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7 Signs You Work for a Manipulative Boss

You may be controlled by your boss and not even know it. Here are the signs you should look for.

Are you dealing with a boss who stresses you out at work?

You are not alone as research reveals that bad boss behaviors have gone up by a whopping 50 percent. Manipulation is all about power and control. Its central theme is to take advantage of others. A manipulative boss creates a great deal of suffering for those reporting to him or her.

Are you wondering whether your boss is one of them?

Here are seven of the biggest signs:

1. Pulls your guilt strings

A boss with manipulative tendencies may try to make you feel guilty. They constantly remind you of how he/she has helped you in the past (or even mentored you on the job) and why you should bend to their will.

Dr. George Simon, author of international bestseller In Sheep's Clothing: Understanding and Dealing with Manipulative People, explains further. "Conscientious people possess good consciences, and are capable of shame and guilt," he says. "So, by pressing your guilt button or inviting you to feel ashamed, a skilled manipulator can easily sway you."

2. Serves you the silent treatment

Also, a crafty boss maintains psychological dominance by using the silent treatment. They intentionally ignore your text messages, emails, calls, etc. This is frustrating in a situation where you report directly to them and want to discuss job challenges, progress plans, team needs, etc. According to a Psychology Today article by Preston Ni, an author and professor of communication studies at Foothill College, it's a mind game designed to further entrench their position as somebody you can't do without. It's a quiet way to get you to yield to their demands.

3. Plays the blame game

A crafty manager is never to be blamed when things go wrong at the workplace. It is always the fault of others.

They make excuses for their weaknesses and makes scapegoats out of their employees.

4. Distortion of facts

Most often, a manipulative manager is a compulsive liar. They engage in outright lies, half-truths, limited disclosure or withholding of vital information, etc. to get some form of leverage over you. Simon agrees with Ni. He says lying is at the very core of manipulation. And that controlling managers need to constantly lie to cover up their nefarious activities and hidden agenda. He goes on to call them "skilled liars and masters of deception."

5. Raised voice and display of negative emotions

To further entrench their psychological superiority, an aggressive manager may raise their voice during discussions.

The belief is simple -- if they project their voice loudly and show negative emotions, you may be forced to do what they want.

I mean, it worked as a child, right?

6. Sarcastic comments to make you feel inferior

A mean boss may also make sarcastic comments about your appearance, qualifications, or even something as silly as your older iPhone model, in the presence of other employees, to make you look or feel bad. Aside from the use of sarcasm, they may ridicule and always find fault with you to maintain a strong hold on you and your emotions.

The trick is to constantly present you as inadequate no matter how hard you try.

7. Overwhelms you with "official" bottlenecks

A manipulative manager may also use "official" paperwork, laws and by-laws, committees, and other bottlenecks to maintain their advantage over you while making life problematic at the office.

Wrapping It All Up

A controlling boss would do anything to win and dominate, even if it means hurting you in the process.

They convince you they're only trying to help when they're actually out to control you. The trick is to recognize the manipulation and decide the best way forward.



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