One of my clients has a difficult manipulative boss. My client wants to confront this boss about changing his role, and he knows that his boss is going to use a couple of manipulation techniques.
One thing the boss is going to do is offer all these false promises of change to quell his aggravations. This is the “delay tactic”, which is to distract someone with promises to delay change. The longer change is delayed, the less likely it is to happen.
To prevent this tactic being used, don’t give them anything that can be fixed. Rather than complaining about your current situation, if you want to just leave then talk about the new potential role as one that better aligns with your life goals.
And the other thing this boss is going to do is attack my client. He’ll accuse him of being a bad employee, and guilt trip him for wanting these changes.
And this is where you can use a rolling with resistance technique that I call “the agreement frame”.
When you're up against someone manipulative who's trying to stop you doing what you want to do for their own selfish reasons, you can use the agreement frame to treat everything they say as if they agree with you.
This is particularly effective against manipulators that like to bluff with threats, e.g. a partner who threatens to break up with you.
So if this guy's boss says, “I've been working here for 25 years to make your career better and this is how you repay my kindness!” my client can say, “You know what? You're right! I am too ungrateful for this position. We should change my role so that I don’t keep upsetting you like this.”
The basic premise is: if I’m a problem, then instead of fixing the problem we should change our situation so that you don’t have to deal with me.
This is a helpful stutter-step technique for when you’re not yet brave enough to just call out their manipulation and stand your ground assertively.
Note: this technique is specifically for dealing with people who try to shame you into doing what they want as a manipulation technique. This is not for dealing with someone who has well-intentioned and accurate feedback designed to support your best interests.
For more on this topic, check out my longer podcast “Advanced Manipulation Techniques to Be Aware Of” here: