The Influence Game: Fight Intimidation by Spotting Deceitful People

While it is important to solidify your power and build a political network within your organization, always be aware of the downside of becoming a target of carping by the envious. Envious and malicious people often attempt to intimidate you. Their goal is to make you feel that your growing power carries no significance. Be aware that this is envy.

There's only one really good strategy to follow if you want to win out against envy. Watch the power plays that others employ. Study them objectively and learn as much as you can. By studying the behavior of others, you learn a tremendous amount about how your enemies and opponents operate. Watch how they attack others. Watch their deceitfulness. When they attack others, they are making the mistakes and you are reaping the benefits by learning about their game plan.

There are five common types of deceitful detractors.

⦁    Bullies try to bulldoze and intimidate you. Bullies are hard to analyze. Your best defense is to assess their clout with objectivity. Watch how the bully attacks others. Once you understand how much influence they really have, stand your ground despite all attempts to sway you. Bullies expect their opponents to fold quickly, and they feed off the reactions to what they say and do. Give the bully nothing and you will wear them down.

⦁    The sleight-of-hand artist tries to throw you off your game by using false information. They'll tried to deceive you by planting a seed that makes you doubt your own thinking, causing you to lose confidence. Just before a meeting the sleight-of-hand artist will tell you, "The vice president proposed the same idea last year and got shot down. You don’t have a chance for approval if the committee shot him down." While it's hard not to be fooled once or twice by the clever sleight-of-hand artist, watch out and make sure you only get fooled once.

⦁    The self-aggrandizer routinely exaggerates their political clout and their contribution to the organization. When the CEO says good morning to them in the hallway, that innocuous greeting becomes a policy meeting. Over time, objectively look for discrepancies between what a person says and what you see with your own two eyes. Consistent self-aggrandizing is never taken seriously by anyone. Unless there are other considerations—for example, the individual is the child of the owner—you don't need to take them very seriously.

⦁    More dangerous are the insinuators who like to stir up intrigue and trouble. This kind of person stops by your office to tell you that the CFO had to rework your sales reports because they were disorganized. The poisonous snake will even hint that they are on your side and offer to help you complete your projects. Stay away from these folks; they only want to harm you. Always check out second- and third-hand reports, going directly to the individual the insinuator claimed had a problem with your work, and validate what they tell you. These people are often highly magnetic and gain credibility with other people. They're dangerous because they carry their intrigues to other people when they fail to have an effect on you. Your best defense is to let this person continue to play their game until they are exposed. But don't go warning others that the insinuator is a chronic liar, because this will drag you into a never-ending battle of charges and counter-charges.

⦁    Perhaps the most deceitful person is the strategist who purposely misleads you in order to make themselves look better. For example, when you are working on a project together, the strategist will tell you there's no hurry. When you follow their lead, they secretly catapult forward and finish their part of the project ahead of you. Or they will drag out their portion of their project, claiming that they can't finish because you haven't done your work. Your best defense is not to be intimidated and to do your work at your own pace. Upper management usually can see through the strategist’s antics.

You must understand the motivation behind these forms of aggression and then formulate the appropriate defense strategy. It is never productive to retaliate in kind. Watch these people carefully, understand their behavior, and anticipate their repeated use of these five deceitful traits. Turn the knowledge you gain to your advantage.

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