Chapter 7

Dealing with the bluff stuff—handling emotional manipulation in the workplace

If, after the first twenty minutes, you don't know who the sucker at the table is, it's you.

David Levien and Brian Koppelman, insightful screenwriters

Just as there are in a good poker game, there are players in the workplace who have mastered the art of the bluff stuff. Their behaviours and the words they use are inconsistent, toxic, manipulative and undermining. Trying to spot the times when they are bluffing and when they are playing straight can be exhausting.

Emotional manipulation within the workplace is a hot topic. It is such a hot topic that it is the subject of numerous books that cover the issue in far greater depth than we will attempt in one chapter. But be certain that some of the toughest conversations you may face in the workplace may be the result of emotional manipulation at play.

Emotional manipulation at work has left a number of casualties in its wake, and some of the greatest casualties have been staff morale, employee engagement, productivity and customer satisfaction. It is critical, as with all tough situations, to address the bluff stuff. Any situation that results in you or others feeling intimidated or shamed at work is unacceptable.

To help you get your head around the bluff stuff, we will examine the two types of perpetrators of these behaviours, the behaviours they exhibit, your role as a manager in reinforcing versus shutting down these behaviours, and provide ...

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