Monday, March 9, 2009


Excerpts from
By George K. Simon, Jr, PhD

Definition of Terms:

Disordered Character Personalities (pg 18): Character-disordered personalities lack self-restraint when it comes to acting upon their primal urges. They’re not bothered enough by what they do and have too little conscience, unlike neurotics who also have difficulty with self restraint.

Aggressive Personalities (pg 24): Those who take charge of getting their needs met and resist depending on the supports of others who consist of two types: One able to conform his conduct well enough to function in society and the other unable to abide by the rule of law. (Based upon the writings of Theodore Milton).

Covert-Aggressive Personality (pg 27-29): Covert-aggressives have many unique attributes that make them a truly distinct type of aggressive personality, primarily by the way they fight. They fight for what they want and seek power over others in subtle, cunning and underhanded ways. They deceive themselves about their true character and their covertly-aggressive conduct. To the degree that they are character disordered, the more they actively attempt to deceive only their intended victims. Some personality theorists have proposed that the cardinal quality of the covert-aggressive or the manipulative personality is that they derive an inordinate sense of exhilaration from pulling the wool over the eyes of their victims.

These are their major attributes:
· Want to have their way or “win”
· Seek power and dominance over others, wanting to always be one-up and in control.
· Deceptively civil, charming and seductive; They know how to “look good” and how to win you over by “melting” your resistance
· Unscrupulous, underhanded and vindictive fighters; capitalize on weaknesses and will intensify aggression if they sense you are faltering
· Uniquely impaired consciences
· Abusive and exploitive in interpersonal relations

Redefining the Terms of Engagement
(Pgs 115 – 137)
It’s impossible to deal effectively with anybody when you start out in a one-down position. So, if you want to avoid being victimized by covert-aggression, or any aggression for that matter, you must move quickly to redefine the terms of engagement…

Three Primary Means of Redefining the Terms:
· Letting Go of Harmful Misconsceptions
They don’t act the same way, and, as years of research has confirmed, they don’t even think the same way… They don’t share the same world-view or code of conduct. They’re also not influenced or motivated by the same things. In fact, much of what we’ve been taught about why and how most people behave simply doesn’t apply to aggressive personalities.
· Becoming a Better Judge of Character
Anyone wanting to reliably avoid victimization needs to identify the people in their life with aggressive and covertly aggressive personality traits… In the parable from which the title of this book is taken, Jesus says “by their fruits you shall know them.”
· Knowing Yourself Better
Any manipulator’s real leverage is in knowing the character of his victim well enough to know how that person will likely respond to the tactics he uses… The more you know about yourself and your own vulnerabilities, the more leverage you gain in your dealings with them.

When examining your own character, here are some important things to look for:
1. Naivete’
2. Over-conscientiousness
3. Low self-confidence
4. Over-intellectualization
5. Emotional dependency

Knowing What To Expect and What To Do

You can expect manipulators to throw at you whatever it takes to gain advantage over you. Know all the tactics by heart. Watch and listen carefully. Listen for not necessarily to what your manipulator says. Be constantly on the lookout for tactics. Label the tactics immediately when you detect them. Regardless of the kinds of tactics a manipulator is using, remember this fundamental rule: Don’t be swayed by the tactics themselves. Reinforce the idea in your mind that the manipulator is merely fighting for something. Then, respond solely on the basis of what you legitimately want or need. Don’t react instinctively or defensively to what they are doing. Take your own, independent, assertive stand.

Put Your Energy Where Your Power Is

Making headway in conflicts with aggressive and covertly aggressive personalities (or, for that matter, any personality) can only happen when you’re willing to invest your time and energy where you have unquestionable power: your own behavior.

Conducting yourself in relationships with covertly-aggressive people is never easy business. But there are some general rules that, if followed, can make life with them a whole lot easier. I call them tools of personal empowerment because they can help anybody maintain a position of strength in their interpersonal relationships.

