How to Manipulate and Control Others

If you are an abusive boss or controlling spouse or a manipulative parent, you can greatly enhance any of your control tactics by isolating the one you wish to control, so that the only input they get is from you.
Irene had a boss who was weirdly abusive. Irene found it hard to believe that her supervisor really was manipulative because her machinations just didn’t make a lot of sense. But Irene continually felt a sense of confusion and being off balance which are sure indications that you are dealing with abusive control tactics.

About the time Irene developed an intractable eye twitch, her supervisor gave her two weeks to shape up. Apparently, Irene’s work was far below standard. Irene worked hard to understand what she was doing wrong. Her supervisor couldn’t seem to give her any solid suggestions for improvement.

Irene also asked to buddy up with some of the better performers to see what they did differently. Her supervisor resisted this. In fact, in Irene’s work, it was typical to work with a partner, but she almost always found herself working alone or with someone from a different area who didn’t know her work.

Irene also noticed that she did not receive the same communications as others in her group. If she learned about changes, it was usually by accident. The others in her work group seemed to be doing fine. She felt left out of her work group and became more and more certain that they shared her supervisor’s low opinion of her work.

Eventually, she approached her supervisor’s boss for a reference and discovered that her measurable performance was not substandard. It was above average, though she had a couple of isolated problems. She left that meeting feeling relieved but also confused.

When Irene’s supervisor went on vacation and left another person in charge, it made a huge difference. Communications went out to the entire work group. The group met to handle some urgent tasks. Irene participated. Her work group seemed delighted to see her. They expressed appreciation for her contribution.

This was heartwarming, but also confusing. The group began to open up and talk about things. Most complained bitterly about the supervisor’s poor communication and odd behavior. While she was reluctant to share that she had been counseled for poor performance, Irene told the others a little of her experience. They were surprised.

Several others had similar stories. Irene learned the lesson here. Do not accept one person’s view of reality; especially if it makes you feel confused or out of balance.

Whenever you feel confused, reach out to others and find out what they experience. If Irene’s work group had given her feedback that she was a poor performer, that would have been disappointing, but she would not have been any worse off. As so often happens, their feedback did not support her supervisor’s claims, but validated Irene.

Also, once the team knew that they were being isolated, they banded together to communicate to each other to make up for the supervisor’s lack of communication. Once Irene began communicating with others, she got a realistic sense of her performance that restored her confidence and sense of balance.

It is typical for emotionally abusive people to make efforts to isolate their spouses from family and friends. Hostages are kept isolated so they can be brainwashed. It does not occur to most of us that a supervisor would isolate employees to control them.

A sense of confusion or being out of balance is a clue that you are being manipulated by a controlling person.  You may think you have no reason to doubt the person, but your interactions leave you confused or feeling slightly woosey.  M. Scott Peck in The People of the Lie; his book about human evil, says that the presence of evil always leaves one with a sense of confusion. Pay attention to this. If you feel confusion in response to another person’s claims or assertions, get more information!

If you feel isolated, reach out to more than one other person.

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