Emotional Manipulators: Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing

Emotional Manipulators: Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing

Beware of Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing

The Psychological literature identifies Personalities that are Manipulative, the “Wolves in Sheeps Clothing”.  These are people that use deceit in their dealings with those around them.  The Manipulator may be conscious of their manipulation, or unconscious and blind to their willful use of deceit.

The Arbinger Institute first brought to my attention the process of Self Deception in our minds when run by our Ego rather than the underlying Self.

Manipulative people will say some of the most unsettling things.  This inevitably begs the question:  Do they really believe what they’re saying?

“Manipulative people prey on our sensibilities, emotional sensitivity, and especially, our conscientiousness.  And sometimes they speak and act with such conviction, that we begin to believe them.  We can even start feeling responsible in some way for what we perceive to be their pain.” Dr George Simon

How to spot an Emotional Manipulator?  The simplest answer is “trust your gut, not their words”.  If your intuition tells you, ignore their words.  To improve your intuition, here is a list of 8 ways to spot Emotional Manipulation.

Beware of Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing.


Leadership = Do the Next Right Thing

Michael asks “What should you do when you don’t know what to do?”  In the times when he felt lost, out of his depth, uncertain, unsure whether he was the right person in the role…  All the great moments of self-doubt that I know I share…

His mentor’s answer?

“Do the next right thing.”

The full post at Michael Hyatt’s Intentional Leadership blog: “What to do when you don’t know what to do“.  I think it goes further than that.  This is not a recipe for rare moments of doubt.  This is a powerful framing of leadership.

There is a time for Managers, and a time for Leaders

When a team is winning, the captain needs to be a manager.  When the team is losing 3-1 at half time, the captain needs to be a leader.  Doing the same but better is going to lead to a 6-2 final score.  The team has to do something different.  This is when the captain must lead.

However, when leadership is made into something too big, action paralysis sets in.  Self-doubt assails the leader and leads to delay.  Leadership needs focus.

Leadership is “Do the Next Right Thing”

Do.  Action.  Leadership is about action.  Nothing changes without taking action.  Knowing what to do but not doing anything is the same as not knowing what to do.

The Next.  The professional knows where he is going, but never allows his mind to go beyond the next step.  He knows that this will lead to a feeling of overwhelm and the little voice inside his mind will tell him to stop.  It is only by keeping extreme focus on the Next that action is possible and sustainable.  The amateur takes on too big a goal.  He lives in a cycle of building frustration leading to a moment where he decides he will act.  He now sets a massive goal for himself and for a day or two manages to exert maximum effort towards this overly ambitious goal.  Three days later he realises how much work is still left and drops back into a depressed state and stops the action towards the goal.

Right.  What is necessary.  What is correct.  What fits with your values and effectively moves you in the direction of your overall goals. Not what others think you should do.  Not what you think others would expect of you.  Not what you parents want.  Not what your friends want.  It is what you feel is right.

Thing.  Specific.

Do. The Next.  Right.  Thing.

“I will act now.”

The great failures do not come from a lack of strategy, or a lack of knowledge about where you would like to get to.  Few people wake up in the morning with a goal of being unhappy and frustrated.
True failure is lack of disciplined action.  This is not the failure of not achieving a goal, not winning a game…  but the hideous failure of having left a life unlived.

“You only need 20 seconds of courage in a life”.  Where are my 20 seconds?  How many do I have left?

The importance of being Bored

I am terrible at being bored.

I fill my days with a constant stream of activities.

Three days ago, I was with my daughter on a beautiful Costa Brava beach.  We were on a journey to explore the ruins of an ancient 6BC Iberian town on the cliffs (located on the head of the peninsula in the photo below).

We sat for a moment on the rocks to see if we could see some fish or crabs.


I found my hand reaching for my smartphone.

Here I was in a beautiful place, exploring nature, speaking about the time of Egypt and Carthage and what the people who lived 8000 years ago must have been like – and some part of me wanted to check email, facebook, twitter, foursquare…


I run from being bored.  It requires more effort for me to just sit and think, than to read and respond to emails, create busy-ness.

