Let’s face it, in today’s work environment, it can be difficult to get noticed in order to get ahead. While some people will do this by any means necessary, I just can’t condone that and I believe that getting ahead by being honest, intuitive and strong beats being scheming and manipulative any day. But sometimes the area between competition and manipulation can be a little gray, so how can you tell the difference? 

Manipulative People:

  • Wield their power over others
  • Hold information as collateral in order to get what they want
  • Twist the emotions of those around them in order to gain support and get recognition
  • Use guilt and fear to motivate employees 


Competitive People:

  • Use their power to empower those around them in order to succeed
  • Share the information they have in order to gain support from peers and get ahead
  • Use natural, positive emotional responses to get the support that they want
  • Motivate employees using positive reinforcement and rewards in order to achieve long term gain


It can be easy enough to slip into some patterns of manipulative behavior at work. I’ll be honest here, if it didn’t work so well, people wouldn’t become manipulative in the first place. It’s important to always keep a clear head as you go about your business and remember to always stay positive. I’ve found that if you keep an open, positive frame of mind, it’s almost impossible to become manipulative. The more jaded you become, the more appealing leading by manipulation becomes. 

It’s also important to stay in touch with your intuition. Your gut is likely going to tell you when you’re doing something that doesn’t feel “right” or in line with your sense of business ethics. 

So here’s what you should do next, make a list of where and what you feel powerful in. Then decide if it is manipulative or competitive behavior. Once you do this, then please comment on what you discovered. Better yet, make the necessary changes and tell us about the before-and-after!

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From regional manager to international executive with quadruple the pay, Karen Keller’s unique blueprint carefully outlined the step-by-step process for creating high-impact influence and let me know when I was being influenced in a way that didn’t serve me.
Lloyd Moore
Global Director Supplier Quality & Development - Lear Corporation – South Carolina