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How Successful People Deal With Manipulators

How Successful People Deal With Manipulators

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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.”

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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

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Steve Young

Entrepreneur and founder of AppMasters.co

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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