The keys to avoid being a victim of emotional blackmail in personal relationships.
Resorting to emotional blackmail to achieve some purpose is a phenomenon that occurs relatively frequently in life.
Obviously, not all people use this technique with the same frequency or with the same skill. In this article we will talk about the implications of this mechanism but above all, how we can protect ourselves to try not to fall victim to emotional blackmail, or to do it as little as possible.
What is emotional blackmail?
If someone wants to know how to protect themselves from emotional blackmail, it is essential that they first know exactly what this expression refers to, since sometimes it can lead to confusion or not be treated with the exactness with which it should be identified in order to identify it without place to doubts.
Emotional blackmail is a behavior by which the blackmailer tries to make the blackmailed person give in to his pressure to perform a certain action due to the feeling of guilt, fear or obligation that he has generated. In this way, the subject who ends up giving in to blackmail is carrying out a behavior that he did not really want to do and that only satisfies the interests of the blackmailer.
This is considered a form of control and in some cases even abuse, depending on the type of actions that are forced to take and the context and relationship between both people. That is why it is essential to know how to protect yourself from emotional blackmail, an issue that we will analyze later.
Fear, obligation and guilt are the psychological tools used by those who use emotional blackmail. For its acronym in English, FOG (fear, obligation, guilt), which means fog, which serves to illustrate the way in which these individuals manage to cloud the judgment of their victims to get them to do what they want, even when they know that they shouldn’t do it, they don’t have to, or they don’t want to.
None of that matters when a blackmailer manages to coerce an individual and convince him of what to do. Some people have a knack for using this technique, and no qualms about doing it. On the other hand, some subjects will be more vulnerable to being victims of this fact, so they are the ones who must pay special attention to how to protect themselves from emotional blackmail.
6 tips to protect yourself from emotional blackmail
You are not always safe from emotional blackmail, but there are certain methods that, to some extent, reduce the chances of falling into them. Below we will explore different techniques and resources to learn how to protect yourself from emotional blackmail.
1. Set limits
It is clear that the first barrier against blackmail is none other than the establishment of clear and firm limits. Obviously, not all people will have the same ability to carry out this task and be decisive when it comes to marking red lines that the blackmailer will not be able to cross, no matter how much fear, guilt and obligation are used.
Knowing how to protect yourself from emotional blackmail implies realizing the importance of these limits. In addition, they must be consistent, because if weakness is shown at a given moment or an exception is made, a precedent will have been set that will be the perfect excuse for the blackmailer to continue perpetrating their works repeatedly.
That is why, once we have decided the limit that we do not want to cross in any way in the face of the action that we are trying to force to perform, it can be made explicit and communicate that in no way will the position be transferred, so person who tries to blackmail us, can stop wasting time on one that is not going to bear any fruit.
2. Statement of power
Another key on how to protect yourself from emotional blackmail is precisely to make a statement of power. This question is closely linked to the establishment of limits, but it is not exactly the same. What the statement of power refers to is the demonstration that the individual is going to be firm in the limits that he has decided to set and therefore is not going to give in to blackmail.
It is a way of making the blackmailer see that, no matter how much pressure he decides to exert, alluding to arguments of fear, obligation and guilt, one is going to remain strong and therefore all the effort will be in vain. you will achieve the intentions you had by trying to make you fall into emotional blackmail.
The ability to make that statement of assertiveness is not the same for everyone, so some will find it easier than others. As with limits, if we want the technique to be effective, we must have consistency and accompany the declaration of power with the appropriate attitude, effectively remaining as firm as we have declared that we were going to do.
3. Train assertiveness
As we said, not all individuals have the same facility to use these strategies, in line with how to protect themselves from emotional blackmail. But one way to facilitate its use is precisely the work of assertiveness. If we learn to communicate a message, no matter how strong, in a respectful and natural way, we will have gained a lot of ground in this regard.
Through assertiveness, we can validate the feelings of the blackmailer himself but also ours, and let him know that it is not possible to access his requests, no matter how insistent, responding calmly and with a respectful attitude, but absolutely firm.
Assertiveness is valid for many other situations, so it is an especially valuable skill, which is therefore worth training.
4. Self-esteem work
Like assertiveness, working on self-esteem is also a great idea. Many blackmailers know the vulnerabilities of their victims and take advantage of it to achieve their goals. One of the most obvious is precisely low self-esteem. Therefore, proper training can serve, among many other things, to know how to protect yourself from emotional blackmail.
Logically, training self-esteem is not an easy task. If you do not have the appropriate tools for this, the best option is to go to a psychologist, who will be your companion in this process and will teach you the ways in which you can achieve your goal.
As with assertiveness, self-esteem is enormously valuable in countless situations, not just to gain strength in order to avoid emotional blackmail. Therefore, all the work that is done with the intention of reinforcing it, will always be a success and will be worth it.
5. Mirror technique
Continuing with the techniques that help us know how to protect ourselves from emotional blackmail, we come to the mirror. It is a relatively simple, but powerful strategy. The idea is to return to the blackmailer the argument of guilt, obligation or fear that he is throwing at us.
In that sense, if he asks us to perform a certain behavior, which we do not want to do, since if certain things will not happen, we can make him see that in reality those unpleasant things could happen if we decide to do the task he asks of us. Using the mirror tactic, we can hit back at the blackmail attempt again and again, until we get him to give up.
Although until now, the techniques on how to protect oneself from emotional blackmail that we have seen have been in the line of being blunt in the task of not giving in and not performing in any case the task that has been demanded of us. The reality is that there are other roads that respond to intermediate points.
If we do not want to do that specific task, but do want a similar one, or partial instead of totally, we can try to negotiate with the alleged blackmailer. Obviously, this type of tactic should only be done if we really have an interest in the behavior that has been asked of us, since if not, the best option would be to set the limits and not give in.
If the specific situation makes both people obtain a benefit, even to a certain extent, it may be interesting to negotiate, and not accept from emotional blackmail but from the desire to participate in the requested activity, in search of that reward that will be obtained .
This list does not include all, but it does include some of the most important tactics so that people in need will know how to protect themselves from emotional blackmail going forward.
- Chen, SY (2010). Relations of Machiavellianism with emotional blackmail orientation of salespeople. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences. Elsevier
- Forward, S., Frazier, D. (1997). Emotional blackmail. Bantam.
- Lin, WR, Chen, HT, Luo, ST (2020). Relationships among emotional blackmail, job frustration, turnover intention for tour leaders. Anatolia. Taylor & Francis.
- Liu, CC, Jhuang, SY (2016). The study of emotional blackmail toward consumer purchasing intention-moderating variables of Self-Esteem. Xing Xiao Ping Mon.