Manipulation has a negative connotation for most people. It either screams of shady dealings, or makes you think of that fake-nice coworker who always gets what he or she wants, leaving others behind them in the dust.
But it doesn’t have to be used for evil. Subtle manipulation can be a way to pull some strings without stooping to unsavory means, like angry-yelling. And for someone who’s conflict-averse, this is a good tool to get what you want — what you deserve — without being labeled as passive-aggressive, or just plain aggressive. Need proof? Look no further than Rachel, from Lifetime’s UnREAL. She uses these techniques to survive at her job and make sure the show is steeped in as much drama as possible.
When Rachel needs to get something done — and done quickly — she’s not afraid to stretch the truth. For example, knowing that single-mother contestant Mary was in an abusive relationship, she assures her that suitor Adam is a good guy who won’t hurt her. It’s a small lie, and easy to maintain if needed, even though it’s not 100% true.
Be careful, though. While lying can be useful, it may set you back if people can see through your game. Stick to small lies. You don’t want to be caught in a story that compounds on itself and leaves you fumbling to remember what, exactly, you said about your sick grandmother last Tuesday. For example, when contestant Anna asks Rachel if she can call someone after her dad dies, Rachel lies and says she doesn’t have her phone. It’s a small lie with a big purpose: to isolate Anna and ratchet up the drama. And Rachel doesn’t run the risk of being caught later.
If you can’t lie, you can always spin something to sound like it’ll be in the other person’s interest. In the first episode of UnREAL, we see Rachel tell contestant Brittany that the only way to come across as sane is to stay until the end of the episode and discuss her version of what happens. Brittany gets to tell her side of the story — or so she thinks — and Rachel has more time to needle a freak-out out of her.
There’s a lot to learn here. Obviously, people are more likely to do something for you if they can see how it helps them. Do you really need someone to contribute to a project, but they are dragging their feet? Show them how, in the long run, the project will make their job more efficient. Everyone wins, and you can feel good about yourself for helping someone out.
Rachel constantly butters up the contestants by calling them sweetie or sweetheart. This makes them trust her before she gets them to do what she wants — cause even more drama. She comes off looking like the good guy while still encouraging people to act like their worst selves.
Take note: If you want your coworker to do you a favor, compliment or charm them. People like being rewarded for competence for a reason — it makes them feel good. Want them to finish a job for you? Tell them they’re really good at completing that specific task. (And remember: Feel free to lie a little, if needed.) You’ll be spreading good will, so really, what’s the harm? Plus, boosting someone’s mood means they’ll be enthused and happy while completing the task.
In UnREAL, Rachel really wants contestant Brittany to lose her shit. She already knows that Brittany has been in and out of foster homes and has had a fairly wild lifestyle, so what does she do? Gets tipsy with her and calls herself a slut to get on Brittany’s level. That way, Brittany feels comfortable opening up a crack and asking about Adam.
If people see you as their peers — especially people who are below you on the totem pole, like employees — they’ll trust you. You’re way more likely to get things like favors, job offers, and promotions. If someone’s complaining about an issue at work, you can try sharing a personal anecdote about a time you made a mistake, so they see you as human. They’re empathizing with you, which means they’re primed to see things from your point of view, and help you out.
Right before the series premiere of UnREAL, the viewer learns that Rachel left because of an epic, on-set meltdown. Fed up with the show and her job, she wreaks havoc on the proposal and then drives away in a stolen car. Determined to get everything under control when she returns, she takes ownership of her emotions and keeps them hidden in order to get her job done for the new season of Everlasting.
In that vein, master your emotions instead of suppressing them. If you disagree with someone, don’t get angry and start arguing, as they’ll probably just come up with counterarguments. Plus, appearing calm and cool lets others know that you’re a rational person (or, at least, you appear that way). In short, they’re more likely to listen to you.
Manipulation doesn’t have to be used for nefarious ends. Often, it’s just a more effective way to get what you want. Watch Rachel put these methods to good (and sometimes evil) use during UnREAL’s second season — premiering June 6th at 10/9c on Lifetime — in order to make things go her way, aka the only way.
Nandita Raghuram is a Senior Writer at Studio@Gawker. She tweets here.