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.