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11 Things Only People Who Suffer From Office Politics Would Understand

11 Things Only People Who Suffer From Office Politics Would Understand

Whenever a group of people get together, there is gossip and the spreading of rumor. These are usually short-lived periods of time – a party, a happy hour, a weekend jaunt with friends. But what if the gossip, the rumor, the back-stabbing and more are permanent conditions that a person lives with every day at the office? Then these behaviors become a constant source of anxiety, anger, and a real danger to job security.

Those people who engage in “office politics” usually do so out of fear and insecurity – fear that they will not be held in high esteem by their bosses and co-workers, and insecurity about their positions because their performances are pretty mediocre. The problem is their behaviors usually mean that others become victims. And only victims of office politics will understand the following 11 things that office politickers can do to make their lives miserable.

1. They Try to Drag You into their Lairs

They have plans. They want to sabotage the reputation or the work of others and they want you to take part in those plans. You don’t want to be involved, but the culprit seems to be a “favorite” of the boss, and if you don’t go along you could be next. You are asked not to share work with this other person or to be too busy to collaborate with them to get something completed. Caught in the middle, you find yourself avoiding both of these people. The pressure is so stressful that you start looking to change departments and use up all of your sick leave looking for another job.

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2. They will try to get you to be disloyal to others on the team or your boss.

There are people who believe they can move up in an organization by being disloyal and by undermining others; sometimes this even works. And being disloyal takes on many forms. Sometimes it means that the politickers do a deliberately poor job on a project to make someone else or their boss look bad. When you don’t want to “play this game” and you are committed to always doing your best, you are seen as a “traitor” to these folks.

One victim tells a story of a collaborative project she was working on with two co-workers who were real “snakes.” They hated their boss and wanted to discredit him. When the boss approved the project and told them to send it on to the district manager, they imbedded a link to a porn site in the text before sending it on in their boss’s name. The employee was so upset by this, she privately told the boss, who was then able to repair the damage and fire the other two employees. The word got out, however, and she became a “leper” to everyone else in the office. She ultimately quit.

3. They try to get you to engage in gossip and spread office rumors.

That co-worker who just got the promotion? She is obviously sleeping with the boss. Lunch in the company cafeteria becomes a gossip and bashing session that gives you indigestion and heartburn. Rather than spend all of your extra cash on acid reducers, you then have to find excuses to eat at your desk or run errands during lunch hour just to avoid it all. And if you do this too often, they come to see you as “not one of them” and you lose cooperation when you need it to get things done. You feel isolated and alone and start a job search.

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4. They undermine and shun you if your work is “too good.”

If you stay late to finish up a task or project, if you take work home with you to meet a deadline, or if your work product is just too well done, you are a “suck-up,” deliberately trying to make them look bad and find special favor with the boss. You have a strong work ethic and you are committed to doing your best at everything. Now you are stuck between doing less than your best to be a “team player” or sticking with your work ethic and incurring their anger.

One employee was in charge of doing the background research for a major consulting presentation that the boss was going to make to a potential client. A couple of team members were upset that he was getting so many compliments from the boss on his work. When he submitted his portion of the presentation to the team leader, it was altered before going on to the boss. He had no idea until the boss expressed his disappointment with his work. Fortunately, he had a copy of the original and was able to provide it. Because the boss did nothing to rectify the situation, he found that he had to be sure to back up everything he produced and submit it separately to the boss. This situation was intolerable and that boss ultimately lost a good employee.

5. They help and cooperate until you start getting too many compliments from the boss.

Once they see you as being more “favored,” they are threatened. Now they have to sabotage you in subtle ways, or, maybe, not so subtle ways. One individual reported that she arrived at the office one morning to find a large sales data base file that she managed for the whole office was corrupted and unusable. She suspected two co-workers of the deed, because she had not shut down her computer properly the night before, and they were still there when she left for the day. What they did not know, however, was that she had a data base recovery software in place that allowed her to restore the entire file. While she was unable to prove that two co-workers had probably conspired to do that, she certainly never left the office again without fully shutting down her computer. After fending off a few other attempts to sabotage her work, she decided to fight the situation by addressing it with her boss. His response was that he was certain she was being a bit paranoid, and that those events may have just been errors on her part. Obviously, she promptly began a job search.

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6. They engage in “turf” wars.

Politickers are very much like the child in the sandbox who will not share his/her toys with anyone, no matter how much another child may need a particular utensil to finish a creation. They never outgrow these turf wars, probably due to deep-seated insecurities, but God help the person in the office who encroaches into an area of responsibility that belongs to this person.

When one co-worker had called in sick, and a project was due, another co-worker stepped in to finish it. When the absent co-worker returned the next day, he was furious that his work had been usurped and turned into the boss. He wanted to be the one to turn it in. The co-worker explained that he had been given credit for the project, but that did not matter. From that point forward the “injured” co-worker refused to cooperate in any way and, in fact, developed a habit of withholding important information, just to make his “enemy” have to work harder to locate it on his own.

