Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Today I taught my second full-time lesson of this semester, which was focused around The Merchant of Venice. I took a different spin on the usual ways to approach character motivation and discussed with the class the manipulative behaviors of one of the main characters. We talked about why the character might have chosen to be maniupulative and what could have been a better strategy to get what she wanted. Then I had them fill out the following inventory, checking yes or no by the behaviors they had or had not done in the past year.

If you're curious, get out a pen and paper and see how manipulative you are:

___ yes ___ no ( 1) Play the victim

___ yes ___ no ( 2) Play the martyr

___ yes ___ no ( 3) Act helpless

___ yes ___ no ( 4) Play stupid

___ yes ___ no ( 5) Act incompetent

___ yes ___ no ( 6) Act angry

___ yes ___ no ( 7) Throw temper tantrums

___ yes ___ no ( 8) Say "anything you want" when you don't mean it

___ yes ___ no ( 9) Act compliant when you don't want to

___ yes ___ no (10) Lie about how you feel

___ yes ___ no (11) Act lost

___ yes ___ no (12) Act suicidal

___ yes ___ no (13) Act hopeless and pathetic

___ yes ___ no (14) Act depressed

___ yes ___ no (15) Act befuddled or confused

___ yes ___ no (16) Tell stories or fabrications

___ yes ___ no (17) Use hyperbole or exaggeration to build up problems

___ yes ___ no (18) Act as a "wedge" between people keeping them divided against one another

___ yes ___ no (19) Act judgmental or shame people

___ yes ___ no (20) Use guilt trips

___ yes ___ no (21) Use ridicule

___ yes ___ no (22) "Cry wolf"

___ yes ___ no (23) "Looking good" for the other

___ yes ___ no (24) People pleasing

___ yes ___ no (25) Passive aggressiveness

___ yes ___ no (26) Act hurt or wounded

___ yes ___ no (27) Act ignored or forgotten

___ yes ___ no (28) Act unloved or uncared for

___ yes ___ no (29) Blame others for your problems

___ yes ___ no (30) Kiss up

___ yes ___ no (31) Act overly solicitous

___ yes ___ no (32) Ingratiate yourself with others

___ yes ___ no (33) Exaggerated sincerity

___ yes ___ no (34) Overly charming

___ yes ___ no (35) Act "out of it"

___ yes ___ no (36) Act "sorry" for your bad behaviors

___ yes ___ no (37) Insincere promising of change or reformation of behaviors

___ yes ___ no (38) Act as if you don't have value or worth

___ yes ___ no (39) Keep everybody upset to keep focus off you

___ yes ___ no (40) Keep people around you in competitive relationships

We talked about how there are healthier ways to get what you wanted, including talking openly and honestly about your feelings and why you're feeling the way that you are and doing a lot of self-reflection to discover why you manipulate people (since after this list, it should be pretty apparent that everyone does it).

One thing that surprised me though was that my classmates said that manipulation is not always a bad thing and that it is sometimes necessary to get what you want or to help another person. Would you agree with them?

For more information, see http://www.livestrong.com/article/15065-eliminating-manipulation/


  1. No. I would not agree with that. I don't think you are being honest with others or yourself when being manipulative. I think it is a short term solution to a problem and won't really SOLVE the real problem behind the manipulation. Truth is so freeing and refreshing.

  2. That's an interesting question. I don't really think manipulation is good. There are other ways to achieve the same ends, that are probably healthier. How do you think your lesson went? It sounds like a cool lesson.


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