Do you do “bored” well?  How?

Age is a Mind Thing: Breaking the glass ceiling

This is a guest post by Raul Cristian Aguirre.  Raul is founder and CEO of Tango/04, poet in the Argentine tradition and Goalkeeper for the Valvidrera Senglars.  He blogs at The Visibility Blog and you should follow him at @RaulCristian04.

Breaking the Glass Ceiling

Almost 20 years ago, towards the end of the summer, I was walking off the field after a hard fought game of soccer.  I am a goalkeeper.  I played a good game, and so did the other keeper.  We met as we reached the sidelines.  He shook my hand and congratulated me.  I smiled, and I told him that this was probably my last season.

“Why?” he asked.

“Well, I am getting kind of old, over 30 now”.

He frowned in disgust, severely disappointed by my answer. “What!*%$!?  I’m 42.  I am far from being too old to play!”

And man, did he have a point.

If I believe I can’t, it becomes true.

Elevador al Cielo

So today, I am again preparing for the start of our official league. I play with the Vallvidrera Senglars, my local team. I saved a penalty and was congratulated by my team for my performance—at the age of 47.  But more importantly, I loved every minute of it.

Years ago I almost made a big mistake. It was not my body saying I had to quit.  It was my mind.  I was thinking about what I “should” be doing, not listening to my heart.

The other day I came across Diana Nyad.  She attempted to swim from Cuba to the USA, more than 100 miles in open seas.  She was close to making the crossing, but an unexpected injury, an asthma attack and a very strong current made her stop after almost 30 hours of continuous effort.

That goal alone is remarkable, as no man or woman has ever accomplished it.   Even more remarkable is the fact that she attempted it at the age of 61—with a bad shoulder.

Her effort is inspiring to me.   Now I know that I can play official soccer for many years if I choose to.  My wife may balk at the idea, but it’s clear that it is possible. (And besides, she always balks at everything.)

Diana declared that her body may not be as good as thirty years ago, but her mind is far stronger. As we lose some power in the body, our amazing mind takes over.

You have to let your mind dream, and let your dreams take command. You can go wherever you want. It’s a matter of choice.

So remove those glass ceilings, and go for the gold. What’s the gold? Only you can answer this. You can try to be CIO if you are in IT. You can try to sit on the Board if you are already CIO. You can be the Chief Visibility Officer and make a difference. You can be another Steve Jobs and make a mark in the world. Outside the office, you can aim for the moon.

The pain of regret or the pain of discipline?

You may fail, but remember: Diana trained 12 hours per day. Whatever you aim to do, it’s gonna cost you. Be ready to pay the price, which amounts to nursing a never-ending desire for learning, hard work, and discipline.  It’s worth it: it will be your dream, and you’ll be awake to enjoy it.

The only thing you cannot try to be is goalkeeper for the Vallvidrera Senglars. That position is well covered, you know.

Read more from Raul at The Visibility Blog and you should follow him at @RaulCristian04.

What are you too old to do?

Success is Not about Willpower

Peter Shallard says that the currency of Human Potential is willpower.  Willpower is a finite asset.  It is like a budget that you can choose to spend as you like – but (unlike EU nations) this budget must balance.

I disagree.

No amount of willpower is strong enough to overcome our unconscious impulses.  No amount of willpower alone can create strong, healthy, disciplined habits in my life.

It is not about willpower.

It is about gaming your environment so that the decisions in the margins lead to the positive choices.

A diet succeeds or fails in the supermarket.  Once the chocolate is in my house, I will eventually eat it.

Design your Environment

If I put my running shoes on first thing in the morning, I am more likely to take the decision to run.

If I leave a pen and open notebook on my desk, I am more likely to note down ideas, tasks, people to thank, quotes.

If I leave my email program open, I am more likely to check it regularly.

