failings in these relational areas, and now understand that people aren’t a means to the ends of my goals. But God made people as ends in and of themselves. Love others. The investment has eternal returns.