PREVIOUS: POWER – Persuasion
DEF: Manipulate – to negotiate, control, or influence something or someone cleverly, skillfully or deviously.
Almost all business – indeed almost all of life – includes elements of manipulation. In business, negative tactics can be subtle or blatant, part of cultural norms, or press uncomfortably into the unacceptable. Sometimes manipulation data to get a point across clearly or using some other version – to influence an outcome for the good of those involved – are effective & acceptable maneuvers.
But when it concerns working relationships, manipulation depends on hidden agendas & is totally harmful to running a business successfully. A scheming boss or co-worker can easily stir a happy, enthusiastic workforce into a group of disconnected people who don’t trust each other, & end up disliking their jobs. Psychologically, aggression is disguised by manipulation as good intentions.
Power-hungry parents, teachers, bosses, CEOs, religious leaders….. choose to use negative behavior to maneuver & massage the system, working to gain more power & stay on top – for as long as they can get away with it.
Managers can get caught up in the drama of mind-games without realizing it. Manipulators having been successful using tactics honed to a fine art – for years if not decades – bend outcomes to suit private goals. Their tools have to be subtle & subversive, since outrageous & immediately obvious ploys are rarely effective.
When line-supervisors are taken in by corporate power-wielders, subordinates who recognize the tactics will become frustrated by the gullibility of management. Morale will sag, taking with it productivity & erosion of the corporate culture.
However, if the arrogant manipulator goes too far, their outrageous games becoming obvious, or there’s some kind of catastrophe – internally or from outside – then the self-serving impact of the puppeteer is exposed. Unfortunately, by that point, the damage is done.
GOOD NEWS : Leaning about the many exploitive tactics can help leaders & subordinates protect themselves – whatever age or position in life! You many notice how these ‘10 Traps….’ from Ellen Huxtable overlap with characteristics of NPDs & Pathological Narcissists.
⚡️1. Hyper-sensitivity: They meet every challenge with extreme ‘regret’ – eyes downcast, shoulders hunched, lower lip quivering, using tears as a tactic. Message : you’ve caused them such emotional grief & you’re the most evil person on earth.
Your response: Pause, hand over the box of tissues, wait for the tears to pass, & proceed with your talk. If there’s an actual problem, direct the individual to get psychological help.
⚡️2. Ingratiating behavior: They’re charming, understanding & supportive. Idealizing – they look at you with stars in their eyes. You can do no wrong – all your decisions are wonderful, so anyone who questions you is jealous or ignorant. They’re your protege or your pet. You obviously have superior insight about things.
So – when they shyly suggest something ‘helpful’ (which they want for themselves but won’t be good for you or the company), naturally they’ll seem to have “your & the organization’s best interests” at heart. Or not. Beware the flatterer.
⚡️3. Influencing the influencer: This employee has an agenda, a new product, service or process they want to promote. And your response is “no,” or “not right now.”
Not deterred, they’ll find someone they know can influence you – a peer, supervisor or customer, and suggest the idea to them instead.
Ideally, the employee gets them to think it was their idea all along. They approach you with it, but you recognize your employee’s fixation.
Your response: Tell both influencer & employee how interesting it is that they both happened to have the same idea at the same time, then repeat your “No.”
Regardless, they mix absolute, accurate, truthful statements with biased facts, misinterpretations & outright fabrications. When confronted or questioned, they shift position, or deny they ever said any such thing. They ‘helpfully’ clarify your ‘misunderstanding’ – which indicates deliberate dishonesty.
Your response : Carefully separate their facts from fiction, & be very cautious about taking action based on their claims, without substantiating them through one or more reliable other sources.
NEXT : Manipulation #2