How to master manipulation

How to Manipulate People


Adam Dachis

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There are times in life where people don't give you what you want, but you don't have to settle for disappointment. When life gives you lemons, manipulate the lemon salesman. Here's how.

Photo by byronv2

It's worth noting that manipulating people is generally a bad thing to do. Please do not take this advice. Instead, use it as a guide to spot manipulation in your day-to-day interactions and protect yourself from manipulative people. Such is the goal of Evil Week.

Emotion vs. Logic

The easiest way to manipulate people—especially Americans—is by playing on their emotions. If you let people think too much they're more likely to make a logical choice. If you can guide them to feel a certain way—a way that benefits you—you'll have a much easier time getting what you want. This is what emotional manipulation is all about.

Master Your Own Emotions

Ideally your target won't have an exceptional amount of control over their emotions, but that doesn't mean you get to be lazy. A master manipulator needs to be able to act. Shedding a tear when it suits your needs or losing yourself in a fit of rage are both important skills you'll want to master. Whether you want to incite fear, sympathy, or anything else will depend on the situation, so it's important to master your own emotions so you'll have the proper tools for the task at hand.

Be Charming and Flirt Often

But you can't just cry and throw tantrums whenever you want something—people have to like you. Charm is an important part of manipulating people. If you're ridiculously likable most of the time, when you react with extreme emotion it'll have a greater impact. Having control over your emotions also involves keeping them in check most of the time and not just being able to act.

Charm is great, but when you can flirt you should. Because manipulation generally makes the target feel poorly, whether they understand that they're being manipulated or not, the more they like you the better. Disregard the boundaries of your own sexuality and throw in some suggestive touches when you think they'll be effective. This tactic is especially effective with people who are lonely and have low self-esteem.

Overcome Trust Issues and Heal Doubt

People who've been manipulated a number of times before are generally on the lookout for this kind of behavior and don't trust people easily, so you need to watch for signs. If you believe trust is an issue, the quickest way around that problem is to share something very personal and very private with the target. It's always best if it's relevant to them, or if they feel you trust them enough to confide something so personal. It's not important that your story is true, but that they believe it. Again, acting is key.

The biggest enemy you'll have when trying to manipulate another person is doubt. If they don't notice something fishy about your behavior, they might start to notice that they're not acting like themselves. Hopefully, at this point, you've managed to learn a few of their problems and what they want to change about their lives. If they openly question the way they're acting, remind them that change is often uncomfortable but they need to go through this tumultuous period in their lives to make positive progress. Save any negativity for a necessary emotional outburst. Positivity is always your best friend when trying to convince people to do what you want. Negative manipulation should only be used when necessary. Too much negativity will make you an ineffective manipulator.

Conceal Evil in Altruism

You have to seem like a good person, even if you're not. If you ever need to take a negative action like criticizing behavior, blaming another person (whether it's their fault or yours), or even yelling at the target, you should always find a way to wrap it in altruism. It can be very hard to hate an altruist and so it's very effective to paint yourself as one. For example, if you yell at your target for not doing something you wanted, it's better to frame the outburst as a means of helping them. You can apologize for the outburst and tell them you felt they weren't acting in their best interest. You're sorry you got so emotional, but you care about them and want the best for them and it scares you to think that they don't have their best interests at heart. On the other side of the coin, when criticizing someone else's behavior, remind the target that you're there for them no matter what horrible thing someone else does. Always ask how you can help rather than simply criticize what others do.

What to Do If You're Discovered

Many novice manipulators make the mistake of resorting to the tactics described above when they're discovered. If your target pins you as a manipulator, the worst thing you can do is exhibit manipulative behavior in response. If you're caught, be a normal and calm person. Let them be in control of the situation, and don't defend yourself. Once you're in the hole of being caught, the only way to get out is create doubt—the kind of doubt that benefits you—in the mind of your target. If you don't react like a traditionally manipulative person, they'll likely wonder if their assumption about you was correct. In most cases they'll already feel attached to you and will jump on any excuse to believe you're truly a good person. Often times "catching you" is simply because of something a friend—or another manipulator—told them. Be smart, be careful, and be prepared to surprise if you find yourself discovered.

