What to do if your boss tries to manipulate you


Is your boss yelling at you, throwing a report at you, openly criticizing your dress code and personality? This happens. We are worried, we are offended, but we know exactly how the boss treats us. It’s another matter when you don’t understand what they want from you and how they really treat you.

Check to see if you have fallen prey to covert manipulation by your boss. Here are some characteristics to help you. So the manipulation is always:

  • turns out to be a means to an end that you do not know. If you ask why the boss makes offensive jokes, he will answer: “Do not be offended, it just became funny.”
  • disguises itself as something pleasant, such as care;
  • harms the one at whom it is directed. It is not easy to recognize it, therefore it is difficult to understand what to fight with;
  • occurs according to the script of the manipulator. He has a goal and a plan, and if he is talented, you yourself will not notice how you end up where he leads you.

If you understand that the manager’s concern is somehow insincere and sounds like an insult, if the situation becomes more and more disadvantageous for you and you yourself don’t even really understand why you are obeying the boss and agreeing with him in everything, most likely it’s time to do something- then take.

Why does the boss behave this way?

There can be many reasons. For example, a leader wants to break your resistance, make you fearful, or even rise above your background. As a result, he seems to take the position of the main, senior: first he will offend, then he will praise, then he will offend again … You do not know what to expect, and you are trying with all your might to earn praise.

Some bosses believe that a close-knit team of subordinates is a big risk for the boss. They spread rumors, set employees against each other, restrict team communication, forbid helping each other, and at meetings in front of everyone they can humiliate one of their subordinates.

In a word, they act on the principle of “divide and rule”. They find scattered team members easier to manage.

If you suspect manipulation, answer yourself a few questions: “Do I like what is happening now?”, “Does it harm me?” If you answered “no” to the first question, and “yes” to the second and third, you are being manipulated.

How to stop the manipulation of the bosses

First, try to solve the problem peacefully – ask your boss not to joke with you, not to humiliate you in front of everyone. What if you made a mistake and this is not manipulation? What if the person does not notice how he offends you?

If the boss, in response to the request, once again ridiculed you (“You are so sensitive!”), You can be sure: your boss is a manipulator. An honest conversation with him will work, which means you need to act decisively. What should I do?

  1. Expose the manipulation. Say that the jokes no longer work, that you understand everything, and ask the boss to find another object to manipulate.
  2. Expand the target of the manipulator. Reveal the intentions of the manipulator, tell him that he will not be able to suppress you, humiliate you, even if he does not try.
  3. Break the script. Typically, we are expected to respond with stereotyped responses – resentment or counterattack. But that won’t help matters. You shouldn’t even start making excuses and trying to dance to the tune of the manipulator. Do what is not expected of you – let the manipulator puzzle over what to do with it. Answer with the most ridiculous or kind joke, word for word repeat his remark with a serious look – surprise both yourself and him!

Probably, any of the options will lead to open conflict. But which is better: to allow yourself to be manipulated or to act harshly once, but force yourself to be respected?

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