Unfortunately, I’ve got one or more of these I’m dealing with currently. So I’ve hit the library and come up with George Simon’s book In Sheeps Clothing: Understanding and Dealing with Manipulative People. It is not a huge book, but manages to be quite comprehensive and helpful. First off he talks about what these situations look like, and then later he talks about what you can do. Here’s the brief list of how to handle these difficult cases, summarized from the book.

Let Go of Harmful Misconceptions
The point here is that these people (sometimes we call them passive-agressives but Simons makes the case for calling them covert-agressives) are not like the rest of us. This is a segment of the population that doesn’t share the same worldview and doesn’t feel guilt or shame when they make someone unhappy. What’s that they say? The truth shall make you free, I think.

Become a Better Judge of Character
Avoid victimization by identifying the people in your life who have these manipulative or agressive traits. An important thing to look for is that these folks care about winning. Figuring out what constitutes winning for these people is another matter entirely…

Know Yourself Better

One key to dealing with manipulators is that they know exactly what your buttons are, and how hard and how long they need to push them to get what they want. So be on guard that you’re not being naive, overconscientious, or overintellectual about issues because manipulators can and will use that against you.

Know What to Expect and What to Do
Recognize manipulative tactics immediately and then reframe things so that you get what you want and/or need. If you don’t know what that is, take a step back and figure it out. Then be assertive.

Don’t Fight a Losing Battle
You know when you’re in the thick of this kind of thing it’s normal to be depressed, Simons argues. This is because you’re fighting a losing battle of trying to make the manipulator change. What to do? Don’t try to make them change, work on yourself.

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