The Urban Dictionary, known for its simple (and sometimes vulgar) definitions of common terms, defines the word “manipulate” as “making people do what you want.”
It’s a straightforward definition for a dangerous behavior.
The act of emotional manipulation isn’t just a single-player game. There’s the manipulator, the person performing the act. There’s also the manipulatee, the person on the receiving end of the behavior.
Unfortunately, the manipulatee is basically a pawn, often completely unaware of the manipulation. The manipulator walks away unscathed, leaving the manipulatee feeling foolish, duped, drained, resentful, mistrustful, helpless and powerless.
Take me, for example. I have been called a sucker (manipulatee) many times in the past, suckered out of jewelry, clothes, and money. I have also been suckered into doing things that I really, no really, did not want to do; it’s the times like these when I get really mad at myself.
Don’t worry about me, though. I finally smartened up after sharing one of my stories with a friend, who only stopped laughing at me long enough to say, “Pam, seriously? Let’s go to a tattoo parlor to get sucker imprinted on your forehead as a reminder to Stop Being One!”
We all have different turning points and that was mine.
Gaining the Advantage
Once I began studying the behaviors that people use to manipulate others, I realized that those who are vulnerable would gain an advantage if exposed to the nuances of this elusive behavior. Equipped with those tools, “suckers” like me would have a better chance of responding in a healthy way.
I also realized that children and adolescents are vulnerable too.
I started wondering:
- What if a child learned to recognize manipulative behaviors in others?
- Would this child be more likely to express a healthy, rather than destructive, response?
- Could this knowledge also be useful in preventing teens from falling victim to the dangerous consequences of manipulation?
- What about during adulthood?
I put my imagination to work and developed SEL for Prevention. This unique social and emotional learning program gives kids a strategy for recognizing, labeling, and stopping manipulation. The sooner children learn to identify manipulative behavior, the better. Don’t wait until they reach their turning point.
To learn more about this fascinating topic, schedule your free, live product overview today.