Recognizing and managing manipulative people

Manipulative Behavior Types — abstract illustration
Manipulative Behavior Types — abstract illustration
Photo by Olivier26 on depositphotos

Manipulative behaviors include threatening you, flattering you, making you feel guilty, or putting you down. Some manipulators display confusing behavior by alternating between being overly affectionate and charming and then being cold or angry. Manipulators thrive on getting others to unknowingly act out the manipulators’ agenda. Being able to recognize manipulators in the workplace is vital to your career and your reputation.

Manipulative people are generally subtle. When behaviors are hidden — as they are with most manipulators — you know something is wrong, but you can’t pinpoint it. And, if you don’t know what’s really going on, it can…


How to benefit from positive and productive working relationships

How to deal with Whiners and Complainers — abstract illustration
How to deal with Whiners and Complainers — abstract illustration
Photo by Sofia_Zhuravets on depositphotos

Negativity in the workplace

You’ll often just have to put up with difficult people. But it’s appropriate and imperative to deal with winners, complainers, and blamers when their behavior is negatively affecting your work or the productivity of your team.

Your most important resources are the people you work with. So when the negative behavior of difficult coworkers impacts your productivity, you’ll have to take action. Difficult people don’t change their behavior overnight. They don’t change because you’ve confronted or shunned them, or just because you’ve told them to. …


Listen to the person who’s being negative, demonstrate you understand the message, and try to resolve the issue

How to Deal with a Blamer — abstract illustration
How to Deal with a Blamer — abstract illustration
Photo by olly18 on depositphotos

Everyone makes mistakes. In fact, human error can occur in an almost infinite number of ways. But at work, individuals who are experienced and knowledgeable are expected to anticipate negative outcomes and avoid them. When workplace errors inevitably occur, employees have two choices: accept responsibility or play the “blame game.”

Blamers share a common characteristic — they find it easier to attack a person or situation than to tackle a problem. But there isn’t just one type of person who becomes a blamer.

A number of different causes can cause blaming behavior. Some people consider it a sign of weakness…


Start documentation, confront the individual on specific incidents, and provide positive reinforcement

How to Handle Passive-aggressive People — abstract illustration
How to Handle Passive-aggressive People — abstract illustration
Photo by Fokussiert on depositphotos

Passive-aggressive behavior

People with passive-aggressive personalities typically come across as quiet and shy. Additionally, you’ll notice they’re always nice, never defend themselves, and don’t assert themselves.

You can also recognize passive-aggressive people by other common behaviors:

  • talking about others, in a harmful way, behind their backs,
  • playing dumb to either frustrate others or gain some type of advantage,
  • not taking responsibility for their actions, and
  • rarely saying what they really mean.

Passive-aggressive personality types want to be understood as nice, agreeable, and helpful, and they work very hard to project this image. The key to the behavior of passive-aggressive people is their…


Negativity can have a detrimental effect on individuals, teams, and organizations

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Krakenimages on depositphotos

Types of Negative People

It’s important to remember that everyone — even you — can be negative from time to time. But when negative behaviors begin to cause harm to others or derail productivity, it’s time to take action.

Negativity can have a detrimental effect on individuals, teams, and organizations. It reduces productivity damages relationships affects morale

Difficult people often have specific behavioral traits that make them identifiable and, in some ways, predictable. By recognizing and categorizing negative behavior, you can take steps to deal with it. Three very common behavior types express negativity in the workplace: whiners, complainers, and blamers.

Recognizing whiners

The first common…


Manage bullies and controllers that tend to be pushy, angry, and resentful

The Seven-step Process of Handling Hostile Behavior — abstract illustration
The Seven-step Process of Handling Hostile Behavior — abstract illustration
Photo by olly18 on depositphotos

Benefits of dealing with aggression

You will likely face hostile-aggressive behavior at work. You may think ignoring it is a viable option, but this is unrealistic. Also, dealing with hostile-aggressive behavior provides benefits you’ll want to take advantage of:

  • increased productivity — Dealing effectively with hostile-aggressive people helps you reduce the stress caused by their bad behavior. And a less stressful work environment facilitates improved health and increased workplace productivity.
  • improved self-esteem — Improved self-esteem is another possible benefit. Suppose you interpret a hostile- aggressive person’s behavior as a personal attack — this can be damaging to your self-esteem. …


Stay calm, focus on the behavior and not the person, listen carefully, and give feedback

How to Deal with Difficult People — abstract illustration
How to Deal with Difficult People — abstract illustration
Photo by vadimphoto1@gmail.com on depositphotos

Preparing to deal with difficult people

It would be great if there was one easy answer when it comes to dealing with difficult people. But there isn’t. You’ll need to deal with each difficult person you encounter individually.

Sometimes, a difficult person has traits from multiple types of difficult behavior. For example, someone may exhibit traits of a negative person, but at times also be aggressive or manipulative. But you don’t need to feel overwhelmed by all the combinations of behavior you might encounter. Even though the answers for each difficult person’s behavior are different, the methods of finding those answers are the same.

One thing…


Understanding motivation for positive behavior

What Motivates Difficult People — abstract illustration
What Motivates Difficult People — abstract illustration
Photo by ivelin on depositphotos

Causes of difficult behavior

When a person acts disruptively in the workplace, coworkers are often quick to label that person as difficult.

But in most cases, it’s not people that are difficult, but rather their behavior. People will often use difficult behavior if, in the past, it’s helped them get what they want or need. It’s easier to understand difficult people if you can identify the reasons behind their behavior.

The difficult people in your office probably don’t think they’re difficult. In fact, they probably think you’re the difficult one. After all, you’re what’s standing between them and what they want. But if you…


On utility, rights, fairness, and relationships

Ethical Decision-making — abstract illustration
Ethical Decision-making — abstract illustration
Photo by Gajus-Images on depositphotos

Utility and rights

What is it that makes “right” right? Over the centuries, civilization’s greatest thinkers have tried to answer this question. None have come up with an explanation that satisfies everyone. People’s ideas about what the right solution to an ethical problem often depends on their perspectives.

You may have responded with one or more of the common perspectives most people use to decide what’s right or wrong. These four commonly used perspectives are utility, rights, fairness, and relationships.

The first way to judge whether an action is right or wrong is to examine its utility, or usefulness. …


How to handle the aggressive, negative, procrastinating, manipulative, and self-serving living among us

Difficult Personality Types — abstract illustration
Difficult Personality Types — abstract illustration
Photo by ra2studio on depositphotos

The benefits of recognizing difficult people

Difficult people cause all kinds of problems in the workplace and make life miserable for their coworkers. For example, a person who misses deadlines can cause coworkers who are forced to pick up the slack to become resentful. A person who constantly complains can lower morale in the workplace. Being able to deal with a difficult person is a skill that can serve you well in the workplace and can help you avoid or overcome awkward situations.

If you can identify what types of difficult people you’re dealing with, you can better determine what motivates them to behave the way…

Sorin Dumitrascu

A consultant, trainer and author specialized in management, corrections and industrial relations

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