Does this sound like a manual a friend of yours follows? Have you been a target for manipulation in the past? If you've got any tips on detecting manipulators and understanding how they operate, let's hear 'em in the comments.

7 Manipulation Tactics to Know

Manipulative tendencies can surface in any relationship. Knowing what to look for can help you avoid them.

Manipulation can happen to anyone in all kinds of relationships, from friends and romantic partnerships to parents and family relationships. Even work colleagues and your boss might have manipulative tendencies.

Yet, a manipulative person can be hard to recognize.

Manipulation in relationships can sometimes be so subtle and effective, you may wind up questioning your perception of the situation, rather than the other person’s actions or motives. Gaslighting can make discerning manipulative tactics especially difficult.

But by learning what to look for, you may be able to protect yourself from manipulation tactics and psychological games before they start.

Manipulative people often use common manipulation tactics and behaviors to get what they want. Here’s what to look for.


Guilt-tripping is when someone tries to make you feel responsible or guilty of your actions or decisions.

Drake explains that guilt trips often involve using something one person did for the other as “leverage” to get what they want.

Some examples of guilt-tripping might be:

  • “If it wasn’t for me, you wouldn’t have gotten through college. You owe me.”
  • “I’m the one who is working all the time, while you are spending time with friends. I deserve this expense.”
  • “If you can’t come over, then I might as well not invite anyone else that night. There’s no point then.”


People with manipulative tendencies often lie to try to control or coerce others, as well as avoid blame or consequences for their actions.

For example, a teenager who’s been told they are not allowed to hang out with a particular group might lie about their whereabouts. Or, they may lie to the other parent about being given permission to go out with their friends.

“If one parent doesn’t check in with the other parent, the teen may be given permission to go with those friends,” Drake explains.

Pathological lying may be a sign of a mental health condition.


It can be hard to tell the difference between a compliment and flattery.

A compliment is given to sincerely point out something positive with no expectation of gain. But flattery is often used disingenuously as a tool to gain emotional leverage. With flattery, there’s often an expectation of getting something in return.

For instance, someone who wants a raise or promotion might regularly praise their manager’s strengths and accomplishments.


Projection happens when one person claims an emotion they’re feeling — such as jealousy — is actually being experienced by someone else.

For example, a person with manipulative tendencies might cause tension and drama, but blame someone else for creating that energy.

Maggie Holland, a licensed counselor in the state of Washington, explains that projecting aids a person who manipulates in dodging responsibility for their actions and helps them avoid changing their behaviors. “But it can also erode your trust in your own reality,” she adds.

If you think you might be projecting, Holland suggests pausing and asking yourself: “Is this my stuff or their stuff?” This can be helpful for disrupting projection.

“It’s also really important that we don’t project our own values onto a manipulator, because that just sets us up for a lot of disappointment and frustration,” Holland adds.

‘Moving the goalposts’

Sometimes, no matter how much you show up for someone who manipulates, they will change their expectations at the last minute to keep you constantly running toward their “goalposts.”

Someone who moves the goalposts can set you up for frustration and exhaustion.

Holland explains that with manipulative people, “you’re never going to actually reach those goalposts, and your efforts and success won’t be acknowledged if you do.”

Believing in yourself, recognizing your own needs, and disengaging can be helpful for avoiding feelings of demoralization.

Holland suggests working to understand your personal values, goals, and standards to feel like you met your own expectations.

“Remind yourself that you’re just a human being, doing the best you can, and that is enough.”


Triangulation can take many forms, but often happens when a third person is brought into your communication, instead of keeping the issue between the two people it impacts.

For example, a manipulative person might involve your mother in a disagreement to take their side against you. “Now, all of a sudden, you’re disagreeing with two people and the odds are not in your favor,” Holland explains.

According to Holland, triangulation often keeps manipulative people from having to take responsibility and may protect them from feeling like they’ve lost an argument.

