Being manipulated in business can do terrible things for a person’s self-esteem and professional motivation. It involves one person using underhand tactics to achieve their own ends, and at the expense of another’s a success or sense of self-assurance. And, unfortunately, it’s more common than you might think.
Author and Rockstar of the PR industry Luana Ribeira know all too well how untrustworthy people can impact life as a business owner. So she gave us her insights into how to spot the signs and, hopefully, avoid getting caught up with manipulators.
They assert control
Manipulative people often like to be the dominant party, and they will aim to achieve this in a variety of ways, depending on the person. Some will use insincere flattery to get someone on the side, while others will use passive aggression or even outright intimidation to get a person to do what they want. In whatever form it comes, though, the tell-tale sign is that they are trying to force an imbalance in the working relationship so that the dynamic is skewed in their favour.
They skirt around the truth
Manipulators will often mix misinformation or half-truths with outright lies, in order to convince people to do what they want. While this tactic can quite easily fly under the radar, it is usually pretty easy to counteract once it’s been clocked. A person who feels they are being manipulated in this way should ask for more information and for a focus on facts, and can always chase up anything that seems misleading with others in the workplace.
There is no room for compromise
When trying to negotiate something in business, compromise is often essential. In order to retain a healthy working relationship and get the best outcome for both parties, sometimes one or both people have to give a little. But when trying to work something out with a manipulator, compromise goes out the window, and there is no room for a win-win situation. The only outcome a manipulative person is interested in is one where they win outright, and the need to sacrifice is forced squarely on the other person’s shoulders.
They refuse to accept responsibility
When things go wrong, one can be sure that a manipulative person will never accept responsibility. They may be evasive and attempt to redirect attention to something else entirely, just to get the heat off themselves. Or they might react with outrage, in order to make the other person feel guilty for doubting their credentials and ability. This can also happen when they are called out for their manipulative tactics, so it’s important to be wary and ready to deal with such a reaction.
You feel you have to act differently around the person
While it is important to spot the signs of manipulation in other people, it is also so important for the person being manipulated to check in with themselves. They need to ask whether they feel as though they have to conduct themselves differently around the manipulator, and really think about why that is. If someone starts walking on eggshells in order to appease another, feels afraid to pick up the phone to that person, or dreads going into work for fear of how that person will act, then that is a clear sign that something isn’t right.
In this case, it’s important to do something about it. Talk to a higher-up or someone else with experience of the person in question, wise up to their tactics and learn how to counter them, and, if need be, suspend or even completely sever the business relationship.