Some people are born manipulators, and not in a good way. A psychological manipulator deliberately creates an inequality of power, exploiting a victim or circumstance to serve their agenda. This can be beneficial, of course, and many successful business men and women are master manipulators. The problem is that a psychological manipulator isn’t necessarily going to have the best interests of the business at heart.
According to Psychology Today, most manipulative people have four common characteristics:
- They know how to detect weaknesses
- Once those weaknesses are found, they use them against you or your business
- Through shrewd machinations, they convince you to give up something of yourself in order to serve their self-centered interests
- In work, social, and family situations, once a manipulator succeeds at taking advantage of you, that person will continue repeating the violation until they are stopped.
How do successful people deal with manipulators? They do so through wisdom and their own strength of character.
Below are several character traits and actions that successful people commonly use to deal with psychological manipulators.
1. They always trust people until those people are no longer honest
According to Jorge Diaz, founder of Lead Layer, honesty is one of the best compasses to use to successfully deal with manipulative people. It’s a filter that weeds out the people who will give you problems, like a business partner who just wants to work with you in order to take advantage of your connections for their own gain.
Steve Jobs, former CEO of NeXT and Apple and one of the most successful people in history, had a habit of being brutally honest. He told his biographer, “I don’t think I run roughshod over people, but if something sucks, I tell people to their face. It’s my job to be honest.”
2. They remember that manipulative people are good communicators
A manipulative person won’t do what they say, but they will convince you with their interpersonal skills that they possess more value than they actually do. Unfortunately, once you’re ready to pull the trigger and take action, the manipulative person won’t act or will give you excuses so he or she can take advantage of the situation.
This reflects back to dealing with people honestly and expecting the same. Once the manipulator shows his or her true colors, it’s time to cut the cord and end the business relationship with that person. The successful person realizes this, and acts swiftly to remove the manipulator from any position of influence he or she might be in.
3. They evaluate the past actions of people
Looking at business that people have conducted in the past, digging deep to have a feel for what a person has built over the years, will show you what kind of person the manipulator really is. Do those past actions show a healthy response to fear, or an overwhelming defeat by it? The manipulator, often, is defeated by fear.
Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett Packard, pointed out that “The difference between people who succeed and people who fail, I think in many cases it’s not fear. Everyone experiences fear. The difference is what do you do with your fear. Do you work to overcome it or do you let it defeat you? And I think that is actually what distinguishes very successful people from others.”
4. They follow their intuition
Whether in the business world or in personal life, it isn’t often that we hear our inside voice. Successful people are in tune with what both their minds and their bodies tell them, using the feedback on the outside world to determine whether something truly is as it seems.
Bill Gates once said, “Often, you have to rely on intuition.” Steve Jobs agreed with this, encouraging others to “Have courage to follow your heart and intuition.” If that’s not enough, Oprah Winfrey insists that people should follow their instincts because “That’s where true wisdom manifests itself.”
5. They don’t play the fool
Gary Rawding, Chairman and CEO of myServiceForce, points out that successful people do not typically play the fool. Rather, they tend to be direct and challenging, knowing that manipulation won’t hold up well to the bright light of deeper inspection.
They take risks, to be sure, but they don’t do so foolishly. Instead, they closely evaluate every person they are dealing with and every situation they are embroiled in, determining how the puzzle pieces fit together and which pieces are from the wrong box.
6. They expect excellence
The manipulative person will find it difficult, if not impossible, to maintain an atmosphere of excellence. Their excuses and backpedaling won’t stand up to the light of excellence, so demand nothing short of that in the workplace. Like honesty, the expectation of excellence will act as a filter to weed out those who just want to manipulate the environment to best suit them.
Steve Jobs once advised leaders to “Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.” By demonstrating excellence, the successful person sets the stage for a manipulator to be found out and dismissed out of hand.
Featured photo credit: Gratisography via gratisography.com