Becoming aware of triangulation can be helpful for spotting it. Try to disengage with “triangles” whenever they come up unfairly.

“This means you’re going to have to set and stick to some firm boundaries, but remember that boundaries are not meant to control people, but to ensure that you’re still able to remain in a relationship with them in a healthy way,” says Holland. “Boundaries are not heartless, they’re actually really healthy.”

Love bombing

Love bombing is manipulation through excessive attention, often showering you inappropriately with gifts, compliments, affection, and time.

These things may be wonderful, which can be confusing. However, love bombing is when this feels enrapturing, takes all your attention, and is excessive.

“It might feel great at first, but it usually leaves you isolated and makes you lose sight of who you are,” Holland explains. “Once you’re ‘swept away,’ this attention might stop, and will leave you feeling like you’re seeking it out or chasing it down again.”

If you’ve already experienced love bombing and are on the other side, give yourself patience and work to forgive yourself. “You’re not blind. A manipulative person took advantage of your normal human nature to want to feel desired and cherished,” Holland adds.

Some ways to avoid love bombing include:

  • regularly spending time with friends and loved ones
  • engaging in your own interests outside of this person
  • checking in with yourself often to ensure that you’re aligned with your values and standards

Manipulation is coercive or unethical behavior driven by the goal of exploiting or controlling another person for your own personal gain.

Taylor Draughn, a licensed professional counselor, and marriage and family therapist, explains that manipulation “can be a very effective way to get what you want, but it can also be very dangerous.”

She adds, “If someone can manipulate you, they can control your actions and your thoughts. It is important to be aware of the signs of manipulation so that you can protect yourself from this type of abuse.”

While manipulative tendencies are often subtle and sometimes undetectable, there are four stages of manipulation.

  1. Flattery. The first stage is when the person who manipulates puts on a facade of being kind, caring, and helpful. “They may act like they want to help you with anything you need, but in reality, they’re just trying to get what they want from you,” Draughn explains.
  2. Isolation. This is when the person who manipulates may start to isolate you from your friends and family. They might try to convince you that your loved ones don’t understand you or want to control you. The goal is usually to separate you from people who might spot the manipulation, Draughn explains.
  3. Devaluing and gaslighting. During the third stage, someone who manipulates may try to make you feel guilty or confused. “They might start telling you that you’re ungrateful, or that you’re making them unhappy,” says Draughn. The purpose of this stage is to make you doubt yourself, your instincts, and your decisions. “It can be very difficult to break free from the manipulator’s control at this stage,” Draughn adds.
  4. Fear or violence. The fourth and final stage is when the person who manipulates may begin to threaten you. According to Draughn, they may threaten to leave you, hurt you, or hurt themselves as a way of keeping you under their control with fear. “It can be very difficult to break free from someone who is using threats as a form of manipulation.”

People manipulate others for many reasons, including:

  • Control. People who manipulate might be driven by a need for control or controlling tendencies, which may feel thrilling.
  • Low self-esteem. Manipulation can be a way for a person to avoid feeling bad about themselves. Jason Drake, lead clinician and owner of Katy Teen & Family Counseling, says that “People manipulate largely due to lack of self-confidence or self-esteem.” “They may not feel that they have the ability to get what they want on their own merits,” he says.
  • Ego. A common reason among narcissistic people, someone who manipulates “may believe that they are the brightest and most capable person around, and might use manipulation to feed their ego that they can outsmart others and gain from their efforts,” Drake explains.
  • Personal gain. A manipulative person might use these tactics to obtain something they want, such as money, power, or attention.
  • Avoidance. Manipulation might offer a way to avoid taking responsibility for their own actions.

