There is a real difference in motivation and manipulation. The manipulator is one who exploits, uses, and controls himself and others as things or objects. A manipulator may use active or passive methods. He will use deception, control, cynicism, or anything else that will get his will.
Manipulation vs. actualization
A manipulator is a person who exploits, uses, and or/controls himself and others in certain self-defeating ways. The real issue is control. Is the leader trying to control and get his goals accomplished, or the other person’s goals? It reduces persons to things and seeks to exploit them for good or evil ends. He may be passive or aggressive. A passive manipulator is elusive, and attempts to control by being helpless; he wins by losing. An aggressive manipulator uses active, direct methods to control, and may pick associates that he can dominate easily. The passive player usually beats an aggressive player.
An actualizator is the opposite of a manipulator. He is a person who appreciates himself and his fellowman as persons of worth created in the image of God with unique gifts and abilities. His goal is to help persons discover and release their potential. Most people are some of both. The goal of a Christian is to become more of an actualizator and less of a manipulator.
The basic strategy of dealing with manipulative behavior is not to play the game. We even need to recognize the signs that it is coming and avoid getting caught in a trap. There are four ways to respond to manipulative behavior: counterattack, withdraw, patronize, or confront.
Characteristics of manipulators
1. Deception – He puts on an act and plays a role. He picks his responses and friends for the occasion. He is never his true self. People are not themselves when around him. They try to hide their feelings and needs. He uses tricks, techniques, and maneuvers.
2. Unawareness or tunnel vision – He is unaware of the real important things in life. He never stops to smell the roses. He sees the present, but not the whole picture of life.
3. Control – He tries to understand psychology so he can control others. He conceals his motives, feelings, and attitudes. He puts on a mask. He avoids spontaneity and freedom. He plays life like a game.
4. Cynicism – He is distrusting of himself and others. He doesn’t trust his ability to cope with people or situations. He tries to play it safe in situations and relationships.
Characteristics of actualizers
The opposite characteristics apply to an actualizer. He will appreciate himself and others as persons of unique worth and potential. He expresses his actual self and accepts the expression of the actual selves of others. He is honest and can express feelings honestly and doesn’t try to be something he is not. He is alive, responsive, a good listener, sensitive, and appreciative. He has freedom, and gives it. He stresses spontaneity and openness. He trusts others and is not afraid to enter into relationships.
Examples of manipulators
1. The influence peddler – “I’ll scratch your back, if you will scratch mine.”
2. The people’s choice – “A number of people have talked to me about this.”
3. The weakling – “You wouldn’t hurt me now, would you?”
4. The calculator – “The facts are very plain to me.”
5. The omnipotent father – “If you had only listened to me.”
6. The divine messenger – “I have a special revelation from God.”
7. The martyr – “Look what I gave up.”
8. The injustice collector – “No one ever listens to me.”
9. The critical parent – “No self-respecting person would ever give less than his best.”
10. The voice of experience – “Someday you will be able to understand what we are discussing.”
Ways manipulation is used
By church members
a) Cancel giving
b) Stop attending
c) Create dissension
d) Coerce through committees
e) Cover up with clichés
– “Get back to old fashioned religion.”
– “Just preach the Bible.”
– “Politics and religion don’t mix.”
– “We’ve never done it this way before.”
f) Control the curriculum
g) Close the mind
h) Manipulate the preacher
– Make an image of purity and perfection
– Give gifts
– “You embarrass us when you stand up.”
– Tell his wife of your personal concern for him
2. By preachers
a) Power of his profession – full-time Christian, called of God
b) Weight of his authority – worship leader, vehicles of God’s grace
c) Degree of his training – years of experience, knows Greek
d) Power of his privilege – knowledge of individual members
e) Stacking of the deck – control of committees and groups
f) Scarcity of his kind – pulpit committee was here last week