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10 Methods Nasty People Use And How To Avoid Them

10 Methods Nasty People Use And How To Avoid Them

We’ve all had the experience of being invalidated by certain people in our lives. Whether it’s from someone close to home, at work, or in a social group. There is always that one person we feel mistreated by.

Even worse, they lower our self-esteem in a subtle way which to the outside world goes unrecognised. If we try to explain how we feel, these people can easily turn the conversation around, making us out to be sensitive, judgemental and in the wrong.

Nasty people – also known as invalidators – have a way of lowering our self-esteem. In this article, I would like to share with you 10 methods of nasty people and how to avoid them.

As we explore these methods, you will come to have a more understanding an awareness about the people in your everyday life.

1. They Keep You Uncertain

One of the methods of an invalidator is to keep you in a state of uncertainty. You never know when they might explode and do something to upset you.

For example, you may become understanding of one and other, share a laugh, and build trust. Things can stay this way for a period of time, but then out of nowhere, the invalidator makes you feel uncertain again.

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In this persons presence, you never know how to feel around them, and you create rational excuses for their behaviour, almost as a way of convincing yourself that you like them.

2. They Like To Project

Projection can be explained quite simply: the person takes their feelings and puts the responsibility for them on you. For example, a person who doesn’t like you may say, ”I don’t think you like me.”.

They can easily set a frame around you, making you explain yourself to them. And instead of thinking about the invalidators intentions, you start questioning your own feelings.

3. They Will Often Use Manipulation

Manipulation is about control. The invalidator needs to feel in power of you, and often makes you feel like you owe them something. This sort of behaviour can be found in managers, and those in higher power.

For example, if you were asked to work overtime but have other commitments, your boss will try to convince you that your work is more important than your commitments.

If you remind your boss about any overtime you put in for them previously, they will make out that they were doing you a favour, or that you owed it to them.

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4. They Are Always Judgemental

An invalidator who often judges you likes to act as if everyone agrees with them. For example, ”You are irresponsible” would be a passing judgment which assumes that this is who you are as a person, and everyone would agree.

The invalidator judges because they want to unconsciously attack your self-esteem instead of addressing the real problem. Addressing the real problem would mean taking responsibility for their feelings which invalidators do not.

5. They Generalise And Exaggerate The Truth

Be careful of generalisations. An invalidator will use generalisations as a way of exaggerating small truths. For example, if you forgot to clean the house, an invalidator might say, ”You never help me” (Translation: you forgot to clean). ”You’re useless”. (You forgot to clean).

Again, this is an attack on your self-esteem instead of the real problem. The problem is the house isn’t clean. The problem is not that you don’t help, or are useless.

6. They Use The Sneak Attack

”I don’t mean to upset you, but..” (They probably want to upset you). ”I don’t mean to interrupt…” (Yeah, right!). The voice of an invalidator who uses a sneak attack will always have a soft voice.

Their face will also show concern. They may even try to be nice, but underneath are daggers.

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7. They Send A Double Message

A double message is usually verbalised in a deep tone – a voice of disgust. For example, an invalidator may ask, ”How are you?”. If you respond with, ”Leave me alone!”, the invalidator will innocently relate to everyone that you are in a bad mood because all they did was ask how you were.

Invalidators can be very sneaky with double messages. They appear innocent to observers, but you can always sense something in the way they are talking to you.

8. They Will Cut Communication

Another valuable tool for the invalidator is cutting communication. If you are asked a question about yourself, they cut you off before you finish answering.

Or you can be asked a leading question like, ”Do you still argue with your partner?” You can’t answer this question without appearing wrong. The invalidator may even walk out in the middle of a conversation, leaving you with a pile of thoughts jammed in your mind.

9. They Build You Up, Then Cut You Down

Many invalidators like to build you up so that you grow dependant on them. They make out that they are always there for you, and that you can always share your innermost feelings.

Whenever you feel self- conscious or anxious, the invalidator will draw your attention to the negative qualities about yourself. This way, they can pull you down, so that they feel more superior, making you feel like you need them.

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10. They Use What’s Called A ‘Double Bind’

The double bind is one of the most sneakiest attacks because you’re wrong if you do, and wrong if you don’t. For example, if you took a class to improve your confidence, your partner may get jealous and insecure of the new confidence you have. So you’re then given the ultimatum of, ”It’s either me or the class”.