Manipulation can be sneaky, but you can work to avoid it with these strategies:

  1. Know the signs. People who manipulate often exhibit similar types of behaviors. Watch out for people who are overly friendly, make empty promises, or try to make you feel guilty, Draughn explains.
  2. Be aware of your emotions. Evoking strong emotions is at the core of most manipulation methods. “People who use manipulation often play on your emotions, but remember that you can’t let them control how you feel,” says Draughn.
  3. Stay calm. It can be important to stay in control of yourself and not lose your cool when dealing with people who manipulate. “Don’t let them rattle you or get under your skin,” Draughn explains.
  4. Avoid personalizing. Even though manipulation can be hurtful, try to internalize that this behavior has nothing to do with you. “Manipulation has more to do with the other person and their inability to meet their own needs in a healthy way,” says Drake.
  5. Listen. While it doesn’t feel good for someone to attempt to manipulate you, being confrontational can inflame the situation. Try listening with empathy so that you can identify what their needs or wants are, Drake suggests.
  6. Respect your boundaries. After listening to the other person and feeling that you are being manipulated, it’s important to hold healthy limits and boundaries in check. “If you respond respectfully, yet assertively, and [don’t] give in to the manipulation, over time, they will generally see you as someone their tactics don’t work on and will move on,” Drake explains.
  7. Tell someone you trust. It can be emotionally draining and hurtful in dealing with someone who is manipulative. Talking with a close friend or family member about what you’re experiencing can be healing. “Close friends and family can often give you great feedback and advice, and it’s helpful to have a listening ear when dealing with someone who manipulates,” Drake adds.

People with manipulative tendencies may use these tactics to manipulate others for a variety of reasons.

If you have been the target of manipulation, it can feel confusing and hurtful. Try to understand that a manipulative person’s behavior is not a reflection of you, and you don’t have to accept negative treatment and manipulation.

Manipulation can sometimes be subtle enough to go unrecognized. But more often than not, manipulative people use similar behaviors that can be spotted. Knowing what to look for and responding can help you avoid manipulation.

The effects of manipulation can impact your mental health. Talking with a therapist can help you process what’s happened and teach you new skills for moving forward.

If you’re ready to seek help but don’t know where to start, check out Psych Central’s guide to finding mental health care.

The Art of Deception: How to Learn to Manipulate People in a Subtle Way

The techniques that attackers use to try to gain access to your passwords or data are based on social engineering, the science of manipulating people's behavior. Christopher Hadnagy, world-famous social engineer, talks about how to recognize manipulation, and Forbes Life publishes an excerpt from his book The Art of Deception, which will be published by Alpina Publisher

We live in an age of emojis, memes, 280-character messages and social media posts. The pace of technology development is amazing. However, these same technologies have created conditions in which people have forgotten how to observe the interlocutor. That is why we started our analysis of the topic of collecting information from methods that do not involve the use of technology.

Finished reading here

Book cover

Now you may be wondering:

— What does the term "observation skills" mean?

— How can these skills be developed?

- What will it do?

Let's discuss each of them and see what you can notice and understand.

What does observational skills include?

Several scenarios are described below, reflecting the application of observation skills in life.

Scenario one

Your task is to get into the office of a large medical clinic. And do it in daylight. Picking locks, climbing fences and climbing through windows is not allowed. You need to check whether the reception and security staff will allow you to enter a room with limited access. In other words, you need to get into the clinic and get into those departments where only staff is allowed to be.

Here are some data you can collect from open sources through observation:

Clothes. This simple factor is usually given little attention, but in vain. Back in the first chapter, I said that social engineers need to push the target to make rash decisions. Therefore, if you dress up in a three-piece suit when trying to enter a building where all employees come in casual clothes, you will definitely attract everyone's attention to yourself. So you need to understand how others will be dressed, and look accordingly.

Inputs and outputs. Entry and exit points must be found in advance before entering the site. Is there a smoking area through which one can enter the building? Are all entrances protected equally? When the guards turn in their shift, what entrances are left unguarded or without due attention from the guards?

Organization of passage. How is access to the territory and the building organized? Do employees have badges and passes? Which? Where are they usually fixed? Do I need to know some code? Is there a procedure in which third-party visitors are escorted through the territory to their destination by a security guard? Do they get special passes? Finally, does the planned entry point to the building have turnstiles, security posts or other obstructions?

Perimeter security. Find out what usually happens outside the building. Are there surveillance cameras installed? Do guards walk around the area? Are the trash cans closed? Are alarm systems or motion sensors installed?

