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How to Recognize "Red Flag" Communication

In the world of business and networking, communication is key. However, not all communication is created equal. Some approaches can be manipulative and harmful, leading to misunderstandings and strained relationships.

As someone who receives a lot of direct messages (DMs) from various individuals, I have encountered my fair share of unhealthy communication styles. This week was no exception, highlighting a prime example of what I consider a red-flag correspondence technique.

A person reached out to me with a cold DM, looking to engage in a sales conversation. When I did not respond immediately, they resorted to guilt-tripping and shaming, suggesting that I didn't like talking to other coaches. Aside from being an odd thing to say to a total stranger, this behavior is a clear indication of a manipulative and maladaptive communication style.

While it might seem like a simple example, it's essential to be aware of such tactics and to know how to respond when faced with them. This is only one of the red flags used in communications that can lead to one-sided, unhealthy relationships. Here are some tips for recognizing a few other ones so you can avoid being drawn into an unhealthy interaction:

  1. Guilt-Tripping: When someone tries to make you feel guilty for not responding or not engaging in a certain way, it's a red flag. They may use phrases like, "I thought you cared about XYZ," or "You're letting me down," or "I knew I couldn't rely on you."

  2. Shaming: This involves making you feel bad about yourself or your choices. It can be overt, like name-calling, or more subtle, like implying that you're not good enough.

  3. Passive-Aggressive Behavior: This includes making snide remarks, giving backhanded compliments, or using sarcasm to express their dissatisfaction or disapproval. Watch for phrases such as, "I guess you're not who I thought you were."

  4. Blame-Shifting: Instead of taking responsibility for their actions or words, they shift the blame onto others or external factors. For example, the person in the story above showed up in my feed complaining about being in Facebook jail and not knowing why, blaming the system for their situation instead of exploring the possibility that their communication style may have rubbed more than one person the wrong way.

  5. Gaslighting: Gaslighting is a form of manipulation that involves making someone doubt their own thoughts, feelings, and perceptions. It can be subtle, such as denying something was said or done, or more overt, like accusing the other person of being too sensitive or crazy.

Manipulative communication has ONE GOAL - to get you to do or agree to something for that person's benefit. To avoid being drawn into this type of interaction, it's important to set boundaries and stick to them. Ask yourself: "Who does this behaviour benefit?" and RUN the other way if it is clearly one-sided.

My point? If someone uses manipulative tactics, don't allow yourself to be sucked in. You don't need to engage in red-flag conversations, especially with a total stranger. Instead, surround yourself with people who show up authentically and treat you respectfully. If you feel someone is using manipulative tactics, you can simply block and flag them as spam, freeing your life and your energy for people who prioritize healthy, supportive interactions.


If you would like support in setting boundaries, saying no, or working with guilt/shame, please don't hesitate to reach out to me personally or join the Permission To Shift HUB community, where you can learn how to effectively work with your inner world for only $7/mo. <3

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