Have you ever had someone try to manipulate you?
Manipulative statements are so hard to refute.
Someone in power might try to take you down with:
“This will go on your PERMANENT record!”
There’s no such thing as your permanent record! Seriously.
“You need to show more PROFESSIONALISM.”
What the hell is professionalism anyway? A lie. It is always a bludgeon that people in power use to keep you in line. People will tell you to be more professional, but you’re not allowed to say that back. It’s like professionalism is code for “Don’t Argue With Me.” There’s no professionalism when they expect you to do three jobs for the price of one. That’s not professionalism. That’s abuse. And they do not show you the same courtesy when managing you. They often do not follow the employee handbook, or procedures. It seems that “professionalism” is really a one-way street.
Take it from me, if you swallow this “professionalism” bait, even when treated badly for months or years, there’s no reward at the end of the line for you.
Or, my favorite, “This will look good on your resume”
Volunteer for that 10 hour per week commitment, work 80 hours a week, take on MORE responsibilities because this will look good on your resume.
You know what never makes it onto your resume? When you had a 2 week long bout of acute sinusitis from overcommiting yourself and trying to please everyone.
Every time someone tells you something/accuses you of being something, instead of just passively accepting that you must be that thing, why not be like Wikipedia and say, “Citation Needed”?
Some manipulative statements you may hear from coworkers
For example, a co-worker telling you that you’re “dismissive” or “cold” or “uptight.” Yeah. Let’s address these one at a time. Uptight? The last guy who told me I was uptight was taking issue with the fact that I didn’t want to sleep with him. If that makes me uptight, I’m okay with that. Wikipedia needs 2-3 citations before an article is approved.
If you’re accused of being dismissive, maybe it’s that you have a job to be done, and don’t want to chat with coworkers every time they randomly stop by your corner of the open floor plan office. Perhaps, random chitchat does NOT help you get your work done!
If people say you’re cold, maybe they are talking about how you’d rather not discuss your personal life at work. Or perhaps that you are a strong leader, and that they’d prefer someone a little more like mommy.
We have to break the expectation of our gender as having an obligation to be nurturing, sweet, people-pleasing.
We have so much information coming at us every day. It’s hard to find sources of information that we trust. And people around us are often not the most reliable sources of information. They have their reasons for telling us what they tell us.
They want us to take on more of their work. They want to use us as free therapy-time. They want us to be less sure of ourselves, and more aware of their needs. Or maybe they just want to sleep with us. Don’t assume people around you really know what they’re talking about.
Questioning the Media
This can extend to the media that we consume as well. It’s kind of a all-purpose aphorism.
Another good example of having a citation needed moment is every time you read an article about women and marriage in the New York Times. Jack Shafer at Slate does a thorough job called the NYT out on its sloppy math. But of course, the prize goes to Amanda Hess who lists the most objectionable NYT gender essentialist trend topics, which always seem to be about women, and marriage, and how women are not getting married and having babies and what a tragedy it is.
As the Norwegians say, “Tink Selv!”
So ask this question.
“Why is what you just said true?”
Got a story of how you thought for yourself when people tried to manipulate you? Tell us in the comments!