How to resist psychological pressure
General methods of protection against psychological pressure. Identification of the reasons why the partner has a power advantage.
Eugene Dotsenko Professor, Doctor of Psychology, Dean of the Faculty of Psychology at Tyumen State University, Head of the Department of General and Social Psychology
Everyone knows by his own experience how unpleasant it is to find yourself under pressure from someone else. A little confused – and you begin to act as an automaton, executing one of the children’s programs: to flee, to engage in combat, etc. So how do you get out of the familiar rut?
The first thing you need to do as preparation for defense is to stop your impulsive reaction and start researching.
You can do this in different ways. Sometimes they recommend: Count to ten. You can, but it works poorly. Still advised: look carefully at the person with whom you communicate, look for some details that characterize him. For example, the features of clothing, facial expressions, gestures, or, say, the features of his workplace. This helps better.
Even more effective is to start keeping track of any changes in your partner’s state of mind that occur as he goes along. Try to intercept the gaze: where does it shift? Match the content of the words with hand movements or facial expressions. For example, it may be that the interlocutor is not looking you in the eyes, but somewhere above you or to the side, or maybe down (uncomfortable for himself?). Sometimes menacing words contrast with the bustle of the hands: pulling a button, thoughtlessly shifting something on the table, etc. All this information allows you to make assumptions about your partner’s state, motives, and intentions.
Once you’ve managed to put yourself in the researcher’s state, you can begin to figure out what kind of pressure you’re experiencing on yourself. If it is pressure or humiliation, which are recognized fairly quickly, then you can immediately begin to protect yourself from them.
Defending against psychological pressure
So, you’re under pressure: you’re experiencing explicit coercion. For example:
- You are asked to do something that you would really hate to do, but it is difficult to refuse, because you are dependent on the asker.
- You are asked to do something, you refuse, but you are being pressured to do something:
- You don’t want to take responsibility?
- It sounds like you are afraid.
- I suspect that. – Some sort of insinuation follows.
It is worth recalling that pressure can be exerted using rumors, petty nagging, veiled threats, innuendos, etc.
1. To buy time, ask questions. Based on the above examples, in the first case it is a good idea to ask: “I can disagree?” If the partner said you were free to choose, then you can refer to that statement and say no. If, however, a hint of your dependence was made, try to ask if your refusal will have any consequences.
It is essential for you to make the connection between the request and the dependence clear and distinct. As a rule, the aggressor wants to avoid looking like the aggressor (especially in front of witnesses), and it may be that he or she would prefer not to press further.
If this relationship was clearly marked from the beginning, then the meaning of the questioning will mainly be to gain time to think about further tactics.
In the second case, the pressure from the interlocutor can be eased by a series of clarifying questions:
- What led you to believe that I refuse to take responsibility? What am I not taking responsibility for? To whom will I be responsible? Responsibility must be balanced by the granting of power, in what way will it be expressed?
- What makes you think I am afraid? What could I be afraid of here? Can you find no other explanation for my refusal?
- On what do you base your suspicions? Why did you make that assumption? How can we verify your information? Have you verified this information?
The main point of this questioning is to find out exactly why your partner has a power advantage. That is, you should:
2. Identify the type of power your partner is using. You really need to identify the source of his power over you. Then you can more accurately organize a fight back.
Maybe he only counts on shouting – it would be wise not to give in, and wait until his shouting stock runs out when he starts to run through the same tricks a second time. Then a third. Or maybe the pressure is organized through those present: “Would you look at that. “, “Tell me. “, “It’s clear to everyone that. “. Don’t shush, scrutinize the reactions of those to whom these phrases are sort of addressed. The mere fact that you are considering these people compels them to give you some kind of signal. Very rarely is there complete unanimity among observers. It may turn out that there is someone who will stand up for you. And at the very least, you can always turn the silence of those present to your advantage.
The main thing – do not let yourself be broken, calmly and unhurriedly object. Look for an opportunity to question the detected kind of force or to weaken it in some other way.
