How to Manage Manipulative People: Basic Strategies

Learning how to manage manipulative people is a difficult task that requires emotional intelligence, effective communication skills, and the ability to build strong teams. Knowing how to identify manipulative behaviors can help managers better handle such situations. Once identified, there are several strategies available for dealing with manipulators to protect yourself and your team from potential harm or damage caused by their behavior.

Developing emotional intelligence will enable you to recognize when someone is trying to manipulate you or those around you so that appropriate action can be taken quickly before it escalates further. In this article, we learn how to manage manipulative people by building effective teams and fostering a healthy group dynamic.

Table of Contents

Understanding Manipulative People in the Workplace

It is challenging to learn how to manage manipulative people. Manipulative employees are often skilled at using subtle tactics to get what they want, making it hard for employers and colleagues alike to recognize their behavior.

Examples of Manipulative Behavior

Here are some examples of manipulative behavior. It is important to note that some of us do these things at varying levels–exhibiting these behaviors once or twice doesn’t mean that a person is being manipulative. For a behavior to be part of a person’s manipulation tactics, it needs to be regular and consistent.

Using Charm or Flattery

Manipulators may use charm or flattery as a way of getting people on their side. They may also try to make themselves appear likable by complimenting others or offering favors that seem too good to be true.


Manipulators may attempt to guilt-trip those around them into doing things they don’t want to do by implying that if they don’t comply, then something bad will happen. This could involve anything from threatening someone with physical harm, blackmailing them, or simply making them feel guilty about not helping out when asked. They may use the silent treatment, for example, when they do not get what they want.

Playing the Victim Card

Another common tactic used by manipulators is playing the victim card – claiming that everything is always someone else’s fault and never taking responsibility for their actions. This can lead coworkers and supervisors to feel frustrated because nothing ever seems resolved no matter how much effort is put into trying to help the person who is manipulating them.


A form of psychological manipulation where false information is presented with the intent of making another person doubt their memory, perception, and sanity. This technique can leave victims feeling confused and helpless as they struggle with reality versus fiction created by the manipulator’s words and actions.

Withholding Information

Manipulators may withhold important information from colleagues to gain control over a situation or manipulate outcomes without anyone knowing what has happened until it’s too late.

Making Threats

Threatening people either directly (e.g., “Do this now or else…”), indirectly (e.g., “I wouldn’t want anything bad happening here…”), or through veiled implications (e.g., “It would be a shame if you didn’t do X…”). These types of threats create fear which makes it easier for manipulators to achieve their goals without any resistance from those around them.

Causes of Manipulative Behavior in the Workplace

Manipulative behavior from employees does not happen spontaneously. These often have root causes, some of which are:

Power Struggles

One of the primary causes of manipulative behavior in the workplace is power struggles. When one person or group feels they have more authority than another, they may use manipulation to gain control and influence over their peers.

This can manifest itself in subtle ways such as passive-aggressive comments or undermining someone’s ideas during a meeting. It can also be more overt, such as withholding information from colleagues or taking credit for work that wasn’t done by them.

Fear of Conflict

Another cause of manipulative behavior is fear of conflict. People who are uncomfortable with confrontation may resort to manipulating others to get what they want without having to engage directly with those involved.

For example, rather than discussing an issue openly and honestly with a colleague, they might try to undermine them behind their back instead so that it appears like the other person was at fault for any problems that arise.


People who feel insecure about themselves may also manipulate others to boost their self-esteem and sense of worthiness. They might do this by trying to make themselves look better than everyone else by exaggerating accomplishments or downplaying the achievements of others around them.

Additionally, these individuals may use guilt trips or emotional blackmailing tactics to get people on board with their plans and ideas even if it isn’t necessarily beneficial for everyone involved.


Manipulative behavior can also stem from selfishness. When someone puts their own needs above those of everyone else, they will often resort to manipulation to achieve what they want regardless of how it affects other people’s lives and well-being.

This could include using flattery or false promises as a way to get people on their side. Meanwhile, they disregard any potential consequences that could result from following through on these promises later down the line.

Once you have identified a manipulative person, it is important to analyze their behavior to understand why they are manipulating you. Are they trying to gain power over you? Do they want something from you? Or do they simply enjoy having control over other people? Understanding the motives behind their actions will help give insight into how best to handle the situation.

