When the best tactic is no tactic at all

While trying to decide what to write about in this post I tried one of several tactics in my tactic box to get the rambling online on a blog juices flowing…

I scanned my Pinterest feed and spotted this:


manipulative tactics

which linked to this article – 9 Comebacks For Dealing With a Manipulator


I have to confess that I rolled my eyes while clicking on it and waiting for the link to load, because I expected it to be yet another article (using a number in its title because that’s a trendy tactic when writing things like that to manipulate people into reading your writing) offering advice (promising easy to follow instructions on how to be manipulative that are guaranteed to get you the results which you want – unless they don’t in which case you probably followed the instructions incorrectly or… see the disclaimer they tend to tack onto to these things to cover their asses when their advice fails you) on how to deal with someone who isn’t going to make it easy for you to deal with them using tactics which articles like this advise you to use (because manipulators can read these articles too, and usually do).

My father, a manipulator (who liked to brag and share his tactics – often while manipulating you he would give you an impromptu lesson on how he was manipulating you), was a keen reader of manuals on manipulation. One of his favourites was the favourite of many a manipulator (or manipulator to be) – The Art of War by Sun Tzu.

He liked this quote and… philosophical musing on karmic payback… in particular:


“If you wait by the river long enough, the bodies of your enemies will float by.”
― Sun Tzu


If there is one thing most manipulators have in common it is – patience (as well as patients who have succumbed to their manipulations).

If you say ‘NO!’… they’ll wear you down one way or another until your ‘NO!’… isn’t a ‘NO!’

That article gives some good tips, which is why I shared the link. It’s correct in advising you not to explain your ‘NO!’ once you’ve said it. It’s very tempting to justify why you’re saying ‘NO!’ because… well, we often feel bad for saying it and want to explain (excuse) ourselves… and this is a friendly thing to do in situations which don’t involve manipulators.

Would you like some tea?

NO!… I don’t drink tea, but I’d love some coffee as long as it isn’t a bother.

I only have tea, are you sure you wouldn’t like some?

Thank you, but NO!

Tea is almost like coffee… and I made it fresh, with my bare hands that bled for it. I picked the leaves myself, dried them, walked three hundred miles to fetch the water, boiled it over a wood fire whose wood comes from an old tree that was very loved and then died, it gave its life for this tea…

NO! Tea makes me spew from all orifices, so unless you’re okay with me shitting and barfing all over your beautiful house…

Okay… I have some lemonade, would you like some of that?


If you’re dealing with a manipulator – there is no easy way to deal with them. They’re a manipulator, which means they’re prepared for battle no matter what you throw at them, they are quick to adapt, and are going to manipulate the scenario regardless of what tactics you use – chances are the tactics you’re using are ones they’ve encountered and countered before.


sun tzu


Manipulators are difficult people – difficult people are difficult to deal with.

And if the tactic you’re using is new to you… you’re going to be tested by your manipulator more than you have ever been before because they’re used to you being a certain way with them and if you change how you behave and are with them, they’ll try to get the old version of you back… and the old version of you and how you dealt with them is only a stone’s throw away.

If you’re trying a new tactic… the odds are against you. You may end up being a far worse enemy to yourself and your new tactic than your manipulator, particularly if you’re not comfortable doing it. You’ll lack confidence due to not knowing what happens if you do this… whoever you got this tactic from guaranteed results, but… you’ve never said ‘NO!’ to your manipulator or you did it once and all hell broke loose which is why you never did it again…

If you’re not determined to stick with your new tactic, your manipulator will find a way to make you revert to your usual tactics. Or you might choose to do so either willingly or just because trying to maintain a state (a tactic) which isn’t natural and normal for you takes a lot of effort and energy… so does dealing with your manipulator.


sun tzu - engaging


We only have so much energy…

There is so much in our lives which uses up our energy, the manipulator uses a lot of it but they’re not the only one…

using a new tactic is going to require large amounts of energy, because you’re not just fighting against the manipulator and their tactics, you’re also fighting against what you usually do – you’re resisting them and yourself.

You want to take the line of least resistance but can’t… do you have enough energy to stay the course? Remember your manipulator is patient – they’ll wait you out until your body floats by… and they’ll take your body floating by as a YES! to whatever they wanted.

To deal with a manipulator you have to understand certain things:

1 – You are standing between them and something they want (if you’re the something they want… they’ve got you as long as you’re standing there, doesn’t matter if you’re saying Yes or NO! to them, it’s all the same to them)

2 – If you’re trying to stop a manipulator from manipulating you – you’re trying to manipulate a manipulator which makes you a manipulator (even if you think you’re not and could never be one). They’re a master to your novice and the games of teaching you a lesson have only just begun.

3 – What do you really want? Figure yourself out before you try to out-figure them. Most manipulators use you against you to get what they want, and one of the ways they do that is by sussing out the wants (desires, wishes, dreams, ambitions, etc) which you have that you don’t know that you have, are afraid to admit to yourself (and others) that you have them, keep hidden, suppressed, repressed behind a polished public persona. Because of that you don’t really know what you want and they can get you to want what they want or give them what they want to get what you want.


