It’s easier if you can just avoid dealing with manipulative people, but when the person in question is your boss, that’s not really possible. If you don’t recognize his pathology and learn to appropriately assert your own boundaries, you’ll lose yourself while attempting to please him. There are quite a number of reasons why a boss could be manipulative. Sometimes, in order to cope with the rejection of a parent or significant adult in childhood, manipulators construct an environment centered solely upon themselves to meet their personal need for meaning and fulfillment. Nothing else matters!
As an employee that sees them and works with them every weekday, and maybe weekends, you are at the receiving end of all the attitude. Here are a few tips on how to cope with, and handle such manipulative boss.
7. Set your boundaries.
Your manipulative boss may also be your bully. Bullies tend to pick on those who are compliant and polite; many of us are compliant when taking direction from our bosses. You get the behavior to stop by, within reason, asserting appropriate boundaries and not being a pushover.
For example, your manipulative boss tries to get you to stay late every Friday night. Maybe he uses a guilt trip, “It really needs to get done. My boss is going to come down hard on me if you don’t do this.”
If this happens once, you may wish to stay late and help out. If it happens routinely, you are likely dealing with a manipulative boss. In the latter case, having firm boundaries may help you. “I’m sorry, but I am unable to stay after my regular working hours this evening.” You don’t owe him an explanation, just keep it firm but polite.
8. Discern criticism carefully.
Inevitably, you will be criticized by a manipulative boss. Criticism is guaranteed. The key here is to carefully screen out any criticism aimed at your character. This is far easier said than done. As a society, we underestimate the power of words; particularly condemning words. Consciously push those thoughts aside and look for those comments that can be applied to improving your performance within the organization. Own what you need to, but toss out any and all comments that demean you as a person. It is inappropriate and often untrue!
9. Ask Probing Questions.
Turn it around. “Does this seem fair to you?” “Do you think this a reasonable request?” “Are you asking me or telling me?” “Do I not have a say in this?” Manipulative managers with a degree of self-awareness may recognize that they are being inappropriate and back down.
If your manager does not back down, you may have to simply remain firm and polite when you say, “No.”