7. They can play the “gender” game with co-workers of the opposite sex.

One school administrator tells a funny story from several years ago. She was promoted to associate principal and athletic director of a very large high school in the Midwest. Athletics was huge, and the coaches who had been passed over for the position were just waiting for her to fail. That was obvious when their cooperation was less than forthcoming. One of her responsibilities was to attend a monthly meeting with the athletic directors of all the schools in their conference – all of them men. After the first meeting, which went fairly well, she returned to her school district and made a report to the Superintendent. In the conversation, he expressed surprise that she was back so soon, because the group always went out for a meal and a beer afterward. As the next monthly meeting was ending, she said to the group, “Where are we going to eat?” They had no choice. She surprised them all with her ability to talk sports, and they were quite impressed that she had personally followed college football avidly. She was even able to describe and draw some particularly unique plays that had been used. The coaches waiting for her to fail never got their wish. She became a respected athletic director in that state.

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8. They try to “play” you against a co-worker or your boss.

The scenario goes like this. A co-worker comes to you wanting to tell you something confidentially – something bad that a co-worker or your boss said about you to them, but you can’t repeat it because it also was told in confidence. The “do-gooder” just wants you to know what was said.

You are devastated. And your attitude toward that co-worker or boss changes big-time. They sense it of course, and the relationship deteriorates. You retreat emotionally at work, and, ultimately, you begin to look for another job. The culprit has just neutralized you as a competitor.

9. They will try to get you to criticize or say negative things about your boss.

It begins rather innocently. A co-worker comes to your desk or office and expresses frustration with the boss – maybe an unreasonable deadline or a disagreement on how to proceed with a client. You express empathy and in so doing agree that sometimes that boss can be unreasonable and too demanding. The words are out and they will be repeated to others, ultimately making their way up the chain to the boss. And you are left wondering why you don’t get the good projects anymore – projects in which you can demonstrate your expertise and your value.

10. They gain your confidence and then use it against you

A team member welcomes you aboard, invites you out to lunch, and goes out of his/her way to help you become acclimated. They becomes a good friend and you begin to socialize together – going out for drinks after work, playing tennis on the weekends, and so forth. You begin to share some “secrets,” like the fact that you have been known to occasionally use a little pot, during non-work hours of course. When your job performance begins to be recognized and praised, the snake is threatened. Pretty soon, the fact that you use pot is all over the office, and the boss calls you in for a “meeting.”

11. They will steal your ideas and present them as their own.

This is probably one of the most common backstabbing techniques of the really insecure culprit. When you express an idea or a potential solution to a problem, it might be rejected as impractical. All of a sudden, that idea or solution has been presented to the boss and he praised it.

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Elena Prokopets

Elena is a passionate blogger who shares about lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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Published on April 7, 2021

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

Some of the most manipulative people are so good at what they do that their words and actions can convince you into thinking they truly care about what’s best for you when in reality, it’s quite the opposite. The most common signs of a controlling person are rarely obvious to outside observers. And for someone enmeshed in a controlling relationship or friendship, it can be incredibly challenging to stay away from this toxic person, even if you’re aware of their emotionally abusive tendencies.

While it’s ultimately up to you to decide whether to preserve or leave a lopsided, unfulfilling relationship, it’s nevertheless critical to understand the following six signs of controlling people so you can better advocate for yourself and mitigate the influence of their manipulative tendencies in your own life.

1. They Push Their Own Personal Agenda

Do you know someone who always tries to micromanage the words, behaviors, and attitudes of people around them? Does this person act like they have the right to know anything they want about you, including your location, what you’re doing in a given moment, who you’re talking to online, or any other private information about you? And when planning events and special occasions, does this person dominate conversations, steer plans in their own preferred directions, disparage others’ suggestions, and refuse to collaborate with anyone who might disagree with them?

If you answered “yes” to some of the above questions, then those are clear signs of a controlling person whom you absolutely need to be cautious around. Controlling people are reluctant to even consider alternative ideas, let alone enthusiastically work with people who have differing views. They prefer to be the captain of every ship—regardless of how much or how little an issue personally impacts them—and they have an arsenal of manipulative tactics to deploy if someone stands in the way of them achieving their own personal agendas.

In long-term relationships with controlling people, you may feel constantly pressured to meet their demands, follow their schedule, and focus on whatever they feel is most important. It’s not an exaggeration to say that these people act like the universe revolves around them, which can be exhausting to deal with for their family members, friends, and colleagues.

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2. They Make Everything Transactional

Controlling people aren’t always self-centered, but they’re not too empathetic either. Empathy for them tends to appear in the form of strategic concessions they use as a means to get what they want. They typically view interpersonal relationships as transactional opportunities to extract more value from people surrounding them, which can have a draining effect on those they interact with.

For example, one sign of a controlling person may be their insistence on “keeping score.” This can involve doing nice things for you with the ulterior motive of demanding something from you at a later date in exchange for what you thought was just an act of kindness or a friendly support.

Perhaps they shower you in praise (also known as “love-bombing”) or gifts then blow up at you if you don’t intuitively know they’re expecting something back from you. None of us are mind-readers, but controlling people behave as though everyone else should think and act like they want others to and those who fall out of line are punished for failing to meet their impossible expectations.