Sun tzu - know your enemy, know yourself


Sometimes the best tactic is no tactic at all – don’t try and do something which isn’t natural and normal for you unless or until you know what is normal and natural for you.

Once you figure out what is normal and natural for you… you will also figure out what tactic works best for you when dealing with a manipulator.

Trying to use someone else’s tactic, even if it works for them without ever failing… if you don’t understand it, are unaware of the consequences of using it and aren’t ready to accept and deal with its consequences, if it’s foreign to you… it may not be for you and may cause more trouble than the trouble you’re using it to solve.

Explore what others do, what works for them, investigate, research, learn and keep an open mind… but be careful of that open mind.

And always ask yourself when taking someone else’s advice… who is this person whose advice I am taking?

Do you know them, do you know what their life is like, what they are like, have you actually seen them deal with a manipulator using the tactics they’re telling you to use…?


suntzu - tactics and strategy


Ask questions… check your answers.


9 thoughts on “When the best tactic is no tactic at all

  1. Manipulation like this reminds me of playing blackjack in a casino. In case of even the house always wins. You will be slowly plucked like a chicken. The best option is to cash out, go to the bar and relax with a Pinã Colada.
    Do not play, then you will not get played.


    1. That’s an excellent analogy! And good advice 🙂

      If we spot the invitation to play, then we have the option to opt out, but sometimes we find ourselves involved in a game when we thought there was no game and we didn’t know we were playing. It’s like waking up from a dream and finding out that you were sleepwalking, and you sleepwalked into a casino, bet all your savings, and… now what?


      1. I believe it is always possible to opt out. The problem is if the narcissist in your life is your boss or someone else that has a certain degree of control over you. In that case stay low under the radar and do as little as possible, trying to get out as soon as possible.

        Choose your battles with great care.

        I think your example is a bit too constructed for my taste. People always have a choice. It might not seem like that but they always do.
        I remember i case here from Denmark. A drunk person walked into a stripbar and spent around 2-300.000 kr around 40-60.000$ Monday morning he claimed that the stripbar should have rejected him for being too drunk. He lost in court and had to pay the bill. He chose to get drunk…

        When you repeat a mistake.It is not a mistake anymore: It is a decision.

        Never stop learning from your mistakes and never stop making mistakes.


          1. Perhaps my answer is an expression of who I am. I like to be in control. Putting my life in other peoples hands is very transboundary. I guess that could be my weakness.


            1. The desire to be in control is one most humans have – we’re all afraid of what happens when we’re not in control. It ties into magical thinking. And we’re all sensitive to having our boundaries crossed and crossing them ourselves – boundaries = comfort zones. They can be our fortress and our prison, keeping people out and keeping us in.

              Your choice of careers is insightful – this will also play out in your relationships.

              You want to be in charge, of yourself, of others – sometimes we try to control others to control ourselves, and vice versa. You want to be the teacher, the policeman, the one with authority – so who is a compliment to that role you’ve chosen for yourself? Are you choosing people who accept you in that role or people who challenge it (who perhaps also want that role).

              What do those to whom you are attracted tell you about yourself and what you truly are seeking in a relationship (including your relationship with yourself)?

              The more you explore, the more the mystery deepens 🙂


              1. That was what attracted me to the narcissist. She was this sweet innocent woman. I almost felt sorry for her. She made me feel like i was the strong one. As her fangs dug into me i could feel that reality was very much different from my vision. Talk about false declaration. 🙂


  2. I got into a manipulation battle with the ex. it was just tit for tat. Never a full victory. And wears you down if you don’t live life this way. No point is the point, so good point. Thank you for sharing.


    1. A lot of manipulative games are at their root just tit for tat – a manipulator is often just someone who lives in a constant state of titting for tatting and expects everyone else to be the same which is why they’re so paranoid.

      Offer a manipulator a compliment and they’ll spend the next few minutes (sometimes days) trying to figure out wtf you meant by saying they look good today, and they may then try to figure out how to pay you back for your compliment which they will end up turning into a cleverly disguised criticism on your part.

      There was a very funny article I came across awhile ago which gave the ‘real’ meaning of certain gifts, such as – Give someone perfume and it means you think they smell disgusting and need to cover that up. It was meant to be humorous but it also had some truth about the perilous nature of gift-giving. 😉

      At the end of the day if you’re dealing with a manipulator – whatever you do can be twisted, so even if you do something which should guarantee a ‘win’ for you, the manipulator can turn it into a ‘lose’ for you. They have infinite amounts of patience and never stop playing. An incident which happened eons ago – if they lost to you, they’re still trying to find a way to win it. The past never closes for them unless they decide it is closed (because they’ve won and you’re not allowed to go back there and use it to get a win, etc).

      Sometimes it’s best just to walk away when you’ve had enough and who cares if they’re still playing – ultimately they’re always playing with themselves and the gameplay doesn’t really ever truly involve you even if it seems that way.


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