For example, there is a reference to authority – weaken either the authority, or the scope of the judgment: say, for this case, it is not suitable, or only partially suitable. If the partner emphasizes his age – find arguments in favor of your age as well.
Do not belittle his arguments by themselves (keep the prospect of cooperation), but limit their applicability to some objective considerations. For example, the partner is counting on a previous good relationship with you or services previously rendered. Without downplaying their importance, show how difficult it is for you to do what is expected of you. Explain in detail the nature of your problems, show why they outweigh the power of previous services. Of course, all of this must be true.
If your partner is trying to influence you at the expense of a high rate of communication (by rush), think of an excuse to stop: say you need to make a call, turn off the kettle, go away – anything that can serve as a convenient excuse to interrupt the onslaught. Then set a slower, more comfortable for you pace of the conversation. And every time he begins to rush you, ask for any details, “study the problem. Reception, of course, bureaucratic, but if the partner can use the “unclean” method, it is not always “clean”. But it is necessary to do it exactly enough to suspend the partner. You should abandon the reception as soon as it begins to destroy your relationship.
Further, if you are still not sufficiently protected, try:
Find a new kind of power by which you are stronger. This could be: someone else’s support, a previous relationship, your role as a money-maker or order-getter for the firm, etc.
For the sake of maintaining the prospect of cooperation, it is best to avoid using retaliatory pressure explicitly. It is best if your arguments relate to any previous arrangements. It is good if you can turn the logic of inquiries so that circumstances or objective requirements suggest a different solution – fine, if it suits both parties (the strength of your ability to analyze the problem is added to the strength of objective circumstances).
Make sure that you do not get carried away in carrying out attacks on the partner, do not revel in his qualifications as an arguer. After all, for you need only equalize the balance of power. Once you have completed the task of neutralizing the pressure, look for an opportunity to agree on how to solve the problem, what you need to do to do this. You can then discuss how you will interact in similar situations from now on. That is:
4. Offer cooperation. Offer it already by the very style of behavior, the nature of the agreements. The main protective effect will be that you have found ways to weaken (destroy) the pressure from the partner and to counter your own strength. And there is also a promising result: you are accustoming your partner to the fact that it is useless to put pressure on you.
In a collaborative orientation, fighting for future relationships is more important than fighting for short-term gain (note the fight, but not with the partner, but for the relationship). So even if you lose in a given situation and have to give in, it’s not unreasonable to somehow put a perspective on things. There is no point in accusing or trying to hurt the offender, it is better to leave something (maybe only as if) unspoken, unexplained, to keep the possibility to return to this issue. Yes, you submit, you give in, but you do not agree with this outcome, and still expect to change something.
Avoid threats. Going back to the problem is about analyzing it. Your partner will have no difficulty admitting the incorrectness of his behavior after he got his way. As long as he is “kind,” talk him out of this admission. Later, the very reminder of this conversation will become a barrier to the repetition of psychological abuse. And even if your partner will then be able to overcome this obstacle, the next portion of your influence will be attached to the previous one. Gradually you will “tune up” your partner in a more peaceful way.
7 notes of manipulation: how to recognize emotional abuse at work and learn to resist it
There are many ways to manage people. Recently, though, 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 these manipulations
The word “manipulation” comes from the Latin manipulus. The root manus, “hand,” can be heard in it. The original meaning, an action based on manual dexterity, referred, for example, to puppeteers who made puppets dance by dexterous tricks. And it was only later that the word had another, figurative meaning – a trick, a deception. 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 does not apply 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 3,000 respondents are familiar with situations where management 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? Here the boss is free to remove himself, and “we”… that is, you do the job, which at the moment is more like a feat of Alexander Matrosov. 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 failed in a 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 to an 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 a research vein 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 for January and not to Kaluga…”
What it looks like.
The wolf plays the sheep. The game of sacrifice is conceived in such a way as to arouse sympathy and a feeling of guilt in the worker: “If you don’t help me, I don’t even know what to do…,” “Nobody 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 and 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 getting night calls while everyone else is not sacrificing 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.