The world has all sorts of people in it. Some are like you, and most of them are not. From the group of people who are not like you, there are those who care about you, those who don’t, and then there are those who bear you ill will. The third type mostly consists of cunning people, and to better survive in the world you should learn how to deal with such cunning people.
How to deal with cunning people
Many times, you come across sly, cunning people who pose as friends and manipulate you to their advantage. This leaves you fuming and wishing that you could have been more careful in dealing with them. Here are some ways to deal with cunning people.
1. Toss the ball back into their court
Cunning people usually ask probing questions to get more insights into your personal life. The idea is to get some kind of valuable information that they can take advantage of and secondly, to find out negative aspects of your life, so that they can make you feel low by constant criticism. This particular trait is more or less used as a rule to satisfy their intense desire to win and feel superior.
To avoid victimization, turn their questions into counter questions and make them the subject of discussion. For instance, questions like “Why are you still single?” can be used against them by asking counter questions like “Are you married?” If the answer is negative, ask, “Why?” If not, ask, “For how long?” etc. In short, shift the focus from you to that person.
2. Be assertive
Do not allow a cunning person to play emotional games with you. If you appear naive, chances are that a sly person may ask for a favor citing how lucky he is to have you around in such a difficult situation and so on. You know that he is trying to make you work against your wishes. In such cases, be assertive. Keep refusing politely stating that you have other commitments. He may present continuous requests with different statements like “Please be around for just an hour or so.” followed by “I cannot rely on anyone else but you to do this” You have to show him that you are not changing your mind under any circumstances. In the end, he may show his disapproval or irritation, but this should not affect you. Rather, you must be happy that you fended off his attempt to manipulate you and emerged successful.
3. Change the subject
Be evasive when it comes to very personal questions like your monthly salary. Change the subject. Be modest and say something like “Oh it is enough to cover expenses every month.” Do not let your ego get the better of you. Such people are wise enough to gauge your monthly income by your lifestyle. You are merely avoiding their questions by being humble. It does not actually make you any less. If the person still insists on knowing the actual figure, follow step two mentioned earlier – Be assertive. Say the same thing in different ways like “Expenses are skyrocketing, I am glad I have a well-paid job that takes care of it.” This attitude will eventually put him off.
4. Portray your weaknesses well
For this, you must understand your weak traits. If you are self-conscious, naive or short-tempered, present yourself as being none of those. These are the most common traits which cunning people use to their advantage. Give them the impression that you cannot be emotionally blackmailed. Set strong boundaries which will deflect every attempt to manipulate you. Know that you cannot be trifled with and handle manipulative tactics on a war footing. Once they know that they cannot flare you up against others, control you or use you for their personal needs, they will inevitably give up.
5. Ignorance is bliss
Ignorance works best in the case of cunning people who go all out to bother you. Just ignore the person outright when you meet him. If he cannot be avoided, acknowledge his presence with a smile and go right ahead with your work without waiting for a conversation to begin. If a conversation does begin, feign ignorance in that subject and excuse yourself for some imaginary task that needs to be done. There is nothing better than constant ignorance to shoo away a cunning person. This will annoy him in the long run. He may even decide to find a new target.
Dealing with one cunning person is not an easy task. But what if you have to deal with a group of them? Under these circumstances, it might become very difficult for you to handle the situation. This happens usually in offices, and it is called as office politics.
How to deal with office politics
Some people stay away from office politics while others get way too much involved in it. However,if you want to achieve success, you have to follow a path which lies in between these two approaches. You just have to keep certain important things in your mind, some of which are discussed here.
1. Cultivate key relationships
If you want to survive in a corporate culture, you need to expand your horizon. Knowing only your boss and immediate colleagues is not sufficient these days. You even have to cultivate relationships with others such as people in finance, the IT guy, or the HR department. If you want to deal with office politics, you need to start looking beyond titles.
For instance, most of us believe that people working in HR have no power, however, youâ’ll be surprised by the fact that they are the key player in making of several important decisions on the level of promotions and layoffs. Besides, they are the one who can help you out in case you get in a conflict with someone in the office.
Similarly, people in finance are given the responsibility of managing long term budgets and therefore, they have actual knowledge of where the company is headed. You can also avoid potential conflicts by developing relationships outside your division. For example, you will not face any problem in anticipating the point of view of the people in the manufacturing end, in marketing, or in sales if you know them personally.
2. Rise above conflicts
Give your attention to only those conflicts which have work-related issue as their source. If the conflict is more of a personal nature than professional, it’s better to let it go. Another important thing regarding conflicts that should always be kept in mind is that you should avoid involving your boss in resolving disputes. However, if a condition arises where it becomes necessary to have a talk with your boss regarding some dispute with your colleague, avoid trash talking and try to be balanced and calm while defending yourself.
3. Don’t be a perfectionist
Never act as a person who wants perfection in everything happening in the workplace because this obviously means that you will start meddling with the tasks assigned to others. Instead, you should divert your concentration to the tasks which have been specifically assigned to you. Take interest in work of others only when you are asked to do so. You can end up being in the office politics hit list because of unwanted interference in the tasks of other employees.
4. Guard against idea theft
No matter how much immoral it may sound, it is a fact that your colleagues may steal your work and ideas. ‘Idea theft’ is another negative consequence of office politics. Just be careful while discussing important matters with your colleagues, especially with those whom you don’t trust. For instance, if you are working on any important project report, itâs better not to discuss the specific details with others. Some of your colleagues may steal your ideas and present it to the boss as their idea or even worse, they can attempt to sabotage your efforts.
5. Influence, not power
You will be considered to be powerful only if you have control over resources, hiring, and firing. However, you are not going to have much power in the early phases of your career. But, this does not stop you from being an influential person, you just need to be knowledgeable, trustworthy, competent, and dependable. But, these qualities should not be considered simply as virtues in yourself, instead think about them strategically as qualities which is important for advancing in career. In other words, you must be someone whose opinion is given importance.
6. Please the people who matter most
Performance and getting good results is not everything in corporate culture, especially when office politics enjoys such an influential role. You also need to satisfy the people who matter most. This may be hard for many people and may often require making tough choices, but these choices need to be made. Whenever a situation arises where you have to choose between your boss and your colleague, such as in case of a conflict between them, it’s always better to stand by the side of your boss, or you will never advance.
7. If you are a pawn, be a smart one
You are certainly not going to start your career as a leader, first, you need to be a follower, then only you can become a successful team leader. However, the path to being a leader will be much more comfortable if you act smartly while being a follower. Supporting the wrong candidate, proposal, person, or software platform can have serious consequences. So, if there are more than one candidate for the leadership position and you are asked which one would you like to work under, your reply should be a balanced one, such as I am comfortable in working under both of these people. Although you may like one of them more than the other one, but in workplace, it is always better to avoid putting your heart and mind at the same table.