Archive for October, 2013

Bullying Management and Psychological Manipulation

Psychological manipulation is a type of social influence that aims to change the perception or behaviour of others through underhanded, deceptive, or even abusive tactics. This is done by advancing the interests of the manipulator, often at another’s expense, such methods could be considered exploitative, abusive, devious, deceptive and bullying. Yep psychological manipulation is often the modus operandi of the workplace bully. Knowing their mindset allows you to nip at source their power and rendering them weakened and ineffectual.

However, before we begin I should point out that not all Social influence is necessarily negative. For example, doctors can try to persuade patients to change unhealthy habits. Social influence is generally perceived to be harmless when it respects the right of the influenced to accept or reject and is not unduly coercive. But depending on the context and motivations, social influence may constitute underhanded manipulation and bullying. In the case of our manager/employer you can decide for yourself whether they are socially influencing you for the right reasons or manipulating you into a destructive mindset for their own agenda.

If you are resistant to the social influence and the manipulator applies undue pressure and assault then you are probably being bullied and you need to take charge and learn the skills necessary to turn the tables before you become ill.

What the Bully requires for successful manipulation

According to psychology author George K. Simon, successful psychological manipulation primarily involves the manipulator:

  1. concealing aggressive intentions and behaviours.
  2. knowing the psychological vulnerabilities of the victim to determine what tactics are likely to be the most effective.
  3. having a sufficient level of ruthlessness to have no qualms about causing harm to the victim if necessary.

Consequently the manipulation is likely to be accomplished through covert aggressive means.

Motivations of bullying manipulators

Manipulators can have various possible motivations, including:

  • the need to advance their own purposes and personal gain at virtually any cost to others
  • a strong need to attain feelings of power and superiority in relationships with others
  • a want and need to feel in control (aka. control freak)
  • a desire to gain a feeling of power over others in order to raise their perception of self-esteem

How bullying manipulators control their victims

The following basic ways that manipulators control their victims:

  • Positive reinforcement: includes praise, superficial charm, superficial sympathy (crocodile tears), excessive apologising, money, approval, gifts, attention, facial expressions such as a forced laugh or smile, and public recognition.
    • Negative reinforcement: involves removing one from a negative situation as a reward, e.g. “You won’t have to do your homework if you allow me to do this to you.”
    • Intermittent or partial reinforcement: Partial or intermittent negative reinforcement can create an effective climate of fear and doubt. Partial or intermittent positive reinforcement can encourage the victim to persist – for example in most forms of gambling, the gambler is likely to win now and again but still lose money overall.
    • Punishment: includes nagging, yelling, the silent treatment, intimidation, threats, swearing, emotional blackmail, the guilt trip, sulking, crying, and playing the victim.
    • Traumatic one-trial learning: using verbal abuse, explosive anger, or other intimidating behaviour to establish dominance or superiority; even one incident of such behaviour can condition or train victims to avoid upsetting, confronting or contradicting the manipulator.
    • Lying: It is hard to tell if somebody is lying at the time they do it, although often the truth may be apparent later when it is too late. One way to minimise the chances of being lied to is to understand that some personality types (particularly psychopaths) are experts at the art of lying and cheating, doing it frequently, and often in subtle ways.
    • Lying by omission: This is a very subtle form of lying by withholding a significant amount of the truth. This technique is also used in propaganda.
    • Denial: Manipulator refuses to admit that he or she has done something wrong.
    • Rationalisation: An excuse made by the manipulator for inappropriate behaviour. Rationalisation is closely related to spin.
    • Minimisation: This is a type of denial coupled with rationalisation. The manipulator asserts that his or her behaviour is not as harmful or irresponsible as someone else was suggesting, for example saying that a taunt or insult was only a joke.
    • Selective inattention or selective attention: Manipulator refuses to pay attention to anything that may distract from his or her agenda, saying things like “I don’t want to hear it”.
    • Diversion: Manipulator not giving a straight answer to a straight question and instead being diversionary, steering the conversation onto another topic.
    • Evasion: Similar to diversion but giving irrelevant, rambling, vague responses, weasel words.
    • Covert intimidation: Manipulator throwing the victim onto the defensive by using veiled (subtle, indirect or implied) threats.
    • Guilt trip: A special kind of intimidation tactic. A manipulator suggests to the conscientious victim that he or she does not care enough, is too selfish or has it easy. This usually results in the victim feeling bad, keeping them in a self-doubting, anxious and submissive position.
    • Shaming: Manipulator uses sarcasm and put-downs to increase fear and self-doubt in the victim. Manipulators use this tactic to make others feel unworthy and therefore defer to them. Shaming tactics can be very subtle such as a fierce look or glance, unpleasant tone of voice, rhetorical comments, subtle sarcasm. Manipulators can make one feel ashamed for even daring to challenge them. It is an effective way to foster a sense of inadequacy in the victim.
    • Playing the victim role: Manipulator portrays him- or herself as a victim of circumstance or of someone else’s behaviour in order to gain pity, sympathy or evoke compassion and thereby get something from another. Caring and conscientious people cannot stand to see anyone suffering and the manipulator often finds it easy to play on sympathy to get cooperation.
    • Vilifying the victim: More than any other, this tactic is a powerful means of putting the victim on the defensive while simultaneously masking the aggressive intent of the manipulator.
    • Playing the servant role: Cloaking a self-serving agenda in guise of a service to a more noble cause, for example saying he is acting in a certain way for “obedience” and “service” to God or a similar authority figure.
    • Seduction: Manipulator uses charm, praise, flattery or overtly supporting others in order to get them to lower their defences and give their trust and loyalty to him or her.
    • Projecting the blame (blaming others): Manipulator scapegoats in often subtle, hard-to-detect ways.
    • Feigning innocence: Manipulator tries to suggest that any harm done was unintentional or that they did not do something that they were accused of. Manipulator may put on a look of surprise or indignation. This tactic makes the victim question his or her own judgment and possibly his own sanity.
    • Feigning confusion: Manipulator tries to play dumb by pretending he or she does not know what the victim is talking about or is confused about an important issue brought to his attention.
    • Brandishing anger: Manipulator uses anger to brandish sufficient emotional intensity and rage to shock the victim into submission. The manipulator is not actually angry, he or she just puts on an act. He just wants what he wants and gets “angry” when denied.