Security personnel. How do they work: do they sit relaxed, staring at the screen of a phone or computer, or are the guards always on the alert and carefully watching what is happening? Do you think they are bored or interested at work?

Organization of space. Does the location of the access systems allow you to peep the password from behind the shoulder of the person standing in front? (In other words, is it possible to get close enough to the company's employees to see what code they use to sign in?)

Of course, there are still a lot of things to pay attention to, but these are the main ones.

To make you understand why I single them out, I'll tell you one real story in which clothes, entrances and exits, organization of passage to the territory and perimeter protection played the most important role. Together with Michelle (later my technical consultant during the work on this book), we had to implement the scenario that I described at the beginning of this subsection. To collect the necessary data from open sources, we, of course, used technological tools (which I will discuss in more detail later). But a lot of attention was also paid to non-technical intelligence.

As a pretext for the invasion, we chose the legend that a vermin company was supposedly called in to exterminate the breeding spiders. We called our “company” Big Blue Pest Control and chose the appropriate props: blue uniforms and spray bottles that we filled with “poison” for spiders (actually, the bottles contained bright blue isotonic from Gatorade).

To begin with, we went around the perimeter of the clinic, noted all the entrances and exits, the location of the cameras and smoking areas. We paid attention to where more and fewer people gathered. We noted how employees wear badges and how they dress. Then we chose a suitable, in our opinion, point for penetration and headed for the door. We needed to collect as much information as possible about how exactly the passage to the territory was organized.

Two guards watched as the officers put their passes on a metal machine and went inside. In addition, on the right was a security desk, behind which sat the employee responsible for registering visitors.

We decided to walk past the guards, blending in with the crowd. It didn't work: we were immediately stopped and asked what we wanted. I read the name on the badge of the nearest guard and said, “Hello, Andrew. We were asked to tell about the services of our company for the urgent destruction of spiders ... "The guard interrupted me in mid-sentence:" Ok, register at the counter.

I was glad that the job was done, but then the employee at the counter asked for our names. I made up something on the go, but he rummaged through his papers and said: “Unfortunately, you are not on the list of visitors. Unauthorized persons are not allowed to enter without a pass.

We tried to explain, asked for help and even tried to put pressure on him. Did not work. I had to turn around. We left through the main entrance and decided to go around the building one more time and at the same time discuss our further plan of action. And then I noticed how several people went out to smoke. I asked Michelle to wait and approached the smokers, while behaving like this, the word is busy with an important matter: I inspect the territory and make notes in a notebook.

Then we slowly continued around until we noticed a group of people heading for another door - and followed them. A corridor began behind the door, but it turned out that it led to the same checkpoint where we had just been turned around. Then I saw an elevator to my right - but without a call button. “Damn it, apparently they are being controlled from a security post,” I had time to think, as the elevator doors swung open. I immediately stepped inside, hoping that Michel would notice and follow me.

Fortunately, in such situations she feels like a fish in water, does not get lost and does not worry. There was already a group of people in the elevator. Loudly so that everyone could hear it, Michelle began to moan, addressing me as a boss: “Are we going to finish soon? I'm just dying of hunger, and you said that there will be no dinner until we finish everything.

One of the fellow travelers looked sternly at me and said: “They should give the man something to eat!”
To which I replied:

- I would love to, but we still have one more floor to check. And the sooner we do that, the sooner we'll go to lunch.

The woman sighed and asked:
— So which floor are you on?
— To our office, — I answered confidently.
The woman took out her pass, swiped it over the indicator, then pressed some combination of buttons on the screen and said:

— Now we'll drop you there.

Phew! We were lucky: thanks to Michelle’s incredible powers of observation and my ability to react quickly, we not only didn’t get caught by the guards, but also got an employee as an unwitting assistant and went through her pass to the guarded floor (by the way, Michelle was not very cunning, because she is always hungry).

We exited the elevator on the office floor and ran into a closed door with a sign that said, "If you need help, call." Well, we called.

