Take the hit: methods of psychological defense
Psychological defensiveness is a property of a mature personality, which depends on intelligence, attentiveness, tendency to analyze, critical thinking and emotional stability. We offer you a few tried-and-true techniques of psychological defense.
If you are stung by one or even a few bees, it may be good for your health. But if you are attacked by a swarm of wasps or a victim of a poisonous snake sting, then you will be in trouble. Your competitors, detractors, or enemies can cause you no less harm, just using as a psychological weapon the words that wound your soul. And the longer you worry about it, the more chances you have to be among the losers.
“If a man shows that he is irritated and can not control his emotions, he should do something else, not work with people,” – confidently stated Frenchman Michel Fadul, who has achieved brilliant success in business at the world level.
Psychological security is a property of a mature person. It consists of a whole complex of such characteristics as the level of intellect, attitudes, mindfulness, analytical and reflective tendencies, critical thinking, emotional stability.
More often ask yourself and others the magic questions: what, where, when, how, why, and why? Try to imagine the whole panorama and the dynamics of the event, see the picture as a whole and note contradictions, inconsistencies and white spots, pay attention to details. They are the necessary material for assessing the credibility of the information.
We offer you several psychological defense techniques developed by us and tested at our trainings.
The “Ventilator” technique . Analyze what you react the most painfully. What annoys you? What makes you angry or depressed? Recall specific words, intonations, gestures of your opponents or abusers.
Close your eyes and think again all of the most hurtful, scathing, scalding words that make you feel confused and worthless, or cause powerful outbursts of aggression.
Now imagine that you are sitting across from the person who is dealing you these psychological blows. He’s the one who’s saying cruel, hurtful words to you. And you can feel yourself starting to “turn on” already. Challenge yourself to feel the feeling of being hit. What part of your body reacts to it? What happens: does the whole body feel hot, or does something clench inside, or maybe just interrupt your breathing? What is happening to you specifically?
Use the technique of venting your emotions. Imagine that between you and the offender is a powerful fan, which immediately put his words aside, their sharp arrows do not reach you.
One more thing. Make a figure with your right hand and cover it with the palm of your left hand. Mentally direct it at that person who is trying to take you out of the mental equilibrium. Remember how the same figure helped you in childhood to “take revenge” on the offender.
Open your eyes, and you will surely feel that now you are able to withstand such a psychological blow.
The Aquarium trick. If you continue to react painfully to attacks from people who have a negative attitude toward you, use this trick. Imagine that between you and your offender – a thick glass wall aquarium. He tells you something unflattering, but you only see it, and the words do not hear, they are absorbed by the water and only bubble foam on the surface. That is why they do not work on you. And you, without losing composure and calmness of spirit, do not give in to provocation, do not react to offensive words. And thanks to this turning the situation in your favor.
Reception of “Disneyland” . The pain of the psychological blow can be mitigated, if not reduced to zero, if you treat all people as small children. You are not offended by small children, are you?
Imagine that you are alone against a whole group of people negatively disposed toward you. The preponderance of power on their side. And you have only one chance to turn the situation around: imagine them as a group of children on the playground. They are angry, capricious, shouting, waving their hands, throwing toys on the floor, trampling them with their feet. In general, in every way trying to make you mad. But you, as a mature, wise man, treat their antics as a child’s pranks, and you continue to keep an imperturbable calm until they are exhausted. You don’t take their words as insults, you don’t react to their outbursts. You find it all amusing to watch as an adult.
The “Fox and Grapes” technique . If there have been times in your past when someone managed to annoy you so much that the experience of defeat is still there, use the technique of rationalization, removal of negative “anchors. Recall the fable “The Fox and the Grapes”: not having reached the bunch of grapes, the fox said that she did not really want grapes – they were sour and green.
The “Ocean of Tranquility” technique . Imagine yourself the protagonist of the parable: “The ocean receives the waters of many turbulent rivers, and yet remains still. He in whom all thoughts and emotions flow in the same way, remains impassive in peace.”
The “Theater of the Absurd” technique . It is possible to use such a method of psychological defense as bringing the situation to the point of absurdity. It is basically the same as making an elephant out of a fly. That is to hyperbolize aloud beyond recognition the fact that someone only hints at, and thus unexpectedly knock the psychological weapon out of the hands of their enemies or detractors. Your goal is to make any invective from your detractor cause nothing but laughter. This is the solution to the problem of how to defend against a psychological attack.
The “Puppet Theater” technique. If you find it difficult to communicate with people who are emotionally significant to you, use this technique. Imagine that they are just caricatured characters from the TV show “Puppets”. And let them talk nonsense as they talk among themselves. And you just watch from the sidelines and make your own assessments. Like, this smart guy is pretending to be a superman, and the other one is pretending to be a strong person, a professional, but he is weak, just bluffing. Play this show until you laugh. Your laughter is an indication that the technique worked.
