Industry News

When dealing with someone who is manipulative, how do you react?

SmartPulse -- our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership -- tracks feedback from more than 200,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our newsletter.

When dealing with someone who is manipulative, how do you react?

  • I get away from them as fast as I can: 18%
  • I actively combat their manipulation and confront them on it: 16%
  • I try to understand why they're doing it and avoid the trap: 61%
  • I try to manipulate them right back: 4%
  • I just let it happen: 2%

Beware the manipulator. 77% of you either actively battle against a manipulator's efforts or try to understand their motivations and avoid the trap they're setting for you. Most of the rest of you try to get away from them as best you can.

Unfortunately, there are situations where you'll be challenged to get away -- especially if they're a teammate or a boss. Invest the time in understanding their motivations. Those motives might not make sense to you, but that doesn't matter. You simply need to understand the motivations and see how their behaviors can harm you or, more productively, how you can resolve whatever the conflict is either by meeting their needs or getting them to look at the situation differently. Regardless of the situation, avoid the temptation to manipulate them in return. Those situations rarely end well.


Mike Figliuolo is managing director of thoughtLEADERS, which includes TITAN -- the firm’s e-learning platform. Previously, he worked at McKinsey & Co., Capital One and Scotts Miracle-Gro. He is a West Point graduate and author of three leadership books: "One Piece of Paper," "Lead Inside the Box" and "The Elegant Pitch."