If I leave my mobile next to my bed, I am more likely to check email first thing before I get out of bed.  (I saw somewhere that 65% of people with blackberries check email before getting out of bed).

If I leave the remote control next to where I sit on the sofa, I am more likely to switch on the TV “just to have a quick look at what is on…” why not put it further away and put a book where your remote lives now?

If I program my mum’s phone into my speed-dial, I am more likely to call my mum.

How do you game your environment?  Do you feel that you have no willpower?  Maybe you have an environment that encourages the wrong actions?

Chronic Partial Attention

In a recent article Tom Friedman of the New York Times ponders whether we have evolved from the Iron Age to the Industrial Age to the Information Age to the Age of Interruption, in which the “malady of modernity” is that we are now all afflicted with chronic multi-tasking and chronic partial attention induced by cell phones, email, the internet, handhelds, and our other many devices.

He wonders whether the Age of Interruption will lead to a decline of civilization as our ideas and attention spans shrink like slugs sprinkled with salt, and civilization at large gets collectively diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder. Friedman then asks “Who can think or write or innovate under such conditions?”

In contrast, Friedman describes his local rain forest guide who:

“carried no devices and did not suffer from continuous partial attention. Just the opposite. He heard every chirp, whistle, howl or crackle in the rain forest and would stop us in our tracks immediately and identify what bird, insect or animal it was. He also had incredible vision and never missed a spider’s web, or a butterfly, or a toucan, or a column of marching termites. He was totally disconnected from the Web, but totally in touch with the incredible web of life around him.”

Do we collectively suffer from Chronic Partial Attention?

I found an interesting academic paper on designing user interfaces in the age of Interruption here.

The 6 Moments of Power. Do you use them?

steenuilProfessor Robert Cialdini in his book “Influence: The Science of Persuasion” outlines six principles of ethical persuasion: reciprocity, scarcity, liking, authority, social proof, and commitment/consistency.

  1. Reciprocation – People tend to return a favor. Thus, the pervasiveness of free samples in marketing. In his conferences, Cialdini often uses the example of Ethiopia providing thousands of dollars in humanitarian aid to Mexico just after the 1985 earthquake, despite Ethiopia suffering from a crippling famine and civil war at the time. Ethiopia had been reciprocating for the diplomatic support Mexico provided when Italy invaded Ethiopia in 1937.
  2. Commitment and Consistency – If people commit, orally or in writing, to an idea or goal, they are more likely to honor that commitment. Even if the original incentive or motivation is removed after they have already agreed, they will continue to honor the agreement. For example, in car sales, suddenly raising the price at the last moment works because the buyer has already decided to buy. See cognitive dissonance.
  3. Social Proof – People will do things that they see other people are doing. For example, in one experiment, one or more confederates would look up into the sky; bystanders would then look up into the sky to see what they were seeing. At one point this experiment aborted, as so many people were looking up that they stopped traffic. See conformity, and the Asch conformity experiments.
  4. Authority – People will tend to obey authority figures, even if they are asked to perform objectionable acts. Cialdini cites incidents, such as the Milgram experiments in the early 1960s and the My Lai massacre.
  5. Liking – People are easily persuaded by other people that they like. Cialdini cites the marketing of Tupperware in what might now be called viral marketing. People were more likely to buy if they liked the person selling it to them. Some of the many biases favoring more attractive people are discussed. See physical attractiveness stereotype.
  6. Scarcity – Perceived scarcity will generate demand. For example, saying offers are available for a “limited time only” encourages sales.
Are you using your Power?
If your idea is scarce or has a limited window to act – do you tell your listener?  Do you help others out before asking for their help?  Do you look for hobbies or interests in common to establish a bond of liking before making your requests?  Is is good to use these moments of power?  Is it lazy to waste these moments as they naturally come up in your life?  What do you think?

2 nights of great football
Manchester United vs FC Barcelona…  My two favourite teams in the footballing world are through to the final of the Champions League…  it will be tough to decide where my heart lies 😉