7 Notes of manipulation: how to recognize emotional abuse at work and learn to resist it
There are many ways to manage people. Recently, however, Machiavellian techniques have fallen out of fashion, and people have begun to care about the emotional comfort around them, including in the office. Despite this, psychological manipulation is an effective thing. It’s hard to spot, and even harder to hold the manipulator accountable. Our instruction will help make the company climate so toxic that even work stalls.
Overture: why the manipulation
The word “manipulation” comes from the Latin manipulus. The root manus, “hand,” can be heard in it. The original meaning – an action based on the dexterity of the hands – referred, for example, to the puppeteers, who by dexterous tricks made the puppets dance. And it was only later that the word had another, figurative meaning: trickery, machination. People are usually dissatisfied if they discover that they have been manipulated. It is believed that, as if by invisible strings, they were not led to the result they themselves would wish.
That is, manipulation is a technology of power, it is not applied to good friends, well, at least if they want those friends to remain good.
This impact in psychology refers to the emotional abuse, so it is not surprising that when faced with it, a person feels frustration, guilt, resentment and generally loses confidence. A 2017 study from the University of Manchester Business School proved that working for an aggressive manipulator – and these guys usually exhibit psychopathic and narcissistic traits – threatens health problems. Employees who were unlucky enough to have a boss showed low levels of job satisfaction and a high risk of developing depression. Meanwhile, we can’t say that an obnoxious boss – such a rarity: statistics from SuperJob shows that 55% of 3000 respondents are familiar with situations where the leadership spoils the mood, rudeness, insults, and humiliates.
If manipulation is such a widespread thing, it must have some other, tangible benefit, if it has a negative impact on efficiency. And that benefit to the toxic boss is a sense of power.
If I can lead people around by the nose and get them into trouble, I’m powerful, I control them. I want to emotionally blackmail them, I want to make them do jobs they weren’t going to do, I want to upset other people’s plans.
In this case, the other party, the victim, is also a kind of accomplice to what is happening. After all, it’s a game for two. If we yield to the aggressor’s signals and respond to them by changing our opinions, goals, and habits, then the round has taken place. Sociologist Sergei Kara-Murza, author of the book “Manipulation of Consciousness,” writes: “Manipulation is not violence, but temptation. Although if he had seen your boss and become acquainted with his methods, perhaps he would have changed his mind.
Like the notes.
Psychotherapist Aina Gromova spoke about the notes of manipulation – the vulnerabilities of employees, which is so convenient to press a bad boss. Everyone has a couple or three of these Achilles’ heels. Well, this list will allow the aggressor bosses to expand their musical repertoire.
What it looks like.
Intimidation. The phrase “No man is irreplaceable.” Hints that you’re about to fail and the cost of a mistake is high. An eloquent demonstration that you are unlikely to be tolerated in any other job. Well, unless you are demoted… But no… It won’t work anyway.
Frequent criticism and nagging will add depth to the experience, especially if the employee is not particularly confident. The note of fear works best on people with heightened anxiety.
Re: a sense of duty.
What it looks like.
An urgent alarm, an emergency, a messenger message in the middle of a vacation, and phrases like “If not us, then who?” This is where the boss is free to remove himself, and “we”…that is, you do the job, which at this point is more akin to an Alexander Matrosov feat. This is a particularly demanding task, which no one in the world can handle. And only you, only now (nothing that it’s three in the morning) heroically cover the ambuscade.
It is recommended to apply it to responsible people with perfectionist tendencies and otlichnikov syndrome. They then pull a wild load, and those around them get a visual image: what workaholism looks like with a human face.
What it looks like.
Any misstep, thanks to the reaction of the superiors, takes on the features of a disaster that has changed the world forever.
The employee is hinted at situations in which he did not shine, conflicts near which he stood next to or, God forbid, participated in. If reality loses its familiar contours, it’s gaslighting: the manipulator talks about non-existent things so convincingly that it begins to seem true.
Sometimes a person thinks he hears an insulting, sarcastic, overly personal comment from his boss. There it is again! The comment is fine, but the employee is too vulnerable, has lost his sense of humor and generally reacts painfully to everything. There are many stewed, begin to doubt their reactions.
Tried on people with a pathological sense of guilt, those who, instead of saying, “I will not tolerate comments about my dog” – or, businesslike rolling up their sleeves, “Okay, could be wrong, where to fix it?” – panic and tear their hair out.
What it looks like.
There are subordinates who are ready to move mountains, it’s worth letting them know that you expect something special from them, that they are – yes, yes – the chosen ones of destiny, they have a special role and a special position. With these guys you can alternate between flattery and a disappointed look. For example, a person is about to leave the office at 7 p.m., and the boss shakes his head disapprovingly: “Well, well, that’s exactly what I didn’t expect from you…” And that’s it – the ashamed employee turns on the computer again, so as not to disgrace the Russian land… that is, his glorious reputation.
