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Coping with Manipulation Chaos

Updated: 5 days ago

A former boss had a special skill for strategically positioning himself to either take credit for good ideas or blame others for ideas that weren’t well received. 🤨

When he met with the leadership team, he would speak on behalf of the Board of Directors. When he met with the Board of Directors, he would speak on behalf of the leadership team. He was the only common denominator between the two groups. This was his way of controlling the narrative and the outcomes. 👎

I call this type of chaos creator a “Middle Man Manipulator.”

The Middle Man Manipulator causes chaos by creating a toxic environment characterized by emotional turmoil, broken trust, interpersonal conflict, undermined self-confidence, and disruptive decision-making.

👉 How do we know when we are dealing with a manipulator?

They are easy to spy by paying attention to their words and actions. 🔎

A manipulator might use phrases like:

  • You’re too sensitive.

  • You’re too detailed.

  • I was joking.

  • You misunderstood me.

  • You ask too many questions.

  • You’re overreacting!

Manipulative behaviors can occur in platonic, romantic, familial, and professional relationships and include actions a person uses to gain influence or control over someone else.

These behaviors can include:

  • Lying

  • Denying

  • Passive-aggressive behavior

  • The silent treatment

  • Criticizing (sometimes a form of verbal abuse)

  • Withholding information

  • Blaming

  • Making excuses

  • Rationalizing

  • Judgmental or criticizing

  • Guilt trips

📌 [Disclaimer – I am not a psychologist. If you are experiencing manipulation and feel powerless, seek help from an appropriate source i.e., human resources, therapist, or support group.]

A few coaching tips for coping with a manipulator.

✅ Express disagreement diplomatically by asking clarifying questions. This gives you time to process the situation before responding and their responses provide insight into their motivations.

Here are my top 5 go-to clarifying questions.

  1. Can you help me understand….?

  2. What motivated that [thought, action, language]?

  3. What makes you [say or think] that?

  4. Would you mind expanding on that thought for me, please?

  5. How do you think that would work?

✅ Ask for confirmation that they understood what you said. This effort confirms their understanding and prevents them from being able to say you didn’t say something later.

Here are my top 5 go-to confirmation questions:

  1. Are there any areas where you need further clarification or additional information?

  2. Do you agree with this course of action? If not, please share your specific concerns.

  3. Do you have any questions or concerns about what we've covered?

  4. Is there anything else you'd like to clarify or discuss?

  5. Let me play back what I heard…. Do I have that right?




Working with manipulators can be exhausting and challenging. Seek to understand by staying aware, setting boundaries, and maintaining distance when possible.

I’ve curated the best from my coaching practice, thought leadership and unique development programs to create something that takes the guesswork out of how to manage the chaos creators and the emotional chaos they incite - with kindness, confidence, and compassion.

Chaos Creator's Toolkit



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