This Is How You Deal With A Co-Worker Who Is Manipulative

Dealing with a manipulative co-worker can be one of the most challenging aspects of the workplace. According to a study by the University of California, Berkeley, around 20% of corporate leaders display manipulative tendencies. While this trait isn’t confined to leadership roles, its presence in any team member can create a toxic work environment. As an executive leadership coach, I often address how to handle such challenging personalities effectively. Let’s explore strategies for dealing with manipulative co-workers constructively and professionally.

Recognize Manipulative Behaviors: Identify the behavior. Manipulation can be subtle, like passive-aggressive comments, or overt, like taking credit for others’ work.

Maintain Professional Boundaries: Establish clear boundaries. Be firm about your limits to prevent manipulation from affecting your work and well-being.

Keep a Record of Interactions: Document your interactions. Having a factual record can be invaluable, especially if the situation escalates or requires mediation.

Stay Emotionally Detached: Don’t let emotions dictate your response. Manipulative individuals often exploit emotional reactions; staying calm and composed can mitigate their influence.

Communicate Clearly and Assertively: Express yourself clearly. Assertive communication leaves little room for manipulation, making your stance known and respected.

Seek Support and Advice: You’re not alone. Talk to a trusted colleague, mentor, or supervisor for perspective and advice on handling the situation.

Avoid Gossip and Office Politics: Don’t fuel the fire. Engaging in gossip or office politics can exacerbate the situation and reflect poorly on your professionalism.

Focus on Solutions, Not Blame: Aim for resolution. Instead of assigning blame, focus on finding constructive solutions to the issues at hand.

Dealing with a manipulative co-worker requires a combination of awareness, tact, and assertiveness. By adopting these strategies, you can navigate these challenging situations with professionalism and poise.

Lead From Within: In confronting manipulation, remember that your integrity and professionalism are your strongest assets. Lead by example, and maintain your composure and principles in the face of adversity.



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The Leadership Gap
What Gets Between You and Your Greatness

After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.

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Lolly Daskal is one of the most sought-after executive leadership coaches in the world. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans 14 countries, six languages and hundreds of companies. As founder and CEO of Lead From Within, her proprietary leadership program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their companies, their lives, and the world.

Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR,, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.

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