A woman answered us:
— How can I help?
We repeated our story about the presentation, to which she said:
— Okay, I'll just call security and get the go-ahead from them.
If she did, of course we would be thrown out, so I said:
- Call if you want. But actually Andrew sent us here.
— Eh, Andrew? Then come on.
The woman opened the door and added:
— Just don't touch the letters, please.

We calmly shoveled the whole room: moved the ceiling tiles and stacks of letters, poked around in the wires.

As you can see, what happened was largely due to observation and the ability to sort the information found (and this was only the very beginning of the operation).

I had no idea if the name Andrew would be useful to me. Michelle could not have known in advance that we would come across a compassionate employee in the elevator. And none of us expected to meet a group of smokers who would not care at all that we entered the building after them. However, thanks to observation, all these trifles provided us with the conditions necessary for the success of the operation.

Scenario two

How do you like this task: to spear-phish a top lawyer from a large American law corporation? Condition: only information from open sources can be used to prepare the operation.

We will explore this story in more detail in the section on collecting information using technology. However, now I would like to share the story of my failure in the assignment, as well as the important lessons that I learned from this failure.

In completing the task, we found out that the lawyer, among other things, handled some cases in the state of Massachusetts. It was there that shortly before the events described, the tax legislation changed. I thought that this news would surely attract her attention and force her to open the file attached to the letter.

I began drafting the State Law Change Letter and planning every step of the operation in great detail. The letter was written in a professional manner, there was not even a hint of any threat in it, but there was a huge temptation to open the infected file. The fact is that the letter formulated a realistic timeframe for reading and formulating a response, and besides, it was detailed just to the extent that the recipient wanted to click on the link that promised to continue.

Alas, within minutes of sending the letter, our plan was figured out and the operation failed. Did you guess where the mistake was made?

Massachusetts is not legally a state, but a commonwealth. A lawyer who was obligated to pay attention to details received a letter about changes in the Massachusetts tax law and said to herself: “Hmm, because they should know that this is not a state!” She then took a closer look at the sender's address and the link to the document, which made her suspicious enough to complain of spam. The scam failed.

For our part, we did not pay attention to this "trifle", and the lack of observation in this case cost us dearly.

Conclusion? Observation must always be maintained, there are no insignificant details. Think like the person you are trying to influence. Try to understand what he is waiting for, and justify his expectations. Otherwise, the devil, hidden in the details, will destroy you.

How to master these skills?

This topic is difficult to fit into a short book chapter. Each person has an individual set of innate and acquired abilities that can both complicate and facilitate the process of mastering skills. And since we don't know each other personally, the only thing I can do is talk about my own method.

It can be compared to playing Capture the Flag. When I enter a new building (for example, a dental clinic), I say to myself: “I will need to remember the first two people I see: the color of their clothes, what they are doing.”

Also, I set my own limiting conditions:

- These people should not be representatives of the wait staff behind the counter.

- Do not forget about the main task or deviate from it.

- No records!

So, while I'm in the building, I watch and try to remember as many details as possible until I go outside. It turns out something like:

An elderly woman was sitting on the left in a blue sweater and was reading Woman's Day magazine.

A boy in a striped T-shirt was laying out cubes on the floor.

I make such notes in my mind and try my best to remember them. To do this, I use various mnemonic techniques: for example, I repeat information several times, trying to imprint it into memory.

Once I get the hang of taking these mental notes without extra effort, I make it harder. In the end, my "flags" look something like this:

- What gender were the people.
- What are they wearing.
- What were they doing when I saw them. - The subject -applied communicative profile of everyone - that reported the language of their body.

Based on these data, I formulate in my mind a story about why they ended up in the place where I found them. With the help of this story, I remember the necessary information.

Honestly, this method gave great results. Even with my terrible memory, I managed to remember the office I went to three or four years ago and where I met two women in black skirts and white button-down shirts reading from their iPads. One of them obviously didn't like her neighbor (well, or she just needed to go somewhere). I came to this conclusion because, although the women were sitting side by side, the body of the one on the left was directed in the opposite direction.