A controlling person may also threaten to withhold support if you don’t adhere to their demands, but they do so in such subtle ways that the guilt they impose blinds you from the unreasonable nature of their behaviors.

Some statements to be wary of include:

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  • “I did ___________ for you. What do you mean you can’t do ___________ for me?”
  • “Remember how I helped you with ___________? That took a lot of time and energy from me, but I guess you didn’t appreciate my help.”
  • “I always give you ___________. Don’t you care about my needs too?”
  • “You’re so selfish!” or “You don’t care about me at all!” (gaslighting if you respond with hesitation or politely decline their request for help for perfectly valid reasons, such as not having enough time or resources to assist them)

3. They Criticize Everything

One of the most common telltale signs of a controlling person is their capacity to criticize anything and everything, even small things that seemingly don’t matter. As with many toxic traits in relationships, these problems typically start out so small that you may not even notice. At first, you may even agree with their criticism or at least be able to understand their perspective when they bring up an issue.

However, the criticism tends to get more intense, more constant, and more perplexing for people who maintain relationships with controlling people. You’ll likely notice how they rarely seem to criticize something they do. It’s almost always other-oriented and these types of people are so manipulative that any rationale they offer can seem plausibly legitimate.

Some warning signs of a controlling person who’s overly critical to the point of abusiveness include:

  • Criticizing things about you that you have little to no control over (e.g., appearance, disability, family)
  • Criticizing your personal choices and interests, such as educational pursuits, career, clothing, favorite music, time spent on your hobbies, etc.
  • Punishing you for expressing vulnerability by invalidating thoughts and feelings you share with them
  • Attacking you whenever you express an opinion counter to theirs

4. They Balk When Someone Criticizes Them

We all know the adage, “what goes around, comes around.” But this statement doesn’t apply as much to toxic, controlling people. They’d much prefer to dish out criticism without ever having to take it in return.

For instance, if your friend constantly talks about your appearance with little regard for your emotions but flips out if you make just a single comment about their appearance, there’s a possibility that they could have some hidden controlling tendencies left unchecked. Remember, these people aren’t just controlling in their behaviors towards others. They’re also actively trying to stay in complete control over every aspect of their lives, which includes how others view them.

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This seemingly insatiable desire for control can prompt them to lash out against even the smallest bits of criticism, leaving people around them too weary or scared to speak up again in the future. While it’s possible they may suffer from something called rejection sensitivity dysphoria, this does not excuse them from the consequences of their words and actions. They should seek professional help to better manage their reactions to criticism.

5. They Socially Isolate You

Not all controlling people do this, but for manipulative narcissists, socially isolating victims is a go-to strategy for maintaining control because it’s effective at preventing people from truly understanding how toxic their partner, family member, or friend is treating them. Think of it this way—if you don’t talk to many other people in your life, there’s less of a risk that you’ll damage their reputation by revealing their abusive tendencies.

Socially isolating others also gives the person more control over you and your life as it becomes more difficult to break away from them if you don’t have other healthier channels of communication and interpersonal support to turn to.

This process doesn’t happen overnight, nor is it something you can readily recognize as abusive. At first, it may seem reasonable, such as asking you to stop engaging so often with family members with whom both of you disagree on major social or political issues. As the social isolation progresses, they may suggest cutting people out of your life—especially if they don’t like that person, regardless of how you personally feel—or even conjure up high-stakes problems like “it’s me or them” under the guise of saving you from people in your life whom they don’t like for whatever reason.

In a controlling person’s life narrative, they’re always the protagonist who’s incapable of any wrongdoing. The blame is always redirected at someone else, whether that’s you or other people in your life. The more they isolate you from other supportive people in your life, the more susceptible you’ll be to falsely believing that they’re right and you “don’t need” your other friends and family when you have someone as perfect as this person.

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6. They’re Emotionally Abusive

It’s hard enough to be in control of your own emotions but when someone else is constantly belittling you and your interests or leveraging guilt and shame to manipulate you into saying or doing what they want, this can make it even more challenging to stay in control of your own life and emotional well-being.

Emotional abuse is another sign of a controlling person that is often overlooked in relationships. After all, human personalities vary widely in terms of passivity, and it’s not uncommon for one person in a relationship to be significantly more passive than the other. This becomes an issue when the controlling partner or friend exudes signs of emotional abuse, which can start subtly and become much more pronounced over time.

Concerning signs of emotionally abusive language or behavior to watch out for include:

  • Dismissing your needs and/or belittling your interests in counterproductive ways
  • Privately or publicly shaming or humiliating you
  • Making you feel as though you can never live up to their expectations or do anything right (according to their own vague, subjective standards)
  • Gaslighting you into thinking they said or did something that never actually happened (making you question your own reality)

Final Thoughts

It’s sometimes hard to see the negative things about someone with whom we have a relationship. We may sometimes unconsciously overlook the signs of a controlling person, especially if that person is someone we have known for a long time or are close to us. However, cutting them off your life is the best thing you can do for yourself. Just watch out for these six signs of a controlling person and take immediate action when you spot them.

More Tips on How To Deal With a Controlling Person

Featured photo credit: Külli Kittus via unsplash.com

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