Blows to self-esteem are especially painful for people who strive for high results, dream about achievements and want to be the best. They do not perceive losing as a game of chance, but as a personal insult, which allows them to trample on a heightened sense of self… “Remember, my dove, last year you blew the tender…”
What it looks like.
A manipulator can initiate into the secrets of the court of Madrid by creating a trusting atmosphere, intrigue, promise to shed light on the darkest corners of the business. And then suddenly pretend to be cryptic, to leave a phrase unsaid, to evade a direct response …
Giving all the same employee some special information, you can celebrate his selectivity or blame him for the leaks.
Curiosity can be played on if the goal is to create a toxic atmosphere in the company. Gossiping about employees is a great way to turn the work team into a branch of the serpentarium.
Works on people with an exploratory streak who get into trouble: first the boss buys their loyalty with information, and then pretends to be a fool and introduces elements of confusion: “That’s not really what happened… Your business trip was not planned in January and not to Kaluga…”
What it looks like.
The wolf is playing the sheep. The game of sacrifice is designed to awaken sympathy and a sense of guilt in the employee: “If you do not help me, I do not even know what to do …”, “No one cares about my problems. The “poor me” tactic can be very powerful, up to and including threatening to lay hands on himself. But in the end, all the sufferers go home, and the pitiful employee ends up spending the night on the report.
The technique works with empathic people prone to altruism.
C: Sexual provocation.
What it looks like.
Inappropriate or inappropriate seduction. The manipulator may use charm, flattery, or overt displays of sexual interest, and with it, an unbuttoned shirt.
A typical tactic of harassers is to pretend that their inappropriate behavior is perfectly normal, and grabbing secretaries by the knees is a common everyday concern.
In doing so, the “no” response that the victim mumbles is not taken as an answer, and the aggressor shows rare persistence. Another common technique: to make it clear that the employee owes his boss, because he has helped his career so much, and how he can influence it in the future – oh-ho-ho!
Applies to people who think they should be nice and accommodating, especially in the face of superiors.
Coda: What a victim of manipulation can do
Roman Shcherbinin, a lawyer, senior partner of the Zheleznikov and Partners Bar Association, says that it is difficult to count on the law in this case. For example, if we are talking about sexual harassment, it makes more sense to appeal to public censure rather than to lawyers. Such disputes have not yet been elevated to the status of labor torts, and from the point of view of the law, it is not a violation.
And if, for example, your bosses force you to work after hours, then, according to Roman, “it is your goodwill. Refusal to do some work on Sunday cannot be grounds for dismissal. If the boss is satanic, the lawyer recommends writing a complaint to the State Labor Inspectorate, and this institution will deal with violations. “But I can say that in Russia, unlike in foreign jurisdictions, this is not common,” Roman concludes sadly.
And psychotherapist Aina Gromova suggests being wary if certain elements of corporate culture suddenly begin to spread to you, bypassing the rest of the company:
“When you come to work, you immediately notice how things work here. If the whole office stays late after work, this is their unspoken order. You can refuse to work under such conditions or you can accept them. But if you are suddenly the only one who gets late-night calls while everyone else does not sacrifice sleep, it means that something special is expected of your figure here.
As a response to manipulation, there are two ways to respond. The first is to ignore and act in accordance with the aggressor’s expectations. This is your way of communicating that this is normal practice with regard to you. The second option is to set boundaries, to make it clear that such an attitude is unacceptable.
Understanding your boundaries begins with the ability to answer the questions: who I am, why I am doing something and why I am doing it.
Such a view allows you to evaluate yourself at work, to see the successes and failures. If you have a clear view of yourself as a specialist and your own position, it will be extremely difficult to manipulate you. Psychologically mature person, by analyzing the situation, can recognize the different elements of exposure, to see where they are trying to take anger out on you, where they pry into your personal space, where they give unsolicited advice. If you keep finding yourself in the zone of other people’s manipulations, perhaps you need to work painstakingly on your own boundaries.
You do not have to listen to comments about your appearance, personal life, or feel total guilt for a minor misstep.
Analyze the claims of the boss: the boss has the right to evaluate your performance, give you a bonus or withdraw financial compensation.
But if the person allows himself personal outbursts, he shows himself as a toxic leader. In any case, the behavior of the boss is not the end of the story. It is up to you to respond to it. As long as you are in the manipulation zone, it means that the ball is on your side of the field and you have to give the right answer.
This response will be an expression of your disagreement to play by the rules of the manipulator. And the main thing here will be the ability to say no. Without apologizing, without suffering, without falling into guilt, without finding a hundred thousand excuses. “No, that doesn’t work for me,” “No, I’m not ready,” “No, I don’t tolerate that tone of voice toward me.” This is a useful skill to avoid flattery, aggression, or any of your attacker’s other tricks.