There was also a man in the uniform of a security guard behind the counter: I remember his black suit, white shirt, black tie. He wore a gold watch on his right wrist, from which I deduced that he was left-handed. His hair was neatly combed and his beard trimmed. He kept a close eye on me and everyone in the hall, making handwritten notes in a notebook.

A young man sat on a chair by the counter with a newspaper in his hands. But it seemed to me that he was only pretending to be reading, while he himself was looking at one place and the edges of the newspaper were shaking. I made up a story that he came to the interview, of course, was nervous and unsuccessfully tried to distract himself by reading.

Now, when I write these lines, I imagine this room absolutely clearly, as if I am in it. Small observations can be of great service to you as a social engineer. Also, I recommend keeping track of your weaknesses and building on them, starting small. Feel this thought: without practice in our business, nowhere. Too often I meet people who want to achieve everything at once. However, it takes time to develop any skill.

Failures can teach us even more than successes - if we allow ourselves to learn, of course. That is why I have to talk separately about expectations.

Skillful manipulation: how to communicate with intolerable people

Even if you decide to complain, you are unlikely to be believed: manipulators are too persuasive. How to properly build communication with manipulators, too sensitive and passive-aggressive people - in Richard Templar's book "Rules for managing people. How to unleash the potential of each employee”, which is published by Alpina Publisher at the end of January

It is sometimes difficult with everyone, but there are people with whom it is almost impossible or even dangerous to communicate. They can be aggressive, seek to control everything, or be negative. Difficult people will still be difficult, but if you understand their secrets, strategies and tricks and adapt your behavior, then you can get along with them. Forbes publishes a chapter from Richard Templar's book The Rules for Managing People. How to unleash the potential of each employee» - on how to deal with hypersensitive people, passive-aggressive and manipulative characters.

Finished reading here

Sensitive people can't get tough

I once worked with a guy who could be thrown off balance by literally anything. The slightest hint of criticism, a sad story from the news, any kind of negative emotion that someone showed in his presence. Dealing with him sometimes became difficult - if you needed to somehow constructively evaluate his work, it was like walking on eggshells.

If you yourself are not such a hypersensitive person, communicating with such people is probably a problem for you. Therefore, I have included hypersensitive people in the section on difficult people - because it is sometimes very difficult to communicate with them. However, unlike most of the other types described here, sensitive people are not at fault. Most likely, they were born that way, and we need to learn to adapt to them. At the same time, they are often the first to identify potential problems and dangers, and they can also be excellent diplomats, because they know how not to upset people. They usually treat others the way they would like to be treated, so they rarely treat someone rudely or inconsiderately. It makes no sense to advise them to "be tougher." They can't, and they really shouldn't.

The problem, especially if you have slightly thicker skin than them, is not to upset them. Therefore, next to them you need to be very careful. Hypersensitive natures perfectly capture any hint or innuendo, so just be kind and thoughtful.

Of course, sometimes it is necessary to tell such a person that his work is not up to standard or that something has gone wrong in your relationship. Assuming that he is not at the same time an emotional blackmailer, then even if he bursts into tears, he will not do it in order to make you feel guilty. It will just be an uncontrollable emotional reaction. Try to get him to recognize problems on his own: “There's still room for improvement here. What do you think would help speed up the process next time?” With this approach, he himself will make constructive proposals, and you will only have to agree.

Note that the phrases in this example are built impersonally. Not “what can you do to speed up the process?” But “what would help speed it up?”. This makes it easier to avoid personalized criticism. If your partner is hypersensitive, you can say, "I was terribly upset when I tried to start the car and found that there was no gas in it" instead of "because you spent all the gas."

When dealing with a hypersensitive person, focus on the positive and use a carrot instead of a stick. Explain to him what you want, not what you don't want. You want to always have some amount of gasoline left in the car. There is no need to talk about the fact that otherwise you are angry.

An elementary school teacher once told me that he had a "list of students not to yell at" because they couldn't stand it. Likewise, hypersensitive people should be on your list of those to avoid if you are in a bad mood and easily pissed off.

