7 Responses that Win With Evil Manipulators
Manipulators create and exploit vulnerabilities for personal advantage.
One manipulator bragged how she could cut people without them knowing it.
3 marks of manipulators:
#1. Want you to feel obliged or inadequate.
There’s a hint of sympathy in their tone when they say, “You think what?” Or, “You really believe that?”
Manipulators won’t tell you you’re stupid. They want you to tell yourself you’re stupid.
#2. Turn your strength into vulnerability.
Manipulators exploit compassion.
“But I thought you liked helping people. Now that I need your help, you’re turning me down.”
Feel free to insert words like reliable, responsible, dependable, or team player in the previous sentence.
Kindness, compassion, and helpfulness become vulnerabilities when you aren’t clear on boundaries or can’t say no.
#3. Want you to feel defensive.
You waste energy defending yourself against false accusations. For example, “But you said you were going to deliver this project yesterday,” when you didn’t make that commitment.
You can’t achieve your goals when you’re in a defensive posture.
Manipulators steal your power by putting you on your heels.
7 responses that defeat manipulators:
- Clarify the request when you start to feel manipulated. “What do you want? For yourself? For the team? For me?”
- “Is this a request or a demand? Will we still be friends if I say no?”
- Restate the request when it seems unreasonable. “Let me be sure I understand. You would like me to …. Is that correct?”
- “I see what’s in this for you. What’s in this for me?”
- Delay. “I’ll think about it.” If you aren’t quick on your feet, give yourself time to think.
- Say, “I don’t do that.” Don’t explain yourself. Every explanation is an opportunity for manipulation. If they ask for an explanation, repeat yourself. “Thanks for asking. But I just don’t do that.”
- Avoid them!
How might leaders spot manipulators?
What responses prevent exploitation?
Check out yesterday’s post: 3 Ways to Spot Manipulative Listeners.
Thanks Dan, needed this today.
You’re welcome Scott. Best wishes.
Having had to deal with a manipulator, I know first-hand how difficult this behaviour is. I was the boss and so my role was to try and work with the manipulator to help him reframe his behavior. It was impossible. Manipulators sometimes have victim psychologies and use their victimhood to justify their behaviour. In my case, the manipulator was a unionized employee so it was doubly difficult. It took several meetings with the union representative and employee for the union to fully understand what we were dealing with. Getting the union to act was even harder – even they didn’t like being manipulated by the employee but it was their job to support him. In the end the manipulator took an early retirement – with lots of support financially from the employer. It was better to pay him to leave than have him remain and continue his reign of manipulation and toxicity.
Thanks People…. Your last sentence says it all. It’s better to pay them to leave than tolerate them and the damage they cause.
I think you’re right. A hardened manipulator things something’s wrong with you when you try to help them.
I’m not sure asking if you’ll still be friends is really appropriate for the work environment…Maybe “will this affect our relationship?”
Thanks Emily. I’m glad you jumped in today. The culture of an organization impacts our approach.
As I read your comment I thought about, How will this affect our relationship? I like “How” or “What” questions.
Interesting post Dan. I have always found manipulators to be very toxic to the team. I go with aggressive engagement and confront with facts. I do tend to let them vent then ask them to come back after I do some research and do not let them force me into a decision right then. I did that with one problem employee and when I invited her back, I had the “other” employee in the room.
Spot on! Good advice not to explain but to say “I don’t do that” and leave it. The more you explain, the more ammunition you give the manipulator, who can counter or dismiss every reason why/why not you provide.
Interesting post. Having been a victim and target of manipulation on more occasions than I wish to admit, it is very humbling and embarrassing to reflect on the situations where you have been manipulated and did not know how to cut it off.
Thank you for the suggestions and smacking me in the head with the truth.
No more nice guy.
‘Avoid them’ … LOL! What is it someone you can’t avoid? I guess use the previous 6 tactics. Manipulators are true bottom feeders.
Learn to say “No”, don’t be a push over!
Stand your ground, manipulation can swing both ways, swing back with your way because.
Really depends who holds the final say. if your powerless to control them, good luck, may have to find common ground first and work from the same side of the fence.
As Dan, mentions, what is the intent your trying to understand? How to get around it?
Sometimes you have to part ways for the betterment of the organization as “People….” mentions.
Manipulators are slippery creatures. They have practiced their craft since childhood, maybe their parents were manipulators too, therefore re-enforcing this behaviour. At first it is hard to spot them as they behave like a chameleon they can change their behaviour to fit the environment/ situation.
Some good techniques for dealing with manipulators can be found in Charly Gullett’s “Cooking Alinsky’s Goose.”
So well said and straight to the point! It seems there’s one in every crowd, a Manipulative Manny! They are behind the scenes stirring stuff up in such a calculated way that you think you are the one in the wrong or inadequate! The seven responses you have highlighted are so clear and concise, they seem to be in perfect order as well. Because these types of people do not want to take responsibility for their own actions or their own work, clarifying their request or intentions (#1) is a great way to for both parties to acknowledge the goal. Additionally, this seems that it could be helpful in delaying the topic until you are better able to respond, and possibly allowing the other person (the manipulator) to recognize that you are not going to be easy to take advantage of. Realizing that although this manipulative person can be intimidating and sometimes just a menace, they are probably dependent on others. Often, I have found that the person is insecure in themselves or their capabilities and it can be helpful to try to understand the root of the manipulative tendencies and use compassion to ultimately defuse the situation.
These are some great strategies that let you recognize what is going on and how to best address it! I look forward to reading about how to identify manipulators in the next article!