How to Deal with Manipulative and Dishonest Coworkers

Are you stuck working with a colleague who is manipulative or dishonest? Are you concerned about this person ruining your reputation and career prospects? Luckily, the Public Speaker has tips for effectively dealing with these two workplace dangers. 

Lisa B. Marshall
4-minute read
Episode #279

The Manipulative Coworker

Ken Sundheim, the CEO of KAS Placement Recruiters, defines manipulative behavior in his article “How to Deal with Manipulative Coworkers.”

According to Ken, manipulation is “attempting to change the behavior of others through underhanded, deceptive, or sometimes abusive tactics. It’s different from persuasion in the fact that it’s exploitative, abusive, and malicious.”

The manipulative person’s strategy is to get what they want by playing on your emotions. They can appear charming, helpful, and friendly, but their motives are anything but.

When dealing with a manipulative coworker, here are 3 steps you can take:

Step #1: Confront the behavior. Again, avoid attacking the person. Describe the behavior and ask them to stop.

Step #2: Say no when appropriate. Respond based on the merits of the request. Tune out the manipulative language such as “I would do it, but I’m so busy” Or “If you can’t stay and help me with this, I’ll probably lose my job.”

Step #3: Walk away. Listener Anne mentioned that she can’t avoid her coworker because their team is small. But sometimes changing your schedule (like taking lunch at a different time or taking advantage of a flexible schedule) can help you stay away from your manipulative colleague.

My most important tip is to stay professional when dealing with these difficult coworkers. Don’t attack them or criticize them in public. Don’t address their behavior in an email that could be forwarded to a manager or other employees.

In my book Smart Talk, I included a chapter on how have difficult conversations, another chapter dedicated to delivering restorative feedback, and yet another whole chapter on how to say "No."  Be sure to grab a copy

Finally, from my perspective the manipulative or dishonest coworkers are bullies. To learn more about how to deal with a bully listen to my episode called How to Deal With Workplace Bullying .  

This is Lisa B. Marshall, Helping you maximize sales, manage perceptions, and enhance leadership through keynotes, workshops, books, and online courses. Passionate about communication; your success is my business.

If you want even more success in your life, I invite you to read my latest book, Smart Talk and listen to my other podcast, Smart Talk:  Inspiring Conversations with Exceptional People.

Workplace bully and manipulation images courtesy of Shutterstock..



About the Author

Lisa B. Marshall

Lisa B. Marshall Lisa holds masters with duel degrees in interpersonal/intercultural communication and organizational communication. She’s the author of Smart Talk: The Public Speaker's Guide to Success in Every Situation, as well as Ace Your Interview, Powerful Presenter, and Expert Presenter. Her work has been featured in CBS Money Watch, Ragan.com, Woman's Day, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and many others. Her institutional clients include Johns Hopkins Medicine, Harvard University, NY Academy of Science, University of Pennsylvania, Genentech, and Roche.

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