Difficult,Deceptive and Dangerous People
In a perfect world, an article like this wouldn't need to be written, and you wouldn't need to read it. Unfortunately we live in the real world, where a good deal of people will partake in unusually deceptive and destructive actions, in order to advance their personal interrests at all costs, or simply for the pleasure of causing others misery!
Manipulation is about gaining leverage, some way of power or coercion. This requires some kind of weakness, and in the absence of a real weakness, manipulators often attack one’s emotions – since that is a universal “weakness” that we all have.
Emotional Manipulation is also sometimes called "Covert Aggression" or “Passive Aggressive” behaviour.
My fascination with manipulation started out with a personal study of power games taking place in the business world and power battles in the board room.
This knowledge however, can serve you well in all areas of your life, as you can never predict where you might have to deal with manipulation, whether in a love-relationship, friendship, co-worker or in your own business.
The best defence against these underhanded tactics is awareness.
Ultimately, manipulation is about power and control.
Warning signs of potentially dangerous people
- Bravado and extreme risk taking with no regard for consequences.
- Unreasonable behaviour with frequent plays for your pity.
- They oddly maintain perfect cool & calm under what should be severely stressful circumstances.
- Exaggerated sense of entitlement.
- Excessive need for control.
- You immediately from the first few minutes get along like wild fire;
the person is incredibly charming; he uses very direct flattery early on;
- You catch them out with blatant lies and they gloss over it as if its no big deal, or again get you to feel sorry for them.
- Impeccable track record of previous high power positions.
- The person sees no hypocrisy in one moment gunning for you, and the next being your best buddy.
- He is extremely adept at spotting and explaining corporate politics and power games.
- The person always seem to cling really tight around the most powerful or influential person in the organisation like water tight buddies.
- Fast talking (machine gun style) in an attempt to distract and confuse you.
- You notice, or someone else comments that "Something is just not right with this person, gives me an uneasy feeling", or very commonly mentioned "Cold dead fish eyes".
Office Politics and Games at Work
Office politics "is the use of one's individual or assigned power within an employing organization for the purpose of obtaining advantages beyond one's legitimate authority. Those advantages may include access to tangible assets, or intangible benefits such as status or pseudo-authority that influences the behavior of others. Both individuals and groups may engage in Office Politics."
At the root of office politics is the issue of manipulation which can happen in any relationship where one or more of the parties involved use indirect means to achieve their goals. In the workplace, individuals have an incentive to achieve their goals at the expense of their colleagues, where resources are limited. For example, if six people apply for one promotion, they might expect the selection to be made purely on merit. Where one of the people believes that this would put them at a disadvantage, they may use other means of coercion or influence to put themselves into an advantageous position. When the people being manipulated begin to talk to each other directly, or when other evidence comes to light such as financial results, the manipulator will have an explanation ready but will already be planning their exit, because they would rather stay in control than face a revelation which exposes their behaviour.
The aim of office politics or manipulation in the workplace is not always increased pay or a promotion. Often, the goal may simply be greater power or control for its own end; or to disrepudiate a competitor. The manipulator will often achieve career or personal goals by co-opting as many colleagues as possible into their plans, strengthening their own position by ensuring that they will be the last person to be accused of any wrongdoing, because they ally themselves with everyone, changing sides to suit their own personal, hidden agenda.
Office politics is a major issue in business because the individuals who manipulate their working relationships consume time and resources for their own gain at the expense of the team or company.
A must read book on the topic, is "Games at Work: How to recognise and reduce office politics".
It covers a huge collection of games in depth, with names such as "The boss said", "Token involvement", "Lowballed baseline",
"Scapegoat", "Not my problem anymore", "Deliberate Leak", "Premature sales recognition", "Pecking Order", "Keep them guessing" and Many More!
I highly recommend the list of games at the books official website: http://www.games-at-work.com/game-of-the-month
Requirements for Successful Manipulation
Successful psychological manipulation can only happen if the following factors are present:
- manipulator concealing aggressive intentions and behaviors.
- manipulator knowing the psychological vulnerabilities of the victim to determine what tactics are likely to be the most effective.
- manipulator having a sufficient level of ruthlessness to have no qualms about causing harm to the victim if necessary.
Vulnerabilities exploited by manipulators
- naïveté - victim finds it too hard to accept the idea that some people are cunning, devious and ruthless or is "in denial" if he is being victimized.
- over-conscientiousness - victim is too willing to give manipulator the benefit of the doubt and see their side of things in which they blame the victim.
- low self-confidence - victim is self-doubting, lacking in confidence and assertiveness, likely to go on the defensive too easily.
- over-intellectualization - victim tries too hard to understand and believes that manipulator has some legitimate understandable reason to be hurtful.