Tools of Personal Empowerment

· Accept No Excuses
Don’t buy into any of the reasons (rationalizations) someone may offer… If someone’s behavior is wrong or harmful, the rationale they offer is totally irrelevant. The ends never justify the means. So no matter how much an “explanation” for a problem behavior seems to make sense, don’t accept it.

· Judge Actions, Not Intentions
Getting caught up in what might be going on in an aggressor’s mind is a good way to get sidetracked from the really pertinent issue. Judge the behavior itself.

· Set Personal Limits
Decide what types of behavior you will tolerate from another before taking some counter-action or deciding to disengage. Second, you must decide what action you’re both willing and able to take in order to take care of yourself.

· Make Direct Requests
When asking for things, be clear about what you want. Use “I” statements. Avoid generalities. Be specific about what it is you dislike, expect, or want from the other person. Use phrases like: “I want you to…” or “I don’t want you to… anymore.”

· Accept Only Direct Responses
Once you’ve made a clear, direct request, insist on a clear, direct answer. Whenever you don’t get one, ask again. Don’t do this in a hostile or threatening way, but respectfully assert the issue you raised is important and deserves to be forthrightly addressed.

· Stay Focused on the Here and Now
Your manipulator will probably try to throw you off track with diversionary and evasion tactics. Don’t let those tactics steer you away from the problem behavior you’re trying to confront. You must make the effort to stay focused, regardless of the tactics thrown at you.

· Keep the Weight of Responsibility on the Aggressor
If you’re confronting an aggressor (or any disorganized character, for that matter) about some inappropriate behavior, keep the focus on whatever they did to injure, no matter what tactics they might use to throw the ball back into your court.

· Avoid Sarcasm, Hostility and Put-downs
Aggressive personalities are always looking for an excuse to go to war. So they will construe any sort of hostility as an “attack” and feel justified in launching an offensive.

· Avoid Making Threats
Making threats is always an attempt to manipulate others into changing their behavior while avoiding making assertive changes for oneself. Never threaten. Just take action. Be careful not to counter-aggress.

· Take Action Quickly
A train without brakes rolling down a mountainside is easiest to stop when it begins to roll. Once it gains momentum, it’s too late to take effective action.
[I believe this is talking about something different than refusing to comply immediately with the request of a manipulator as mentioned by Harriet Braiker. I believe that more of this pertains to letting a manipulator know immediately where he stands with you and differs from jumping quickly to meet demands of a manipulator.]

· Speak for Yourself
Using others as a “shield” broadcasts your insecurity. Deal with your “opponent” on a one-to-one basis. Have the courage to stand up for what you want openly and directly.

· Make Reasonable Agreements
Make agreements that are appropriate, reliable, verifiable and enforceable.

· Propose Win-Win Scenarios
Doing this is extremely important and requires creativity and a particular mindset. But in my experience, it’s perhaps the single most effective personal empowerment tool because it puts to constructive use the aggressive personality’s determination to win.

· Be Prepared for Consequences
If for any reason, they feel defeated, they’re likely to try anything in order to regain the upper hand and a sense of vindication. It’s important to be prepared for this possibility and to take appropriate action to protect yourself.

· Be Honest with Yourself
Know and “own” your own agendas. Be sure of what your real needs and desire in any situation are. It’s bad enough that you can never be sure what a manipulator is up to. But deceiving yourself about your won wants and needs can really put you in double jeopardy.

Empowered Living

Even if you understand and follow all of the rules for more effectively engaging manipulators, life with them is not likely to be easy. However, life with them can be more tolerable, and you can lessen your chances of being victimized, if you keep your awareness high about what they are really like, what to expect from them, and how to empower yourself.

Excerpts from "In Sheeps Clothing: Understanding and Dealing with Manipulative People" by George K. Simon, Jr, PhD. Little Rock, AR: AI Christopher & Company. Original printing, November 1996; Ninth printing, September 2007.

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