Manipulators in Action: Fake It Until You Make It – Their Favorite Show

Knowledge is the most potent weapon in life’s struggles, even within the workplace. Those lacking it often resort to available alternatives, relying on some form of manipulation to obscure their deficiency in essential skills and knowledge. While not intending to be overly stringent, navigating such situations requires capability and cleverness. Manipulators frequently employ the favored strategy of deflecting attention from themselves and shifting responsibility onto others, a model demonstrated effectively in business meetings—what can be considered their preferred stage for ego performances.

Business meetings within corporations bear numerous drawbacks: the prevalence of endless rhetorical questions, futile explanations, competitions showcasing knowledge, excessive duration, and often, concealed agendas. I’ve never found them appealing. They seem more akin to poorly staged theater performances with subpar actors than a constructive exchange of crucial information and planning for future business goals. Any meeting, however, can be streamlined for quick and constructive results if adequately prepared, with participants familiarizing themselves with the material, readying their statuses, and outlining potential issues for discussion.

Effective project meetings, aiming to implement a specific business plan, necessitate a skilled moderator steering the discussion and intervening when necessary to prevent deviations from the topic. In contrast, there exists another type of meeting specific to corporations—meaningless in a business context but crucial in people management. These serve as true “gladiator arenas,” where team members are subjected to attacks to establish and solidify a power system. Manipulators, often bullies, dominate these meetings as experts in creating intrigues. At first seemingly charismatic and charming, they reveal their true nature as bullies if their desires are not met. Psychologically, this behavior aligns with that of a sociopath, a person exhibiting antisocial personality disorder (ASPD). It’s prudent to exercise caution if someone is excessively kind—hidden interests may be at play.

To identify a manipulator, observe these behaviors:

  • Shifting responsibility to others
  • Being either excessively vocal (when attacking someone) or silent (due to lack of knowledge)
  • Constantly noting down negative connotations for criticism
  • Pretending to be uninformed while possessing in-depth knowledge
  • Humiliating others, creating uncomfortable situations, and degrading them
  • Diverting attention from real problems or using it as a distraction
  • Promoting banalities
  • Self-promotion
  • Imposing work on others while avoiding it themselves
  • Lack of transparency in work, withholding information for control
  • Presenting half-truths, emphasizing parts that suit them populistically
  • Making vague announcements about future plans without specifics
  • Pretending anger and threatening repercussions without personal accountability
  • Shifting between assertive, passive-aggressive, and openly aggressive communication
  • Holding a metaphorical carrot in front of valuable team members
  • Creating uncertainty and fostering fear
  • Verbally attacking dissenters and discouraging the presentation of other ideas
  • Lacking empathy, compassion, or understanding unless it benefits them
  • Acting irresponsibly and unprofessionally, utilizing others to achieve personal goals
  • Disregarding norms, intentionally violating laws, and exceeding powers due to a superiority complex, believing rules do not apply to them.

Manipulators exist at all levels of business, but their impact is most profound on employees when they hold leadership positions, determining the fate of those under their charge. When a company is led by an uneducated and corrupt individual, it poses the worst scenario for employees and the company alike. Lack of education may be compensated for, but a person’s character profoundly affects everyone. Despite such individuals being present in all companies, the severity of the impact depends on whether the decision-maker possesses falinka—a lack of honesty to oneself and others. These individuals crave attention and self-affirmation, often promoting an illusion of qualities they lack, making themselves the focus of attention.

Over time, their ambitions grow, paralleled by an increase in callousness. Recognizing that power and intimidation compensate for genuine values in a world with falinka, they push the limits of their audacity. Power and terror replace true values, and they begin to exploit their insolence because they can. The thrill they experience when someone fears them is palpable, and they are disheartened when someone remains immune to their power and intimidation. Such individuals always have devoted followers ready to feed their vanity.

An uneducated and unskilled manipulator relishes business meetings, considering them corporate performances. Showing genuine emotions is not recommended, as it can be offensive or humiliating. Communication with such people is futile as they stick to their story, even if it contradicts facts and reality, refusing to entertain other opinions. Manipulation, in essence, is an aggressive form of motivation—forcing someone to act in the interest of the manipulator.

Author: Dobra Odlucic