Machiavellianism: signs and coping strategies

A Machiavellian personality can be characterized by merciless deception or manipulation of others to further one’s own agenda. When someone is no longer useful to them, they could treat them like inanimate things that they can utilize to achieve their goals.

This article explains the Machiavellian personality, looks at telltale characteristics of a Machiavellian personality, and offers some coping mechanisms for dealing with Machiavellian individuals in your life.

What is Machiavellianism?

Machiavellianism is a psychological characteristic marked by lying, manipulation, excessive self-interest, and a propensity to view other people as tools rather than as human beings. Known by some psychologists as “high-Machs,” people who exhibit particularly high degrees of Machiavellianism lack empathy and have a cynical, emotionless perspective on the world. Their main concerns are power and status, and they will stop at nothing to get what they want.

Machiavellianism: signs and coping strategies

The characteristic bears Niccolò Machiavelli’s name, a 16th-century political philosopher and writer who contended in books like as The Prince that monarchs and other rulers ought to take all necessary measures to obtain and hold onto power. According to certain data, those with high Machiavellian values are more prone to choose powerful professions like law or politics. Machiavellianism is one of the three negative and closely linked personality qualities that comprise the “dark triad,” along with narcissism and psychopathy.

What makes someone’s Machiavellian

The 1960s saw the development of the Machiavellian characteristic by psychologists Richard Christie and Florence Geis. Based on the model they created and further studies on the characteristic, an individual with a high degree of Machiavellianism is probably going to:

  • Believe that their own objectives and interests come before those of others.
  • Give power, position, fame, and/or money a lot of weight
  • Be prepared to deceive, manipulate, or take advantage of others for personal benefit;
  • Have a pessimistic, cynical perspective on the world and the motivations of others
  • Lack empathy for other people;
  • show little emotion;
  • and feel largely cut off from their own emotions

A person with a high Machiavellian level will typically avoid intimate interpersonal bonds because they see them through a distrusting, negative lens that makes them less fulfilling, even though they are often self-assured in social circumstances and charming when called upon.

Signs that someone is manipulative.

In addition to a plethora of unique qualities, Machiavellians typically exhibit the following features and behaviors:

1. Manipulation

Machiavellianism: signs and coping strategies

To gain favor, Machiavellians use deceit, fraud, and flattery. They can read individuals and play on their weaknesses or phobias, making them strategic long-term planners. According to McIntosh, they will stray from the law, con people, and be empathetic in order to win favors. They may initially come across as pleasant before turning to more aggressive strategies like bullying. In general, they are morally bankrupt and will stop at nothing to achieve their goals. (For what is worth, this is how to spot manipulation.)

2. Self-interest

Machiavellians are naturally cynical and do not readily trust others since they feel that everyone is only thinking about themselves. As a result, they do not establish deep relationships. To them, power and wealth are more important than interpersonal ties. They are capable of extreme disloyalty because of their will to break social agreements and trusting relationships. Their ability to detach themselves from attention is another characteristic that sets them apart from the other two Dark Triad kinds, narcissists and psychopaths.

3. Lies

Machiavellians recognize the value of information. They frequently withhold information from others unless doing so will benefit them. They have the ability to manipulate seemingly harmless material and are quite skilled at removing context from sources.

4. Indifferent

Machiavellians are insensitive and callous. They are typically unable of identifying their own feelings or those of others, which contributes to their extreme willingness to do whatever they believe is required to accomplish their objectives, even at the expense of other people. Previous studies have revealed that Machiavellians may be highly skilled manipulators, but they may also lack emotional intelligence.

5. Determination

Machiavellians have great objectives, and in order to fulfill those goals, they will resort to coercion and manipulation. These personality types form abusive and distant managers, with the abuse becoming more common while in a perceived position of authority at work, according to a 2016 study assessing Machiavellianism among supervisors. The researchers speculate that the Machiavellian’s ingrained behavioral predispositions, emotions, and beliefs may be amplified by power.

6. Competition

Machiavellianism: signs and coping strategies

Because they are fiercely competitive, Machiavellians see everyone as an enemy. When it serves their interests, they are prepared to step aside or work as a team. Machiavellians can transition between cooperative and competitive strategies and are aware of the power dynamics in social situations.

Dealing with Machiavellians: A Guide

There are several strategies for handling Machiavellians as well as some actions to stay away from. There are a few strategies to cope with Machiavellians based on the empirical literature on their behaviors and traits (e.g., Furnham, Richards, & Paulhus, 2013).

How to deal with Machiavellians:

Take care of yourself

Machiavellians can be harmful and take advantage of their coworkers’ kindness by employing a combination of gentle and harsh strategies, such bullying and seduction. This type of behavior may be detrimental to one’s psychological health. Therefore, it’s critical to establish boundaries and think about consulting a clinician who can assist in lowering stress and anxiety associated with managing a Machiavellian.

Recognize your limitations.

Given that Machiavellianism is a personality characteristic (Furnham et al., 2013), it’s critical to acknowledge that you are unable to alter the individual. Personality qualities tend to remain consistent in different contexts. Machiavellians will take advantage of people when they see an opportunity to do so, if the circumstances permit it. Consequently, because it has the potential to intensify a Machiavellian’s destructive behavior, the environment must be taken into account. Reducing the number of times you interact with a Machiavellian is recommended.

Practice self-compassion.

Machiavellianism: signs and coping strategies

Kindhearted and thoughtful people are often the targets of Machiavellians. When disclosing their own problems, they will try to elicit empathy from this kind of individual. This may put you in a vulnerable situation and lead to exploitation. It’s crucial to practice self-compassion and connect with encouraging people rather than disparaging yourself.

Depend on reliable coworkers

It’s critical to have conversations with trusted coworkers in order to escape the Machiavellian clutches. Since they are not involved in the poisonous connection, a colleague can offer unbiased advice and assist you in leaving the circumstance. A reliable associate will present the facts and assist in navigating the emotional strain of the unhealthy partnership.

Adopt a mastery mentality.

The desire for victory drives Machiavellians, so it’s critical that you maintain your concentration on your professional objectives and resist falling for their deceptive tactics. Engaging in mastery mindset strategies—which prioritize achieving goals and doing well than trying to outsmart the Machiavellian—is the greatest approach to accomplish this.

Take note of a Machiavellian’s behavior.

Machiavellianism: signs and coping strategies

In an attempt to gain your trust, Machiavellians will use false promises to trick you. They frequently employ this tactic to further their own objectives. It is crucial to follow your gut and pay more attention to what Machiavellians do than what they say. Many of the behaviors that Machiavellians exhibit are obvious indicators of their unethical standards (Den Hartog & Belschak, 2012).

Concentrate on talks about work.

Speaking with a Machiavellian requires covering issues related to their line of employment. If you talk to a Machiavellian about your personal life, they could take advantage of you for personal gain. It is crucial to keep in mind that they are not a reliable confidant.

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