What is Manipulative Insincerity?

Manipulative Insincerity® is what happens when you neither Care Personally nor Challenge Directly. It’s praise that is non-specific and insincere or criticism that is neither clear nor kind. It’s the kind of backstabbing, political, passive-aggressive behavior that might be fun to tell stories about but makes for a toxic workplace, ruining relationships and ruining work.

Manipulative Insincerity is the opposite of Radical Candor. It’s when you give praise that is insincere or criticism that is unclear and unkind, not because you genuinely believe it, but because you have some other motive or agenda.

Maybe you’re too tired to have a tough conversation, or you’re more focused on being liked than giving honest feedback. Whatever the reason, Manipulative Insincerity is a toxic behavior that ruins relationships and creates a dysfunctional work environment.


Manipulative Insincerity Examples
  1. Using humor/jokes as an excuse: Making jokes or sarcastic comments that are insensitive or hurtful, and then claiming it was “just a joke” when called out.
  2. Playing the victim: Deflecting accountability by claiming you are being mistreated or victimized when receiving radically candid feedback from others.
  3. Gaslighting: Denying or dismissing someone’s valid feelings/reactions in order to manipulate them into questioning their own reality/perception.

The core of manipulative insincerity is lacking the courage and care to honestly challenge someone while showing you care about them as a person. It is hiding behind surface-level niceties while harboring hidden motives.

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