Vulnerabilities exploited by bullying manipulators

Manipulators exploit the following vulnerabilities (buttons) that may exist in victims:

  • the “disease to please”
  • addiction to earning the approval and acceptance of others
  • Emotophobia (fear of negative emotion; i.e. a fear of expressing anger, frustration or disapproval)
  • lack of assertiveness and ability to say no
  • blurry sense of identity (with soft personal boundaries)
  • low self-reliance
  • external locus of control
  • naïveté – victim finds it too hard to accept the idea that some people are cunning, devious and ruthless or is “in denial” if he or she is being victimised.
  • over-conscientiousness – victim is too willing to give manipulator the benefit of the doubt and see their side of things in which they blame the victim.
  • low self-confidence – victim is self-doubting, lacking in confidence and assertiveness, likely to go on the defensive too easily.
  • over-intellectualisation – victim tries too hard to understand and believes the manipulator has some understandable reason to be hurtful.
  • emotional dependency – victim has a submissive or dependent personality. The more emotionally dependent the victim is, the more vulnerable he or she is to being exploited and manipulated.

Bullying Manipulators generally take the time to scope out the characteristics and vulnerabilities of their victim.

Here is a list of those who are vulnerable to psychopathic manipulators:

  • too dependent – dependent people need to be loved and are therefore gullible and liable to say yes to something to which they should say no.
  • too immature – has impaired judgment and believes the exaggerated advertising claims.
  • too naïve – cannot believe there are dishonest people in the world, taking for granted that if there were they would not be allowed to operate.
  • too impressionable – overly seduced by charmers. For example, they might vote for the seemingly charming politician who kisses babies.
  • too trusting – people who are honest often assume that everyone else is honest. They are more likely to commit themselves to people they hardly know without checking credentials, etc., and less likely to question so-called experts.
  • too lonely – lonely people may accept any offer of human contact. A psychopathic stranger may offer human companionship for a price.
  • too narcissistic – narcissists are prone to falling for unmerited flattery.
  • too impulsive – make snap decisions about, for example, what to buy or whom to marry without consulting others.
  • too altruistic – the opposite of psychopathic: too honest, too fair, too empathetic.
  • too frugal – cannot say no to a bargain even if they know the reason it is so cheap.
  • too materialistic – easy prey for loan sharks or get-rich-quick schemes.
  • too greedy – the greedy and dishonest may fall prey to a psychopath who can easily entice them to act in an immoral way.
  • too masochistic – lack self-respect and so unconsciously let psychopaths take advantage of them. They think they deserve it out of a sense of guilt.
  • the elderly – the elderly can become fatigued and less capable of multi-tasking. When hearing a sales pitch they are less likely to consider that it could be a con. They are prone to giving money to someone with a hard-luck story. See elder abuse.

Help for Those Feeing Bullied.

If you feel you are being bullied, harassed, harangued or stressed by a bullying manipulator then you need to learn how you can regain the controls of your life. Learn to Stop the Bullies Now! It is time to put an end to your suffering.

Get in touch and together we can build your strategy.

October 23, 2013 at 3:48 pm 1 comment

What to expect with the new HSG65 and PDCA

Deming Cycle: The Wheel of Continuous Improvement

Those of us old enough to remember Total Quality Management movement of the 1980s will see the direct relationship of the proposed PDCA process and Demming’s PDCA cycle of Continuous Improvement. However, those of us who were heavily involved in the TQM movement also remember that the PDCA Cycle can have serious unintentional consequences when incorrectly implemented. I hope that history is not about to repeat itself with the new HSG65.

