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How to Deal with Manipulative Coworkers

Manipulative people do not only exist just in movies like The Devil Wears Prada, they exist in real life too. But how often is that you spot a manipulator easily? Not a lot, right? Well precisely, they are devious and not trustworthy. Imagine your manager demoralizes you in meetings, but then tells you it’s just for your career development. Or, perhaps you’ve noticed manipulative tactics played by a higher-level co-worker who blames junior-level employees for his mistakes.

You might even come across a client of you’re working for, who often lies to you for his own undue demands. You encounter these manipulative people at least once in your life. If any of these people are at your workplace they create a toxic and egotistic culture in the teams. It can demoralize your team, and results in employee turnover.

You might think of times when you so want to reach to HR for a drastic action. But before that, you can solve the issue in a harmless way. See how

  1. Call it out privately and try to get to the bottom of it.

If you notice a colleague being manipulated by one of the team members in the meeting that effected the morale of your colleague, then it is just better to ask the manipulator in private about what happened and speak on behalf of your colleague.

  1. Call it out publicly to show it won’t be tolerated.

If you come across a situation when one of your senior co-workers made you left out an important meeting on purpose and in public manipulated you by showing that it was your fault, it’s better if you just email the manipulator, add your team members and your boss in cc, and add in the information you would have shared in the meeting. End the email by asking to please be involved in the next meeting.

This is because you don’t want your boss thinking you are irresponsible and you skip important meetings when you were never invited.

  1. Take your concerns to someone higher up.

Manipulative behavior puts your team’s values and productivity at risk, so it’s important that you let someone higher-up know.

Bring unbiased facts to your boss or director’s notice. Let them know how the manipulator’s behavior has hindered your team’s ability to complete a project or cultivate a strong relationship with a client.

For instance, maybe your manager persistently takes credit for your team’s work during meetings. You might point that out to a higher-up that by taking unearned credit, your manager is weakening your team’s morale.

If you keep the conversation business-related and not entirely personal, your boss or director will possibly see it as a critical issue and intervene.

Eventually, if the manipulator is under your lead, you can give behavioral feedback until they stop this conduct, or simply make it clear to them that this attitude won’t be tolerated in the company.