Like a dog pissing on a lamp-post, she marked out her territory from day one.
There is a woman in my office who could charm the birds out of the trees. Or in plain English, who is a manipulative so and so. I can’t believe it’s taken this long to see it. And to see how we have all been played. Presumably that is why I am writing a blog at three in the morning.
This person, let’s call her Jan is something of the office matriarch. She joined our team on a fixed-term contract to work on a specific project. We paid through the nose to get her. In fact, the salary we ended up paying was a very early indicator of how she operated. We paid well above the market rate and she’s been leading us around by the nose ever since. One nil to her before she had even set foot in the place.
Her persona (whether real or exaggerated I couldn’t really say) is one of a relentlessly charming, saccharine-sweet individual. Who oozes amiability and seems to be on an endless campaign to flatter and woo – almost like a seduction. It’s very difficult to say ‘no’ to an individual who is charming the pants off me, you, everybody. That is her strategy. It works brilliantly. She always gets what she wants. This is how she manipulates. People feel unable to say no and if you do say no then she makes you feel guilty or bad about yourself.
And despite the fact that she is an older, very average-looking woman, men are putty in her hands. She simpers and chortles like a pubescent school-girl and has them eating out of her hand. They are powerless in the face of it. She can get from them, whatever she wants, even when they try to resist. They end up doing the opposite of what they intended but exactly what she intended. The giggling and flirting on the phone to men of all ages in order to get them to do what she wants have been nauseating to witness. She is not charismatic, but she is a highly skilled manipulator. I’ve only come across one similar person in my professional career and she operated in a very similar manner.
‘Keep your friends close and your enemies closer’ is the maxim by which she lives and breathes. I know I was categorised as foe rather than friend early on and that obviously made me a target for the overbearing charm-offensive. And so it started. The invitations to lunch and coffee to get me on-side. The girlish cajoling and requests. The seeking of my opinion, the gushing thank yous for fairly innocuous tasks. To some degree it worked because it was simpler to cooperate with her then to keep resisting. So I too became trapped in her web.
On her first day in the job, she asked me to set up a meeting for the team and had prepared notes and her vision of what we should all be doing. Super-confident. Like a dog pissing on a lamp-post, she marked out her territory from day one. An alpha-male psyche in grandma’s clothing.
And it has dawned on me recently that she is always fishing for information. She likes to know what is going on and who is having what meetings and where people are all the time. She gets to the office at 7am. I have often wondered if it is so she can snoop on everyone and poke around in their in-trays. I would think so. Knowledge is power and power is what it’s all about for this individual so she can maintain the upper-hand.
I feel like Rapunzel who has woken up from a 100 year sleep. Now I understand what she’s been doing, I can start putting up road-blocks and putting in place a few strategies of my own.
What about you? Any good tips you could chuck my way?