"Tactics of Manipulation and Control" For Sexual Harassment

Posted on Jan 1, 2000  | Posted in

Sexual harassment permeates our culture.  Even the Centers For Disease Control has conducted extensive studies on the topic because it is pandemic, and does not seem to show any signs of slacking off. On the contrary, we are witnessing the meltdown of an ethos that has guided the American governmental, and business enterprises for generations.  Not that scandal of a sexual nature was not present in the business world, it was however, carefully hidden from public view.  The old system of hiding sexual harassment from the public has vanished.

The revelations of public and religious figures who have trampled upon the trust and integrity vouchsafed to them by the people through  irresponsible sexual behavior are almost daily events.  No one knows just how deep or far-reaching these sinister breaches of social mores may go. What is evident, however, is the fact that these events are reshaping the business landscape of the country.  It seems that the business community may require not only training in sexual harassment, but training in how to recognize the personality types that create the havoc of sexual harassment within a business community.

While there may not be a psychological milieu that can identify potential perpetrators of sexual harassment there are principles available to help recognize the "Tactics of Manipulation and Control" that create the environment of sexual harassment.  This information is also  for the timid or self-effacing types who submit to the tactic of the manipulator out of fear or intimidation.  (We also recognize that there are companies that pay victims of sexual harassment to keep quiet and not reveal the callow invasion of their persons by abusers). 

In a marvelous book entitled "In Sheep's Clothing:  Understanding and Dealing with Manipulative People" George K.Simon, Jr., Ph. D. offers very practical and sobering insight into the world of manipulators.  In particular chapter nine addresses the issue of how to recognize the tactics of manipulation and control.  This chapter was of great importance to me because after years of counseling persons who were sexually abused as children this chapter gives information that helps to create healthy boundaries when one has to deal with an individual who preys upon with weak personal boundaries. 

Simon's observes:  "Traditional models of human behavior and personality are not helpful when it comes to understanding the character disturbed individual...  All character-disordered individuals, especially aggressive personalities, use a variety of mental behaviors and interpersonal maneuvers to help ensure they get what they want.  The behaviors... enumerated in this chapter simultaneously accomplish several things that can lead to victimization...  It's not possible to list all the tactics a good manipulator is capable of using to hoodwink or gain advantage over others... However, a good manipulator will often throw so many of these at you at once that you might not realize how badly you've been manipulated until it's too late." 

Let's face it the business arena has become the playground of the manipulator intending to practice sexual harassment.  He is fiendishly clever and opportunistic.  He truly walks about in sheep's clothing waiting and lurking about for a personality type upon which to ply his craft.  The following are some of the tactics that Simon's cites as used by the manipulator. 
  • Minimization:  When using this maneuver, the aggressor is attempting to assert that his behavior isn't really as harmful or irresponsible as someone else may be claiming.   
  • Denial:  This "Who...Me?" tactic invites the victim to feel unjustified in confronting the aggressor about the inappropriateness of a behavior.  It's also the way the aggressor gives himself/herself permission to keep right on doing what they want to do.  
  • Diversion:  Manipulators use distraction and diversion techniques to keep the focus off their behavior, move us off-track, and keep themselves free to promote their self-serving hidden agendas.  Sometimes this can be very subtle.  

It is very important to become as astute a possible with the tactics of manipulators so as to avoid victimization in the business environment.  However, it is often difficult because a highly skilled tactician knows when he is up against an amateur who has some formal academic training in manipulative behavior but who is yet  not experientially qualified to competently negotiate his or her skill set in this dark area of human behavior. 

Remember sexual harassment is the abuse of power, and it is therefore important to have one's head in "the game."  Corporate training in the behavior of manipulative tactics and control may not yet be mandated for businesses, but it should be.  As we have become more aware of the intrinsic presence of sexual harassment in the corporate world so must it become equally important to educate the workforce in psychological self-defense. 

In my next submission I will explore more of the diabolic methods used by manipulators to disarm and defeat the unwary and unsuspecting individual who may or may not know that he or she has been targeted for manipulative advantage. "Sex In The Forbidden Zone" is no longer merely problematic it is a corporate pandemic disease that poses a grave and substantive threat to American business culture.

MVP Seminars provides sexual harassment training, coaching, and consultation for corporate and local government institutions who want their employees and management personnel to receive mandated sexual harassment training with uncompromising excellence.


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