Of course, nobody wants to give up their relationship for the sake of a class. An invalidator will put out threats due to the positive changes you are making in your life.

How To Avoid The Everyday Invalidator

Having explored the 10 methods of nasty people and how to avoid them, you now have a better understanding of the invalidators in your daily life, and what their intentions are.

In these circumstances, knowledge is power. Because we cannot always avoid certain people in our lives, we can, however, avoid feeling trapped by them.

We do this by simply being more sharper and aware of the behaviours of the people around us. And with this new level of awareness, we will become confident and more assertive the next time we interact with them.

References, 

Nasty People, Jay Carter, Psyd.D, 2003. 

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Published on April 7, 2021

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

Some of the most manipulative people are so good at what they do that their words and actions can convince you into thinking they truly care about what’s best for you when in reality, it’s quite the opposite. The most common signs of a controlling person are rarely obvious to outside observers. And for someone enmeshed in a controlling relationship or friendship, it can be incredibly challenging to stay away from this toxic person, even if you’re aware of their emotionally abusive tendencies.

While it’s ultimately up to you to decide whether to preserve or leave a lopsided, unfulfilling relationship, it’s nevertheless critical to understand the following six signs of controlling people so you can better advocate for yourself and mitigate the influence of their manipulative tendencies in your own life.

1. They Push Their Own Personal Agenda

Do you know someone who always tries to micromanage the words, behaviors, and attitudes of people around them? Does this person act like they have the right to know anything they want about you, including your location, what you’re doing in a given moment, who you’re talking to online, or any other private information about you? And when planning events and special occasions, does this person dominate conversations, steer plans in their own preferred directions, disparage others’ suggestions, and refuse to collaborate with anyone who might disagree with them?

If you answered “yes” to some of the above questions, then those are clear signs of a controlling person whom you absolutely need to be cautious around. Controlling people are reluctant to even consider alternative ideas, let alone enthusiastically work with people who have differing views. They prefer to be the captain of every ship—regardless of how much or how little an issue personally impacts them—and they have an arsenal of manipulative tactics to deploy if someone stands in the way of them achieving their own personal agendas.

In long-term relationships with controlling people, you may feel constantly pressured to meet their demands, follow their schedule, and focus on whatever they feel is most important. It’s not an exaggeration to say that these people act like the universe revolves around them, which can be exhausting to deal with for their family members, friends, and colleagues.

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2. They Make Everything Transactional

Controlling people aren’t always self-centered, but they’re not too empathetic either. Empathy for them tends to appear in the form of strategic concessions they use as a means to get what they want. They typically view interpersonal relationships as transactional opportunities to extract more value from people surrounding them, which can have a draining effect on those they interact with.

For example, one sign of a controlling person may be their insistence on “keeping score.” This can involve doing nice things for you with the ulterior motive of demanding something from you at a later date in exchange for what you thought was just an act of kindness or a friendly support.

Perhaps they shower you in praise (also known as “love-bombing”) or gifts then blow up at you if you don’t intuitively know they’re expecting something back from you. None of us are mind-readers, but controlling people behave as though everyone else should think and act like they want others to and those who fall out of line are punished for failing to meet their impossible expectations.

A controlling person may also threaten to withhold support if you don’t adhere to their demands, but they do so in such subtle ways that the guilt they impose blinds you from the unreasonable nature of their behaviors.

Some statements to be wary of include:

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  • “I did ___________ for you. What do you mean you can’t do ___________ for me?”
  • “Remember how I helped you with ___________? That took a lot of time and energy from me, but I guess you didn’t appreciate my help.”
  • “I always give you ___________. Don’t you care about my needs too?”
  • “You’re so selfish!” or “You don’t care about me at all!” (gaslighting if you respond with hesitation or politely decline their request for help for perfectly valid reasons, such as not having enough time or resources to assist them)

3. They Criticize Everything

One of the most common telltale signs of a controlling person is their capacity to criticize anything and everything, even small things that seemingly don’t matter. As with many toxic traits in relationships, these problems typically start out so small that you may not even notice. At first, you may even agree with their criticism or at least be able to understand their perspective when they bring up an issue.

