Contributed by Jim Thiemens and Gary EyringManipulation is to manage, influence or shrewdly/ deviously change, adjust and maneuver situations for ones own gain. When a person, race, gender, or nation (the entity) has a need that is not being met, they can become manipulative in their behavior. At a fundamental level, human emotional needs consist of these three key "feelings".
When the needs of an individual, gender, race or nation have been socially and individually censured to a point where they have been suppressed, the entity no longer dares demonstrate their needs openly.
They still possess sufficient energy to express some feeling on the matter, and so what they feel comes forth covertly and often manifests itself as manipulation.
It is important to remember that the entity that is manipulating may be acting this way because of a bad experience where they were behaving “overtly” (in the open) with clarity. Their behavior became suppressed by another or others, leaving the entity’s only avenue of expression, in their reality, to covertly manipulate.
It can also be a perception of “lack” or “not enough to go around” that can motivate manipulative behavior. It becomes a lack of Trust that needs cannot be met openly and fairly.
To handle this, as a leader or teammate, they should identify a specific incident, clearly evaluate what happened and passively confront the entity, either individually or as a group.
An example, for an individual: “I noticed some figures were adjusted on the quarterly review statement. Can you tell me about that?” This lets the person know you saw their behavior. Passive confrontation, by asking them a question, reduces or eliminates the feeling of "threat".
It is important to persist here without being critical or starting an argument. Criticizing and arguing just drives the problem further underground.
Political orientation aside, the recent speech by Senator Obama on race relations was an excellent example of passive confrontation – asking and exploring questions without blame or shame with the intention of “opening” a conversation.
Practicing the art of passive confrontation allows the leader to deal with issues without creating a defensive reaction. In addition, the person who feels the need to manipulate in order to express themselves may begin to experience the value of an "open" conversation.
Is your organization functioning in such a way as to suppress open clear behaviors in good people and forcing them underground to manipulate or other covert actions rather than full open expression?