I refer you from time to time back to the book, In Sheep's Clothing, because it is such a helpful little primer on how the aggressive, character-disordered people among us lead us by the nose to get what they want. Recognition of their tactics can go a long way toward helping us avoid the control and manipulation as it is happening.
Mr. Simon presents what he calls two closely related tactics, 'diversion' and 'evasion'. The first tactic is very much like what the magician does. It is how they perform sleight-of-hand. They get you to focus somewhere other than on what they are actually doing:
Manipulators use distraction and diversion techniques to keep the focus off their behavior, move us off-track, and keep themselves free to promote their self-serving agendas. Sometimes this can be very subtle. You may confront your manipulator on a very important issue only to find yourself minutes later wondering how you got on the topic you're talking about then.
He warns us that the manipulator can be very subtle with this tactic. You have to train yourself to recognize when this is happening. Back when I used to watch CourtTV (now TruTV) I started to get good at recognizing when someone on the stand was diverting from the question. The lawyers trained me to listen carefully to an answer to detect when a witness was evading the question. Often the lawyers would point out how their answer was "non-responsive", meaning, whatever the witness just said did not answer to the question. It can be entertaining to recognize when politicians play the same game of distraction and diversion from questions they don't want to get pinned down with because they would find it a political disadvantage to stake out a clear position on some matter. Train yourself to pay attention to whether or not your question is getting answered. Don't let some manipulator distract you and lead you down some other path far from the subject of their misbehavior.
The evasion tactic is:
...closely related to diversion, this is a tactic by which a manipulator tries to avoid being cornered on an issue by giving rambling, irrelevant responses to a direct question or otherwise trying to skirt an issue.
Yet again, politicians are real virtuosos at this one. If you need practice at studying this tactic just watch the politician who is trying to keep themselves from accountability. Obama has been a perfect case study on this lately with his pastor's America-bashing, white-hating sermons coming to light. Obama has been dodging, weaving, and blame-shifting all over the place as he attempts to manipulate the public into thinking that there is nothing wrong with his pastor, and nothing wrong with him for sitting in his pastor's church for the last 20 years.
A subtle, but effective form of evasion is the deliberate use of vagueness. Covert-aggressives are adept at giving vague answers to the simplest, most direct questions. You have to have a sensitive ear for this. Sometimes the vagueness is not so pronounced and you think you have an answer when in fact you don't.
Note again that this can be a very subtle tactic, and you have to train yourself to catch it. We can get tripped up this way by the manipulators we are in relationships with. They will often offer us vague answers or even promises into which we insert what we want it to mean. Not what it actually means. Which is nothing. Which brings me back to Obama. His whole campaign has been a study in vagueness. He has convinced millions he is the 2nd Coming because they think they know what he is saying as he promises 'hope' and 'change'. Those two words contain no information. Yet people insert into those vague words what they want it to mean. I have been marveling for a full year now at how people can hear nothing substantive and yet think they know what this man stands for. I am not saying, by the way, that Obama is a narcissist. I am saying he is using some tried and true manipulation tactics.
Narcissists are very often covertly-aggressive in their dealings with others. In other words, they are constantly fighting for their own way, but they are sneaky about it. We don't immediately recognize when someone is fighting with us to win. If you read under the label of "manipulation tactics" on this blog you'll find some other commonly used tactics by narcissists and other character-disordered types which are nothing more than how they covertly fight you to get what they want. Learn to recognize when you're in a fight. You can better defend yourself that way.
By the way, you may or may not have noticed how I have assiduously avoided talking politics on this blog. I intend it to remain that way. I really have no dog in this fight for the presidency this time around. So, my comments about Obama are not fueled by my giving a flying fig who wins. I am objectively watching this round of politics and seeing Obama from a dispassionate viewpoint. Just sayin'...when the shoe fits... I will not approve comments that become too political and attempt to defend one candidate or another. This ain't the venue. If you don't agree with my observations on how he's been behaving then hashing it out here won't change either of our minds. Just take this information and learn to apply it to the manipulative creeps in your own lives so you can better avoid being taken for a ride by the unscrupulous. By the way, I've seen all three candidates using these tactics. Obama is just the most recent and obvious example.
You can practice learning how to hear when someone is diverting or evading by either watching real court room action or politicians in action. Both are opportunities for practice that allow you to stand outside of the fray, not get swept up in your own emotions because no one is fighting with you or manipulating you face to face. These are a couple of safe places for batting practice. You can hone your skills so the next time you're up against a real-life manipulator you will be better prepared.