Hearing vs. Listening
Many people, men more than women, but women too, don’t listen to what’s being said. They might be able to tell you the words that were said for a few seconds, maybe a couple of minutes, but they definitely couldn’t tell you the meaning.
I know one woman who got tired of trying to communicate her preferences to her significant other. She’d get a few words, maybe a sentence or two, spoken when he would hi-jack the conversation, tell her what she was going to say, what it meant, and why she was wrong.
She began to ask herself, how do I not know how I feel or what I think? He must think I’m really stupid. Or, he must think and feel like he is God. Does he really think that he is all-knowing?
Perhaps there’s another answer. Could he be trying to boost his frail ego by being first to answer, first to solve problems?
Psychological manipulation can be defined as the exercise of undue influence through mental distortion and emotional exploitation, with the intention to seize power, control, benefits, and privileges at the victim’s expense. – Psychology Today
In society, we need a healthy balance of give and take, in speaking and listening, giving and accepting ideas, healthy exchanges between people.
Manipulation, on the other hand, is where one person is used for the benefit of another. The manipulator seeks to create an imbalance of power to take advantage of the other person.
In some cases, the not listening and being first to speak and talking over people is a method of manipulation and attempt to hi-jack the potential conversation, swing it around, so the speaker gets his or her own way. This stops any options or opinions that would go against what the manipulator really wants.
It is based solely on greed and desire.
For example, the guy who wants to be taken care of by his significant other avoids any questions or conversation about him getting a job. She walks in the door to housework completed and dinner on the table.
He thinks that if she doesn’t have to do anything when she gets home she will really appreciate him being home and won’t bring up the subject of a job.
He’s very aware of how a sentence would start regarding a job. If she has that look on her face or the attitude in her voice sounds like she would introduce the work subject he immediately launches into action.
He sits her in a chair with her feet up and puts a cold drink in her hand. The TV tuned to her favorite show. Then he begins massaging her shoulders asking how her day went. Anytime her words sounded like she might introduce the “job” subject he’d interrupt with questions about her day.
Striving To Be Heard
After months of this lavish treatment, her frustration began to build until it spilled over into any topic, with a less than friendly and loving attitude. She spent every free moment during the day forming her thoughts and words to try to be heard.
At the next opportunity, she spoke with great restraint, controlling the flow, and the pressure behind her words, but met with extreme stress and agitation and a feigned heart attack.
Feigned Heart Attack
During the drive to the hospital, guilt mounted with thoughts that perhaps she caused him to have a heart attack. She did care about him, she did love him. “How could I have been so thoughtless and uncaring?”
For days, if a subject sounded like “get a job” his hand rested on his chest with a grimace on his face, letting her know in very passive-aggressive terms that he couldn’t work.
Over the months, periodic outbreaks of her pent-up emotions and thoughts met with stronger and stronger resistance. He countered, “How could you be so thoughtless? You know I am sick. I can’t get a job. Don’t you care about me at all?”
The stress of not being able to express her thoughts and feelings took a toll on her physical body. She began having chest pains, headaches, and digestive issues. Her body physically exhausted most of the time. Talking seemed to be the only way for her to reduce her stress level. At this point, the consequences no longer mattered.
Her words met with the ultimate manipulation, “You don’t care about me. I’m trying so hard to make you happy. I do everything for you and you don’t appreciate anything… Oh well, I guess I’ll just end it all.”
It’s Over, Maybe Not
“Is it over?” you might ask. Not necessarily. On his way out, he intentionally left something of importance to him in the house, to enable his return, with the thought, “ Maybe by then she will have calmed down, so I can wiggle back into my place of being cared for.”
The ironic thing is that he could have had everything he wanted if he’d just listened to her thoughts and feelings. If he’d met her real needs instead of what he thought would get him what he wanted.
He refused to listen. It was all about him.
If he had listened and shown he really cared about her, she would have been more willing to reach a compromise on what he wanted.
Focus On the Other Person
When an object in motion meets a brick wall it never turns out well for either party. As a general rule, you need to keep your focus on the other person and what they need and want, not only on yourself, and what you want.
Could the relationship be mended? Possibly, but only if he had a change of heart. Perhaps, if he learned to focus on acknowledging what she wanted and seeking a compromise.
Can a person learn? Can they change? Yes, of course, but, unfortunately, learning and changing usually come from very hard knocks.
The question is not can he change, but WILL he change.
How to Tell If You’re Being Manipulated
When you feel Misunderstood and devalued during conversations or with your relationship with another person, do you feel:
- Your perspective does not matter.
- Your power in the relationship gets diminished.
- All conflicts are emotionally charged.
- Pressured with your desires ignored.
- Helpless, confused, and unheard.
- Unsafe in the relationship.
- If you feel physically unsafe, take yourself out of the relationship, either temporarily or permanently.
Check out my other posts on Medium.