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Manipulation on the job: How to see through the bosses' nasty psychological tricks
Everyone manipulates their fellow human beings, both in their private life and in their professional life. Often these behaviors are unconscious and learned automatically over the years. However, it is increasingly the case that executives use targeted psychological tricks to exploit you as a worker. We will therefore tell you how you can defend yourself against it.
1. What are the limits of manipulation?
2. What do managers manipulate their employees for?
3. Psychological tricks are based on emotions
4. Don't let yourself be manipulated any longer!
5. Psychological trick 1: Intimidation
6. Psychological trick 2: Withdrawal of love
7. Psycho-Trick 3: Harmony
8. Psycho-Trick 4: The Lesser Evil
9. Psycho-Trick 5: Childhood Patterns
Where are the limits of manipulation?
A little manipulation is part of our everyday life and is sometimes even very useful. Even in our childhood, we usually learn quickly which tactics we use to get what we want. What the sweets at the supermarket checkout were back then, are much bigger wishes later. More and more people are using targeted psychological tricks at work to accelerate their careers, or even learn to control their spouse perfectly over the years.
Also In professional life, manipulation is now part of everyday life and can definitely help you climb the corporate ladder (faster). You have already received helpful tips and tricks for this in our article on the subject of “Manipulation and influencing - 8 psychological tricks at work”. As soon as the manipulation comes at the expense of someone else's happiness or health, it is the moral limit reached. A limit that unfortunately many managers no longer adhere to these days.
What do managers manipulate their employees for?
Anyone who manipulates other people is always pursuing a goal. For executives, such a goal can look like this:
For some executives, psychological tricks are pure entertainment and they want to test how far they can go with an employee. Perhaps they would also like to put their strengths of character or leadership qualities to the test. Others want them Encourage employees to perform at their bestin order to be able to stand there afterwards and possibly be promoted further. Sometimes a manager simply enjoys the power that comes with manipulating other people - unfortunately not uncommon in our narcissistic society. But why are we actually allowing ourselves to Other people's plaything do it, be it in private or professional life?
Psychological tricks are based on emotions
The manipulation only works when emotions are involved. The closer the emotional bond or even the love between two people, the more likely they are to manipulate each other. This bond between a supervisor and his or her employee is based on another, at least as strong, feeling: anxiety.
The bosses' psychological tricks usually work because they make use of someone's fear. The fear of losing a job, a stagnant career, social exclusion, financial decline or losing face in front of the team.
Such fears are completely normal and absolutely human. In Germany we live in a society of fear anyway and therefore on a real breeding ground for psychological tricks of all kinds.
Don't let yourself be manipulated any longer!
You are manipulated every day anyway and you will never be able to prevent that completely. Every advertising message and every seller makes use of such techniques. In addition, the (unconscious) manipulation occurs in almost every interpersonal relationship. But targeted psychological tricks from your superior? You don't have to put up with that! In order to defend against manipulation at work, you have to recognize it in the first step and consciously fight it in the second step. How? We'll tell you:
Psychological trick 1: intimidation
Do you work hard, never make mistakes and deliver top performance - and yet your manager never praises you? On the contrary: Does he downplay your successes, make you small in front of your colleagues or even threaten you with firing? Intimidation is probably the most common psychological trick among executives, and it is not infrequently even taught in special, questionable leadership seminars. The goal of intimidation is to induce the employee to perform more and more, out of fear of losing a job or because of a damaged ego. Unfortunately, so far only a few managers have understood that praise and recognition usually motivate employees much more and, above all, for a longer period of time.
What you can do: Contradict! You have the right to your own opinion and to express it. If you have achieved success, you can also stand by it and respond to the meanness of your manager with disagreement. They will be amazed, maybe even slightly annoyed, but you will gain respect and certainly not fear for your job right away. On the contrary: A good manager adapts their strategy to get employees to perform at their best. Perhaps your supervisor will notice that he gets further with you with praise than with rebuke. And if not, you have at least remained true to yourself and can continue working with increased self-confidence.
