How to recognize manipulation and not become a manipulator yourself

Julia is an obedient girl. She was always praised – in kindergarten, at school, and at home. Julia obeyed the elders, and everything was fine. Now Yulia is twenty-seven, and most of all she wants to go to a desert island. Forever. Because Julia is trouble-free and will do everything you ask for. She does not know how to resist manipulation. For example, recently Yulia agreed to stay late after work because the boss “can entrust such a difficult client only to her.”

And also, she gave half of her salary for a designer set for her son, because the saleswoman exclaimed: “You know how good this set is! Your son definitely deserves one!” If you are also a little Julia, we will tell you how to recognize a manipulator and rebuff him or her, and also how to behave so that they will listen to you.

Employers use situational judgement tests and personality tests to find and avoid manipulators and those who are prone to fall victim to manipulation. Read more about this in our article.

How to recognize manipulation and what to do to avoid it

Each manipulator has his favorite techniques – for example, these.

Everyone agrees except you

The manipulator convinces several people in advance that they are right or simply negotiates support with them. All your objections are followed by one answer: “This is not only my opinion, Maria and Nancy think so too.”

manipulation and situational judgement tests

Some manipulators do not even bother to find real supporters: “Everyone has already agreed, you are the only one left.”

Insist on a joint discussion. Most likely, Maria and Nancy simply do not know many things. Remember – you have the right to your own opinion, different from others.

You are so wonderful

Before making a request, the manipulator extols your imaginable and unthinkable merits. After so many compliments, few decide to refuse – after all, a person admires you so much, you have to correspond.

Just remember the fable of the crow and the fox. You know your worth and you won’t get worse just from the fact that you refused to take on unnecessary obligations.

Do you respect me?

The manipulator appeals to the friendship that binds you, or to social responsibility – you are my friend / we have been working together for so long / we are parents / it is your duty.


That’s great that I can always rely on you. Direct pressure is very difficult to resist, especially if you find it difficult to say “No” at all. And yet, learn to refuse. It’s difficult, but when you understand that they are trying to manipulate you, it becomes easier.

office manipulation and situational judgement tests aptitude tests

And here are more subtle techniques with the help of which experienced manipulators work wonders.

How bad I am

The boss makes a minor mistake, you point at it, he immediately corrects and praises you. After this, most of the employees “relax” and more easily agree to the subsequent request – after all, a boss is also a person, you need to help.

Only facts, only truth

A lot of numbers, evidence and arguments – how not to believe. Advertising often uses this technique. Remember the boastful inscription on the sunflower oil bottle: “No cholesterol.” But there is no cholesterol in vegetable oil, in principle – in any. The bet is on the most obvious fact.

Buyers more often take “cholesterol-free” oil – the manipulation is obvious.

You don’t need to understand – you need to agree

Imagine this is a very important meeting with the boss. Another proposal sounds like this: “To accumulate the effectiveness of rebranding, we need to target our message not only to buzzers but also to boomers. I propose to integrate it into the digest mailing list. ”

Half of the participants did not understand anything, but they support the proposal – asking to be translated into normal language is somehow inconvenient, they will think – not in the subject. Manipulators know – the more incomprehensible the idea, the sooner they will agree with it.

manipulator at the office

Not white means black

Let’s say you offer something, and the interlocutor immediately draws a negative scenario – up to bankruptcy. He does not admit anything else.

Do not fall for the soulful tone “I have seen life, I know.” Think in advance about what you can object to. According to the logic of such manipulators, whoever is not a millionaire is a beggar, they forget about the middle class.

How to put the manipulator in place

At a certain age – more often in 2-3 years – the child realizes that he or she is an individual and can have his/her own opinion. Parents know – to any proposal the first answer will be: “No!”

Some moms and dads treat this with understanding, and some struggle with “whims” – sometimes so successfully that the child will never be able to say “no”.

If this is your case, come back to your three years and finally learn the most important word in life.

Show that you understand what technique is being used against you. Remain impeccably polite, but firm. This will prevent the manipulator from turning to insults and accusations.

manipulator at the office

If the interlocutor himself does not realize that he is using a “dishonest” technique (this happens) – invite him to take your place and evaluate the arguments again. Don’t be afraid to ask the other person direct questions. Often, manipulators adhere to their favorite scheme, and questions “in essence” simply break it.

How to convince colleagues and boss – no manipulation

Cohen and D. Bradford in their book “The Art of Managing People” (“Influence Without Authority”) describe how to influence others without manipulation and pressure. Try it – it really works.

Tune in to the positive

We never turn to some people with requests – simply because we are sure that this one will never help. But if you initially tune in to the fact that you will be helped, it will be so.

Understand the needs of the other

The task is to understand in advance how a person will react to your request or proposal. To do this, imagine that you are him. Now ask yourself these questions:

  • What is the priority for me?
  • Why do I need it?
  • What is my boss asking of me?
  • What’s stopping me?

Now you understand how to formulate your proposal and what benefits to emphasize.

Find the right motivation

To pick up arguments, think about what motives are important for the interlocutor:

  • Such people are looking for a global meaning in everything and like to feel like a part of the whole. Tell them how useful your idea is in the long run and what value it brings to the overall project.
  • Mutual benefit. Offer your help in exchange for a service.
  • If recognition of his or her merits is important for a person, think about how and where you can mention his/her contribution.
  • For such people, the main thing is trusting relationships between people. Empathy and personal contact are important to them. With such an interlocutor, you need to be as attentive as possible: ask (and tell) about personal things, help in solving everyday issues.
  • Personal freedom. You cannot put pressure on such a person, it is imperative to emphasize that he has freedom of choice. And do not forget about gratitude for the help.

Remember mutual benefit

The best deal is one where both sides win. Even if a person is ready to help unselfishly, be sure to thank him. Gratitude can be intangible – everyone is pleased when his merits are appreciated and respected.

Sometimes it is enough just to listen carefully, sometimes to share a useful contact, and sometimes to have a cup of tea together.

How employers find and fight manipulators

Manipulation and other selfish techniques used in the office can harm companies in the long run. It harms the working atmosphere of trust and reliability among colleagues. So, employers try to avoid manipulation in the office and the best way to avoid it is to refrain from hiring employees that are prone to this.

office manipulation and situational judgement tests

To find them employers use situational judgement tests and personality tests. These tests give you short scenarios of troublesome situations with 4-5 answer options. Which answer option you choose can tell a lot about you. That is why we recommend practicing situational judgement tests and personality tests if you are searching for a job and have your aptitude tests and job interview soon.

At Aptitude-Tests-Practice you can find about 300 examples of situational judgement tests and personality tests. Practice them beforehand and you will score high!

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Psychometric testing for call center and customer support jobs

Emotions in business and situational judgement tests for emotional intelligence (EI and EQ)

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