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.

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.

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.

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.