Dr. J. Edward Deming, the famous quality guru, provided a simple yet highly effective technique that serves as a practical tool to carry out continuous improvement in the workplace. This technique is called PDCA Cycle or simply Deming Cycle. PDCA is acronym of Plan, Do, Check and Action. PDCA Cycle provides conceptual as well as practical framework while carrying out Kaizen activities by the employees.  The essence of the PDCA cycle lies in employee involvement. This happens when they improve their process, product or services by applying their creative faculties on their work related problems and routine jobs. Kaizen (Japanese word meaning continuous improvement) provides these employees a platform to unleash their creativity.

Let’s understand the concept with following illustration:


Deming/PDCA Cycle

 The four steps Plan, Do, Check and Act should be repeated over time to ensure continuous learning and improvements in a function, product or process.

For example if employees want to improve either of the above areas, they should ask themselves about following question during the PLANNING phase of this cycle:

  1. What are we trying to accomplish?
  2. What changes can we make that will result in improvement?
  3. How will we know that a change is an improvement?

PLAN stage involves analysing the current situation, gathering data, and developing ways to make improvements.

The DO stage involves testing alternatives experimentally in a laboratory establishing a pilot process, or trying it out with small number of customers.

The CHECK stage requires determining whether the trial or process is working as intended, whether any revisions are needed, or whether is should be scrapped.

The ACT stage focuses on implementing the process within the organization or with its customers and suppliers.

Once all this stages are completed to the fullest satisfaction, the improvement is standardised. The standardised work or product is the result of improvement initiative but it is not stopped here. With the changing circumstances or new techniques this standardised work, process, product or service is again subjected to further improvement thus repeating the  PDCA Cycle again and again.

Unintended Consequences

In theory the PDCA Cycle is an excellent ideal but there can be unintended cnsequences when its importance becomes greater than the process it is monitoring for improvement. The worst question in the programme has to be when management ask “How do we know we are improving?” Then we create the wedge of administrative destruction. Time, Money and Effort all focus on feeding the admin system. Production is lost, safety is compromised and businesses become unprofitable. Avoiding the bottomless admin pit requires a focus on ‘Doing the Right Things Right’ and keeping a perspective on what is required.

Below are a few hints as to what you will need to do within your organisations.


“Haste makes waste.” Ben Franklin

Planning is the stage in the PDCA process which is most often overlooked when people are rushed to get something done. But beware! You overlook planning at your own peril!

Follow the steps below to help with your planning process.

  1. Review your current philosophy, purpose, strengths, and situation!
  2. Define your am, and set your specific goals!
  3. Decide if you are ready, willing, and able to commit!
  4. Design your process, determine your priorities, resources, and timeline!


After planning, it is time to move to the execution stage of the Plan, Do Study, Act cycle. It is time to do whatever your “it” is.

When you are focusing on the “do” stage, remember to do the following:

Focus, Coordinate, and Control Your Performance and Document your Results!
(Preferably on a Small Scale)

Focus your performance. The great management guru Dr. W. Edwards Deming wrote that constancy of purpose is one of the key ingredients of success. Know where you want to go, and stay focused on performing activities that serve to further those goals.

Coordinate your performance. You do not work in a vacuum. And you are not serving your organization by personally succeeding at the expense of others or at the expense of the goals of the organization. All work must be coordinated to produce maximum benefit for the organization.

Control your performance. Work within defined and accepted parameters to make sure you are in compliance with health, safety, and other regulations.

Document your results. Remember – if it isn’t documented, it isn’t done! Without proper documentation, you won’t be able to carry out the next stage – Check!

Preferably on a small scale. This is still an early stage in getting “It” done. Don’t commit more resources than necessary until you have completed the PDCA process at least once. You still need to decide whether or not your methods were successful in this stage before you ramp up.


Cecking, the third phase of the Plan, Do, Check, Act process, requires us to look at what we have done, and evaluate it Did it accomplish what we expected? Were there unintended consequences? Is there a better way we could do it next time?

In order to answer these questions, we look at the system, and evaluate it and its outcomes. We measure data and variation using statistical processes.


Cause and Effect Diagram (Ishikawa Diagram)
Cause and effect diagrams visually plot causes of a certain event. Causes are usually grouped into major categories to identify these sources of variation

Control Chart
Control charts are tools used to determine whether or not a business process is in a state of statistical control.


After you have gone through planning, doing, and studying, you get to the “Act” stage of PDCA. This stage requires you to use the analysis you did in the “Check” stage, and make one of the three choices:

  • Integrate what you have done into your organization and implement it on a larger scale. This is done when your first attempt was completely successful, and you don’t want to change anything.
  • Take corrective and preventive action. This is done when your first attempt was somewhat successful, but you learned from it and need to adjust the process.
  • Abandon the idea. This is done when your attempt was completely unsuccessful, and you don’t want to integrate any of it into your business operations.

There are different types of “acting” in organizations. When implemented as part of the PDCA cycle, “acting” is really “pro-acting” instead of “re-acting.” PDCA requires that we look ahead and anticipate what might happen, and prepare for it. People who take shortcuts with the PDCA cycle often end up in a “Do – Act” process, skipping the planning and the checking. This could really be renamed a “Do – React” process, whereby many resources are wasted.

October 9, 2013 at 8:09 pm Leave a comment


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