Some folks are charming in the most benign and appealing way. They are not only sincerely well-mannered but also genuinely positively regarding of others. The very way in which they conduct themselves and the authentic respect they have for others is “attractive” in its own right. But there are those characters whose display of charm is a farce, part of a calculated use of seduction to take advantage of others.

In order to judge the character of others objectively and accurately, you also have to know yourself pretty well.

While it’s tempting to fault ourselves for being duped, the tactics covertly aggressive and other character-impaired people use are inherently powerful manipulation tools because they throw us on the defensive while simultaneously concealing obvious aggressive intent. And universally, folks familiar with my work reported that merely adopting the different perspective I offered about how to view their manipulator’s behavior was key to them putting an end to future victimization and empowering their lives.

Covert-aggression is at the heart of most interpersonal manipulation. What the artful, subtle fighter knows is that if they can get you to doubt yourself, explain yourself, and question your judgment, there’s a good chance they can get you to back down, back-off, or better still, cave-in.

Recognizing manipulation tactics and knowing how to respond to them is the key to personal empowerment.

Rather than openly assert power over you, covert-aggressors use subtle tactics that not only blind you to their real nature and self-serving agendas but also have the power to bring you to submission and control you.

Once you’re intimately familiar with all the tactics they habitually employ to: 1) get the better of you; and 2) look good while doing it, you can be more sure of your judgments about your manipulator’s character.

2012 was a banner year for consultations. And I owe a big “thank you” to everyone who contacted me. I can truly say that I got as much if not more out of the experience than I trust those with whom I visited did.

A new article will feature an expanded discussion of the important issues and will include even more examples that illustrate how you can know for sure that most manipulators know exactly what they’re doing when they engage in their tactics. Look for it in the next couple of days!

Many of the things we were taught to view as defensive behaviors are more rightfully viewed as habitual responsibility-avoidance behaviors and tactics of impression management, manipulation, and control.

Disturbed and disordered characters are very different from your average neurotic person, especially with respect to their level of awareness about the nature of problems.

When it comes to understanding and dealing effectively with disturbed characters, it’s hard for helping professionals who still embrace traditional models of viewing human behavior to get things right. And those who’ve been in relationships with disturbed characters and sought help through counseling often ended up feeling frustrated, misunderstood, and not validated. Even worse, sometimes, the “monster” they dragged into therapy is so good at impression-management that the therapist appeared swayed. Seeing the disturbed character’s behaviors and tactics for what they really are is a prerequisite for facilitating real change.

By nature aggression that is covertly expressed is hard to detect, especially when you don’t know what to look for.

In sound cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), the focus is always on behavior and in the here-and-now.

Human aggression is most often manifested in the unscrupulous and undisciplined will to power.

Psychology needs to set aside our outdated, well-intended but purely speculative and unverifiable notions about who we are and why we do the things we do and build on the hard science we’ve acquired about our species and the natural world around us.

When disturbed characters make excuses, they’re really making a very conscious attempt to cast themselves in a more favorable light while manipulating others into seeing their point of view.

Shrewd manipulators not only combine tactics sometimes but also have an arsenal of techniques that is virtually endless.

Character-impaired individuals do their best to shift responsibility elsewhere. Your job is to keep the ball of responsibility solidly in their court.

One of the most effective ways for impaired characters to victimize others is to conceal their malevolent intentions while simultaneously prompting their “target” to accede to their desires. Manipulators win by using clever tactics like “gaslighting” to get the other person to back down or give in.