Passive-aggressive people are afraid of conflicts

I remember, as a teenager, one day I came home very late. An elderly relative was visiting us, and the next morning at breakfast she said to me: “I hope you had a good time? Yes, probably, since you did not come home until twenty minutes past three! It was said with enthusiasm, and I should have smiled back, but I understood the implication perfectly. What she really wanted to say was, in front of my mother, “You woke me up when you got home!” That's why she knew exactly what time it was.

The purpose of passive-aggressive behavior is to criticize or complain without going into open conflict. We all do this sometimes, but for some people it's normal behavior when they're upset or angry. Usually such people are afraid of conflict, usually because they have some unpleasant memories associated with it, but they do not want their disappointment to go unnoticed. In fact, passive-aggressive behavior is completely pointless because it doesn't solve any problems. It just makes everyone feel uncomfortable.

I once had a colleague who always turned in any work at the last minute so that everyone else would work harder. Technically, he was on time, but all the other team members always tried to help each other in order to finish everything early. This man was angry with us and thus tried to punish us. He could not say that he had some kind of problem, because he was afraid to provoke our aggression. I still have no idea what he was angry about, but whatever it was, it never resolved. I suspect he is still angry with those he works with today.

One of the biggest problems with this behavior is that if you complain directly to a person, they will definitely deny everything. “I didn’t do everything at the last moment on purpose. It just took longer than I thought." And it turns out that you are unfairly accusing a person. And he seems to have the right to feel offended.

What to do if you got such a passive-aggressive boss, partner, mother, colleague, child? First, acknowledge that this is aggressive behavior, no matter how well veiled it may be. Otherwise, you will feel guilty that you "unfairly" accuse him. If you let him continue like this, it will be bad for both of you.

Sometimes humor works. In our family, any behavior of this kind is usually met with a joke: “You don’t need to be so passive-aggressive with me!” Even if this person denies everything, after such words, he can no longer continue to behave like this. More stubborn violators should be pinned to the wall. But at the same time, you need to show them that expressing your disappointment or resentment does not necessarily lead to conflict. This is what they fear and will not change their behavior unless they realize that there is no reason for their fear. Just tell it like it is and show them that you want to work out a solution to their problem that will benefit everyone.

Also, be specific. Don't say, "You always turn in your work at the last minute." Give specific examples and let the person know that this is not acceptable. In no case do not try to answer the aggressor in the same way, for example, do everything for him at the last moment. This will make you even more passive-aggressive than he is. What about your moral high ground then?

Manipulation is not just persuasion

The perverse competitive spirit we talked about in the previous rule may be one of the reasons why people manipulate others to get what they want. Of course, we all try to manipulate someone from time to time, but for some people, the manner of covertly and insidiously using others becomes the norm.

I remember very well talking a lot about ways to get people on your side, and you can see that this is also a form of manipulation. In my defense, I can say that I urge you to use my advice in a way that does not harm, and in many cases, on the contrary, helps other people. That's why I use the word "influence" and not "manipulation." As you know, I'm just sharing my observations about what works. Of course, I must honestly admit that insidious and unscrupulous approaches sometimes work too. But when I talk about manipulators, I'm talking about people who plot and intrigue without considering how it will affect other people, and often in doing so harm them.

Okay, now let's talk about what's wrong with manipulators. I can't list all the possible—often complex—reasons for this behavior. But the point boils down to one thing: life experience has somehow convinced these people that manipulation is the best way to get what you want. Experienced and successful manipulators are likely to get what they want most of the time. The problem is that, as a rule, this is not what you want.

Such people - at work or in the family - always find some new opportunities to control you. You know they do it, but you can't prove it. They deny everything - and so convincingly that your boss or colleagues are unlikely to believe you if you decide to complain. They ask leading questions, they blackmail you emotionally, they never admit their guilt, they try to convince you that only you have problems, they lie, they spread false rumors, they deliberately derail your plans, they instinctively feel your vulnerable places... An amateur manipulator is already difficult to deal with. And if you get a major league player, it's a real nightmare.

What to do with them? For starters, don't let them convince you that you are to blame.

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