Have you ever known a person who seemed to take something from you with nearly every encounter? They simply made you feel inadequate in some way, or caused you to second-guess yourself? I noticed a pattern with one particular individual some years ago when I had that feeling.
This person would be fairly subtle about it, but I always felt that I never quite measured up. He would ask me whether I had done something. When I said I hadn’t, he replied, “I would have thought you would have done that.” He seemed disapponted in me, and it wasn’t something I would have expected to do, except in his mind. His agenda for me kept me off-balance.
This type of corrosive manipulation is perhaps not even conscious, but it is noticed by the person on the “minus” end of the dialogue. The person always takes, and seldom gives. On the other hand we are grateful for people who look for ways to build us up without being overly flattering, but in a positive way. They are the givers, and they make our lives better. They tend also to be trustworthy, because they are not out to deflate our worth. Hopefully we are that kind of people.