However, the criticism tends to get more intense, more constant, and more perplexing for people who maintain relationships with controlling people. You’ll likely notice how they rarely seem to criticize something they do. It’s almost always other-oriented and these types of people are so manipulative that any rationale they offer can seem plausibly legitimate.

Some warning signs of a controlling person who’s overly critical to the point of abusiveness include:

  • Criticizing things about you that you have little to no control over (e.g., appearance, disability, family)
  • Criticizing your personal choices and interests, such as educational pursuits, career, clothing, favorite music, time spent on your hobbies, etc.
  • Punishing you for expressing vulnerability by invalidating thoughts and feelings you share with them
  • Attacking you whenever you express an opinion counter to theirs

4. They Balk When Someone Criticizes Them

We all know the adage, “what goes around, comes around.” But this statement doesn’t apply as much to toxic, controlling people. They’d much prefer to dish out criticism without ever having to take it in return.

For instance, if your friend constantly talks about your appearance with little regard for your emotions but flips out if you make just a single comment about their appearance, there’s a possibility that they could have some hidden controlling tendencies left unchecked. Remember, these people aren’t just controlling in their behaviors towards others. They’re also actively trying to stay in complete control over every aspect of their lives, which includes how others view them.

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This seemingly insatiable desire for control can prompt them to lash out against even the smallest bits of criticism, leaving people around them too weary or scared to speak up again in the future. While it’s possible they may suffer from something called rejection sensitivity dysphoria, this does not excuse them from the consequences of their words and actions. They should seek professional help to better manage their reactions to criticism.

5. They Socially Isolate You

Not all controlling people do this, but for manipulative narcissists, socially isolating victims is a go-to strategy for maintaining control because it’s effective at preventing people from truly understanding how toxic their partner, family member, or friend is treating them. Think of it this way—if you don’t talk to many other people in your life, there’s less of a risk that you’ll damage their reputation by revealing their abusive tendencies.

Socially isolating others also gives the person more control over you and your life as it becomes more difficult to break away from them if you don’t have other healthier channels of communication and interpersonal support to turn to.

This process doesn’t happen overnight, nor is it something you can readily recognize as abusive. At first, it may seem reasonable, such as asking you to stop engaging so often with family members with whom both of you disagree on major social or political issues. As the social isolation progresses, they may suggest cutting people out of your life—especially if they don’t like that person, regardless of how you personally feel—or even conjure up high-stakes problems like “it’s me or them” under the guise of saving you from people in your life whom they don’t like for whatever reason.

In a controlling person’s life narrative, they’re always the protagonist who’s incapable of any wrongdoing. The blame is always redirected at someone else, whether that’s you or other people in your life. The more they isolate you from other supportive people in your life, the more susceptible you’ll be to falsely believing that they’re right and you “don’t need” your other friends and family when you have someone as perfect as this person.

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6. They’re Emotionally Abusive

It’s hard enough to be in control of your own emotions but when someone else is constantly belittling you and your interests or leveraging guilt and shame to manipulate you into saying or doing what they want, this can make it even more challenging to stay in control of your own life and emotional well-being.

Emotional abuse is another sign of a controlling person that is often overlooked in relationships. After all, human personalities vary widely in terms of passivity, and it’s not uncommon for one person in a relationship to be significantly more passive than the other. This becomes an issue when the controlling partner or friend exudes signs of emotional abuse, which can start subtly and become much more pronounced over time.

Concerning signs of emotionally abusive language or behavior to watch out for include:

  • Dismissing your needs and/or belittling your interests in counterproductive ways
  • Privately or publicly shaming or humiliating you
  • Making you feel as though you can never live up to their expectations or do anything right (according to their own vague, subjective standards)
  • Gaslighting you into thinking they said or did something that never actually happened (making you question your own reality)

Final Thoughts

It’s sometimes hard to see the negative things about someone with whom we have a relationship. We may sometimes unconsciously overlook the signs of a controlling person, especially if that person is someone we have known for a long time or are close to us. However, cutting them off your life is the best thing you can do for yourself. Just watch out for these six signs of a controlling person and take immediate action when you spot them.

More Tips on How To Deal With a Controlling Person

Featured photo credit: Külli Kittus via unsplash.com

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