- emotional dependency - victim has a submissive or dependent personality. The more emotionally dependent the victim is, the more vulnerable he is to being exploited and manipulated.
Psychopaths and other problem Personality Disorders
Some estimate that 1/25 people can considered to be either anti-social personality;sociopathic;narcisistic personality disorder; high in machiavellianism;controlling or just generally deceptive.
Psychopaths are people who have absolutely no concern for others and have no emotional constraints - which enables them to do virtually anything. Their chief aim in life is to get whatever they want through elaborate deception and games of control. Not all sociopaths are serial killers. Most just exploit others for money, or for the joy of watching them squirm emotionally.
Whilst most people out there are normal, real good people (even those who sometimes try to deceive you!), a small percentage of people are utterly dangerous to your emotional and material well-being, and in extreme cases your physical well-being.
What is important to understand about personality disorders, are that they are PART OF WHO THE PERSON IS, in other words, you cannot change them. Even with intensive therapy over many years (if they co-operate which is rare), the success rate is EXTREMELY LOW.
They cannot be fixed, they cannot be reasoned with. You can just avoid them.
Here is a very good article about Psychopaths in Business, triggered by the Brett Kebble case.
The bigger the smile, the bigger the arse sphincter envy.Definition: Arse Sphincter Envy
So be careful of those with exaggerated smiles.... its a trap! :-)
Anytime someone makes a point of telling you how honest he is, you can bet he is about to screw you.
(He is constantly worried that his dishonesty will be discovered, that is why he makes a specific point of telling you how honest he is, how he will never screw you etc... Honest people don't need to tell you how honest they are, they just are.)
Read up on the Business Ninja Techniques that I teach.
Find out about my 1-on-1 coaching services in Gauteng.
To post a comment:
This is an enlightening article, however it does not offer much in the way of dealing with deceptive people. Do you have any other article that elaborates on that? Thank you.
A new book from Revelation Consulting reveals the hidden agendas, politics and manipulation that are causing Billions of Pounds of damage to businesses. The new book explains corporate politics and manipulation, why people behave the way that they do and provides a number of solutions for dealing with the business problems that arise from manipulative behaviour in the workplace. Do you have your own stories of office politics, hidden agendas and manipulation in the workplace that you would like to see in print? Just email your contributions to firstname.lastname@example.org and if we use them, you\'ll receive full credit in the book unless you want to contribute anonymously, in which case let us know a pseudonym such as \'Disgruntled from Staffordshire\'. www.askrevelation.com A new book from Revelation Consulting reveals the hidden agendas, politics and manipulation that are causing Billions of Pounds of damage to businesses.
Hahahaha, what a good read. This so apt;y describes someone who tried to con me!!! I woke up in time luckily, but dealing with the aftermath is proving quite tricky and tiresome
and when you expose another for manipulating tactics and you retaliate via your own defense mechanisms - does this mean you are also a manipulator or does this mean that you a protector of your best interests!
Thanks for the feedback. I recommend the book mentioned in the article \"Games at Work\". Generally AWARENESS of how manipulators operate is the first step in protecting yourself. Realising that you are in the middle of a manipulation allows you to re-evaluate the trade-offs in continuing the interaction with the manipulator. @Craig - What is the difference between Pursuasion and Manipulation? Intent is the major distinction. Pursuasion takes into account the other person\'s needs and desires, and tries to find solutions that do not harm others. Pursuasion also avoids deception and lies. Manipulators simply don\'t care about the downside consequences of those they exploit for even relatively minor gains.
This article is so insightful and valuable in protecting others from such predators. OMG. We live in a society and time where there seems to be an epidemic of sinister people who look to exploit and destroy other people\'s lives. It\'s really sad that we now have almost second doubt a person\'s motives and the reasons WHY someone is really around us.
Gosh... just had to fire my business partner. Was a sociopath... even threatened my family, stole clients, threatened to get my business blacklisted with government allies etc... Good riddens to bad rubish!
\"What is important to understand about personality disorders, are that they are PART OF WHO THE PERSON IS, in other words, you cannot change them. Even with intensive therapy over many years (if they co-operate which is rare), the success rate is EXTREMELY LOW.\" - This is really a worth-pondering assertion.
\\\"The best defence against these underhanded tactics is awareness.\\\"- Good!
After many years of wanting to believe the BEST in everyone I have met in the past and NOW the present, this information is astounding. I married someone for over thirty years, who I am now recognizing as a manipulator and Narcissist. I became a part of his SICK game of cat and mouse game without realizing it was ALL part of his pathology. This post is to FOREWARN others to be more careful when someone seems to good to be true, because behind the facade is DECEPTIVE on some or many levels. I HAVE MY EYES WIDE OPEN NOW and they are not rose colored. Best of Luck to everyone who reads this and Buyer Be Ware.