Picture this; in my continuing adventure entitled; "Rosie attempts to talk to a good looking man and fails", I have a new chapter to add on mince pies.
Tell me more
At work, there is someone who I like. He sits to the right of my field of vision, precisely where my computer is. I can work and stare at him at the same time. He makes the kind of noises that I make; a mixture between a squeak, a whistle and a groan.
I thought; there is a oneness to us. We both make the same noises at work! One day he was all on his own and working hard. It was Christmas and I thought to myself 'I should get him a mince pie'. This idea sounded excellent until I realised that he may not like mince-pie/may be on a gluten free diet/may think I fancy him.
I decided that, seeing as it was Christmas I ought to get him a mince pie. I ventured out to my local café and came back with my prized possession.
I like thee..have a mince pie
I was a little unsure of how to give it to him because I would have to a) be near him and, b) speak to him. What to do? In the end I just sort of chucked the mince pie in his direction; like you might throw a fish to a seal. I did not offer any explanation.
When he gently and quizzically asked me "what is this" I could not think of a reason. I thought that maybe I should say; well because I like you, but then I thought that this might be a bit forward.
So in the end my explanation went something like this. Mustering all my strength, prowess and sultry appeal I squeaked "you work really hard". I was silent and gave no further explanation. I am sure he must have been a little bit grateful, but then I noticed something as I walked behind his desk (totally legit as his desk is on the way to the loo ).
I could see something that nearly made me scream. The mince pie was still there, unopened and in its wrapper. I reasoned to myself that maybe he was saving it for a special occasion. So I walked away and came back – it was still there. I felt deflated and sat behind my desk.
Eventually I blurted out "I am so sorry I got you the mince pie, you do not have to eat it. I just thought that you might like it". I wondered what had bought on this outburst and my mind went into overdrive about how I was hoping to silently force-feed him my mince pie. Then just like that the penny dropped. I realised that I was manipulating the situation to make myself feel better.
Manipulation can be unconscious
Have you ever felt manipulated and if so when? Do you remember the circumstances when it occurred and what it felt like for you? Was it a work or personal situation and did you manage to resolve it? I am guilty of trying to manipulate the situation at hand for my own ends. Sometimes it is conscious – you want a particular outcome and you argue for it.
It might be that you know that a course of action is the one that you need to take because you have certain information that the other party is not aware of. But what can happen is that you unconsciously manipulate a situation. That is what can occur; as per the above. What I wanted was for him to know that I was appreciative and aware of what he was doing.
But then, I did not give him much wriggle room to either accept or refuse my mince pie. He could refuse it; but then he would upset me and he did not have the option of just being able to refuse quietly – I made sure that his positive decision towards a negative outcome was made public; and that he felt bad. Do you see where I am going with this? We can be guilty of manipulation without even realising it.
Try to be conscious and un-manipulative
What is the strategy or end result of our manipulation and what do we want to achieve through it? The bible is pretty clear about manipulation. In Leviticus chapter 25 it says "Do not take advantage of each other, but fear your God." Luke chapter 16 verse 15 says the following; "He said to them, 'You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God's sight'.
The next one is fabulous and sobering at the same time. Galatians chapter 6 verse 7 "Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap". How apt is that last verse and how chastening? When we manipulate, either consciously or unconsciously we can open ourselves up to be manipulated by others. When we say something in order to get a desired result, regardless of the other players in the room, we can and should expect a fall out.
For all my understanding of manipulation which is limited, in my head it works out as a one-time act and to a degree devoid of consequence. I manipulate to get my way, and then there are no repercussions. How different does the bible see this? When have I unconsciously manipulated for my own ends and what are the consequences?
This is not an article in which I will give you an answer, but I hope that it has been thought provoking. Be aware of when you might manipulate either consciously or unconsciously. I will be doing this in future - and avoiding mince pies.
Rosie Robinson resides in Manchester where, in between feeding herself coffee and bagels she works for an international financial services organisation. She attends a lively church called Audacious, enjoys reading, running and watching films and slowly discovering life with Jesus.
Rosie Robinson's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/rosie-robinson.html