Manipulation, Mind Games and Motivation – Leadership and Relationships

Screen Shot 2015-06-24 at 10.20.28 AMI have observed life for many years. With my life’s journey I have tried to simplify things as much as possible, without making things too simple. The reason for this simplification was so that the average person could understand the ideas and concepts I put forth.

My observation has noticed the following three components of human interaction namely Manipulation, Mind Games and Motivation. These I have found are present and relevant in not only our personal lives, but also our work and leadership lives. Let’s look at each of these in more detail.


Mention the word manipulation and suddenly everyone becomes negative. Most of our references to manipulation are negative ones. However as my good friend Dr. Steve Maraboli pointed out to me ‘life is about manipulation and everything we do is manipulation in one form or another!’ If we were to look at that as our partners asking us to do something and it was purely for their own selfish gain, we may see it as negative manipulation. If however our coach was pushing us to achieve what we had set out to do and we achieve it – we would probably see the manipulation as being positive.

At work if our bosses are manipulating us to perform and the company does better, the manipulation is either judged as negative or positive depending on whether the boss or everyone benefits from the manipulation.

Manipulation can therefore be viewed as everything that others do, to influence us to do something and it is not dependant on our choice.

Mind Games

Mind games are a largely conscious struggle for psychological one-upmanship and can be played in many ways. Simply put these games are played by each and everyone of us through the questions we ask daily. Because of our need to justify everything we do, we are constantly asking questions and observing to see how we fit into society. These questions are asked at a subconscious level to obtain the answers we desire and to find out the opinions of others to see if they either fit with our thinking or not.

When we date and meet our partners, we use these questions to see if they have similar interests to us. We use the questions to determine whether their outlook on life is one we can live with or not, these series of questions never stop and the way our partners respond to these questions become what either gives us security in the relationship or what causes us to feel the relationship is breaking down. The main reason for these mind games is to determine whether we can trust the other person or not.

In the work situation the mind games continue and it’s mainly to see if we can establish trust or whether we need to protect our backs. The conclusion of whether or not we can trust the people we work with and especially our bosses, often comes from the questions they ask us as opposed from the questions we ask them, The mind games happen with our answers and in the perception we create for ourselves, and the perceptions others create about us. These questions posed by the bosses will determine that we are either for them or against them. Many bosses automatically assume that the workers are against them, as they know themselves and although they don’t understand it, are actually narcissistic and selfish in their outlook – a typical management style that is found in many people who lack relational skills and have no desire to be a leader (these are the people who see leadership as a title) and have an inherent need to be served.

We all play mind games and leaders play a mind game so that they can fully understand the people in their team, their mind games look for the strengths of people as opposed to the managers who focus on the weaknesses of people. These mind games are played at the very beginning of the hiring process; managers hire people who they can easily manipulate – people who are weaker than them, which ultimately results in a weakening of the complete team. Leaders hire people who are stronger than them, resulting in a team of growing strength.

Similarly mind games are played in our relationships. When we see ourselves as complete we look for partners who are complete and who we can build a secure future with. If we see ourselves as insecure (regardless of whether we accept it or not) we will automatically chose a partner who is weaker than us, someone who will not challenge us and simply accept us as we are. Ultimately it’s the way we see ourselves that allow us to either thrive or simply survive.


Let’s begin this section by understanding that only we can motivate ourselves. For more information on how motivation actually works please refer to my article titled Leading with Empathy – ‘The Emotional Code’. This motivation is linked to how the manipulation was communicated and what we perceived the intention of the manipulation to be. Did we see it as something that was going to help us or is it something that the other person needs in order to achieve what they want. We base our decisions to motivate ourselves into action once we have assessed if we can derive a benefit from the manipulation and the answers we get from the mind games. It is not always about us, but the decision is always ours. We may decide to do a kind act for someone even though we know there is nothing in it for us. Our decision may be based on a sense of fulfilment that comes from doing things for others and not expecting something in return. This can give us a feeling of significance which is far greater than anything we can get or do for ourselves.

I hope that this article has helped you understand a little more about how Manipulation, Mind Games and Motivation work together and drive us to make the decisions we do. I would gladly welcome your comments.

Photo credit: dunkr / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

About RichSimmondsZA

Retired but still Disruptive
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2 Responses to Manipulation, Mind Games and Motivation – Leadership and Relationships

  1. the pain in the ass says:

    Wow, that hit me hard! I do go for weaker men….mentally, that is.
    I’ve never thought of manipulating and ways it presents itself…..probably because of the negative association! However, yes I manipulate especially in work to get things done, wow, good…next.


  2. Pingback: Top 20 of 500 Blog Posts | RichSimmonds

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