Psychological trick 2: deprivation of love
Withdrawal of love is one of the most common manipulation techniques in a love relationship, but it is also used again and again in professional life in an expanded form. Are you your boss's darling? His number one? His contact person for all difficult tasks? The first contender for the next promotion? At least your boss lets you believe this and has manipulated you by that alone. Now you would do almost anything to never fall out of favor with him again. Trained managers know how to make optimal use of this and encourage you according to the motto "Carrot and Stick" again and again to top performance, overtime or taking on unloved tasks.
What you can do: Learn to listen to your own limits and learn to say “no” once in a while. Often people with low self-esteem are particularly susceptible to this manipulation; they make their self-esteem dependent on the appreciation of their boss, colleagues and also their private environment. So work on your self-confidence. It's nice if you still remain your boss's darling. But if not, you shouldn't be bothered. After all, you need to take care of yourself and your health. Once you've landed in burnout, even the boss's praise won't do you much good ...
Psychological trick 3: harmony
The brain longs for harmony and therefore often outsmarts us. A train of thought always works in both directions and thus invites manipulation. A short example for a better understanding:
- "I'm doing someone a favor because I like them."
- "If I do someone a favor, then I have to like them."
In fact, we tend to like people who take advantage of us. If we keep helping a colleague or a supervisor to help, our brain automatically thinks that we have to like him. This way of thinking is justified by the need for harmony in our brain. Since it cannot deal with contradictions, it simply automatically draws a logical conclusion.
What you can do: Just knowing about this mechanism usually helps to see through that you are being exploited by your supervisor or a colleague. Check for yourself: Are the favors always one-sided or are they mutual? Learn more often here in the future too "No" accept.
Psycho-Trick 4: The Lesser Evil
We always see things in relation. Because of this, we complain about a problem until we are faced with a worse one or meet a person with much greater problems. Suddenly, the real thing doesn't seem so stressful anymore. Managers are increasingly using this trick in salary negotiations. Would you like 1,000 euros more per month? Then your boss will first give you many reasons why you do not deserve them (see psychological trick 1: Intimidation). Then he offers you 100 or maybe 200 euros. If you can finally agree on 500 euros more, you will feel like the winner. In fact, you have lost - against a true classic among psychological tricks.
What you can do: Set your limits for yourself before the salary negotiation. Then do not let the manipulation dissuade you from these limits in the conversation. Stay calm and try to see through the strategy of your counterpart. In this way you radiate more self-confidence, you don't get confused so quickly and you won't fall for any more psychological tricks in the future. The calmer you stay, the more difficult it is for your counterpart to manipulate you. Many a manager then consciously tries to make you angry, unsettled or even deviates from the factual level. If necessary, leave the conversation with a polite phrase if you have the feeling that the result is not satisfactory. You can then reschedule the hearing for another day and wait for the storm to subside.
Psycho-Trick 5: Childhood Patterns
The manipulation often makes use of classic psychological patterns that you learned in your childhood. As a rule, your supervisor takes on the role of parent and thus automatically forces you into the role of the minor child. It happens unconsciously because that's how you learned to do it. Observe from an objective perspective how your supervisor or colleague speaks to you and the other employees. What role does he slip into?
What you can do: As soon as you leave your role, you push your supervisor or the manipulative colleague into another role as well. This also usually happens unconsciously. You already used this tactic in Psycho-Trick 4: The Lesser Evil. As soon as you no longer react as expected, the other person has to change their behavior. How? That cannot always be foreseen. Some people give in, others get angry or the third simply falls silent. As a rule, people react to conflict situations with one of these three patterns: Attack, escape or death. So it is definitely exciting for you to slip out of your usual roles and watch what happens next. And you know: Don't let that intimidate you (Psycho-Trick 1: Intimidation).
Have you already had experience with psychological tricks? What tips do you have to defend yourself against this? Or what small manipulations help you through your everyday work?
Photo credit: astel design / Shutterstock.com
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