How to Manage Manipulative People in the Workplace

Manipulative behavior is a form of psychological manipulation that involves the use of deceptive tactics to control and influence another person. It can be subtle or overt, but it’s always designed to get someone else to do something they don’t want to do.

Here are some strategies on how to manage manipulative people in the workplace.

Set Boundaries

The best strategy on how to manage manipulative people in the workplace is by setting boundaries for yourself and others. Make sure everyone knows what behaviors are acceptable and which ones are not tolerated.

Be clear about your expectations so there is no confusion about how you expect people to behave around you. If someone crosses those boundaries, make sure they know that their behavior will not be tolerated and take appropriate action if necessary.

Stay Calm and Don’t React Emotionally

When dealing with manipulative people in the workplace, it’s important to stay calm and not react emotionally.

It can be difficult when faced with such an individual who may try all sorts of manipulation tactics to get their way. But remember that responding emotionally will only give them more power over you, so try your best not to let them provoke an emotional reaction from you.

Instead, focus on staying rational and logical while addressing any issues at hand calmly yet firmly. Make them understand that their manipulation tactics won’t work on you anymore.

Document Everything

It’s also important when dealing with manipulative people in the workplace that everything is documented properly. This includes emails sent back and forth between both parties as well as any verbal conversations had during meetings. This ensures there’s evidence should anything need further investigation down the line regarding any allegations made against either party involved–especially if legal action needs to be taken!

Dealing with manipulative people can be difficult and stressful. It is important to remember that it is possible to handle these situations in a way that protects your mental health and well-being.

Building Effective Teams

Creating effective teams is essential for any organization to be successful. Teams that are well-functioning and free from manipulation can help a business reach its goals more quickly and efficiently.

To build such teams, managers should strive to create an environment of openness, empathy, and kindness.

Establish Clear Roles

Team members need to understand their roles within the group so they know what is expected of them. This will also help prevent people from taking on too much or too little responsibility which could lead to conflicts down the line.

Additionally, each member of the team needs to have clear objectives that they are working towards to ensure everyone is on the same page about what needs to be accomplished.

Encourage Open Communication

Managers should foster an atmosphere where all team members feel comfortable speaking up without fear of judgment or criticism.

Encouraging open communication allows everyone’s ideas and opinions to be heard which can lead to better problem-solving as well as improved relationships between colleagues.

It also helps prevent manipulative behavior by ensuring no one person has control over how decisions are made or conversations take place within the group setting.

Promote Empathy

Having empathy towards others helps create a sense of understanding among team members which leads them to feel supported in their work environment rather than threatened by it.

Managers should encourage their employees not only to think about themselves but also to consider how their actions may affect those around them. This kind of attitude will help keep things civil while still allowing room for productive debate when needed.

how to manage manipulative people


Create Opportunities for Collaboration

Giving people opportunities to collaborate on projects encourages teamwork and builds trust between individuals who may not otherwise interact with each other very often. By having different perspectives come together, innovative solutions can emerge that would not have been possible if everyone was working alone.

Furthermore, this type of collaboration gives employees a chance to learn new skills from one another while strengthening existing ones at the same time.

Reward Positive Behavior

Rewarding positive behavior reinforces good habits among team members while discouraging negative ones like manipulation or backstabbing.

Managers should recognize when someone does something helpful or goes above expectations. Whether it’s completing tasks ahead of schedule, or helping out another coworker, rewarding these behaviors makes others see there are benefits associated with being part supportive community instead of just trying to get ahead individually.

Conclusion: How to Manage Manipulative People

It is important to be aware of manipulative people and how they can impact our lives. By learning how to identify them, deal with them effectively, and build effective teams, we can learn how to manage manipulative people in a way that will benefit the team. With the right strategies and tools in place, you can become an even better manager or leader.

Are you struggling to manage manipulative people in the workplace? offers resources and guidance for managers and leaders on how to effectively handle difficult conversations, maintain boundaries, and create a positive working environment. Our goal is to help you develop your skills so that you can lead with confidence. Visit us today and take control of the situation – become an empowered manager or leader who knows how to navigate challenging situations!