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FRANK HAGENOW

Leadership Without Mind Games

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How to Win People
with Ethics and Decency

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External links were checked up to the time this book went to press. The publisher has no control over any changes made at a later date. The publisher therefore accepts no liability.

© 2021 GABAL Verlag GmbH, Offenbach

The e-book is based on the 2021 book title “Leadership Without Mind Games” by Frank Hagenow © 2021 GABAL Verlag GmbH, Offenbach.

Bibliographic information of the German National Library

The German National Library lists this publication in the Deutsche Nationalbibliografie; detailed bibliographic information is available on the Internet at http://dnb.d-nb.de.

ISBN Buchausgabe: 978-3-96739-057-5
ISBN epub: 978-3-96740-139-4

Copy editing: Audry Wagner-Morales, Königsbach-Stein (Germany)

Proofreading: Geraldine Ludbrook, Ph.D., Venice (Italy)

Cover design: Martin Zech Design, Bremen (Germany) | www.martinzech.de

Photo book cover: KsushaArt / Shutterstock

Author photos: Ingo Boelter, Hamburg (Germany) | www.ingoboelter.de Composition and layout: ZeroSoft, Timisoara; Das Herstellungsbüro, Hamburg

(Germany) | www.buch-herstellungsbuero.de

First published under the title “Führen ohne Psychotricks” in 2018

by GABAL Verlag, Germany

© 2021 Dr. Frank Hagenow

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping or by any information storage retrieval system without the written permission of the author.

www.frank-hagenow.com

Content

Welcome on Board: Let’s Lift Anchor

I. Whistling for the Wind–The Fascination of Mind Games and Psychological Tricks

1. Cheating is Welcome–Lies and Fraud Everywhere

2. All Hands on Deck: Wishing for Quick Solutions and the Least Resistance

3. When Appearance is Misleading: Psychological Tricks and Their Side Effects

4. When the Wind Changes: What Managers Can Learn From the Corona Crisis

II. The Dark Side of the Force–Psychological Tricks in Today’s Executive Offices

5. Getting off the Dock: Leading by Intuition

6. Disguising, Cheating, and Covering-Up

7. When the Ship is Sinking: Dilemmas and Paradoxes

8. More Difficult Than It Appears: The Trap of Easy Problem Solving

III. Leading Without Mind Games

9. With the Wind at Your Back: Into the Future with Ethics and Decency

10. Now Hiring: How to Win People Over Instead of Manipulating Them

11. Clearing the Decks: Your Basic Personal Equipment

12. A Guide on Board: Using Helpful Internal and External Input

IV. The Manager’s Toolbox for Your Command Bridge

13. A Compass For Ethics and Decency–How to Chart the Right Course

14. Wind In Your Sails: Communication as a Core Competence

15. Getting Through Stormy Seas: How to Stay Confident–Even When Things Get Rough

16. “Please Ram the Iceberg!” Why Sometimes the Opposite is True

And Finally: Have a Safe Journey on Your New Course

Applied Literature and References to Further Reading

The Author

Welcome on Board: Let’s Lift Anchor

Why another book about leadership? Bookshop shelves are already full of those. Does this guy Hagenow have to put in his two cents, too? Hasn’t everything been already said on this subject? One could answer with a quote from German comedian Karl Valentin (1882-1948): “Yes, everything has already been said… just not by everyone.”

The topic of leadership is very complex and subject to constant change. As a psychologist, business coach, and communication trainer, I find the human and interpersonal aspects of this topic particularly important. After all, it’s always people who must deal with each other in companies, often causing problems in the process. However, this book isn’t a plea for generalized democracy or a coddling management style. We live in a free market economy in which everyone’s success depends on how profitable a company is.

If you’re an executive, manager, board member, or entrepreneur, you have a high level of responsibility; you should be aware of the mind games, i.e. psychological tricks played at the executive level, as well as the pitfalls, mechanisms, and phenomena occurring there. In parts 1 to 3 of this book I will provide you with comprehensive background knowledge and basic psychology principles for your everyday management life. But I would like to go one step further and, in addition, provide you with some effective tools, tips, and checklists for practical application. In part four of this book you will find the “Manager’s Toolbox,” which will help you expand your skills for leadership on equal terms.

I am convinced that value-oriented leadership will give you and your company a strong competitive advantage. It will also make you less likely to be crushed between the millstones of the hierarchy. A management style that creates clarity, demonstrates competence and a sound judgment, treats employees with decency, and, above all, on equal terms, will help you achieve this. If you’re looking for long-term success and want to build trust and establish stable relationships, you have come to the right place. Welcome on board!

After all, managers are often like captains on their voyage through the depths of leadership. With their business steamers and their crew they set course for a corporate goal and often have to struggle with stormy weather along the way. That is why many examples and metaphors are borrowed from a nautical context because so many delightful parallels to leadership topics can be drawn and illustrated here.

When writing this book, I essentially limited myself to using the masculine form. I did so because, on the one hand, men still occupy more management positions than women, unfortunately! But above all, to make it easier for you to read and to avoid linguistic distractions. Nevertheless, female executives, managers, or employees are always expressly meant. After all, this is a universal, gender-neutral issue.

In this book, you will learn about the different ways in which you can encounter psychological trickery, the meaning and effects of these tricks, and how you can use the right approach to avoid them.

I wish you fair winds and following seas in your journey to leading with decency and without mind games.

Yours
Frank Hagenow

PART I:

Whistling for the Wind–The Fascination of Mind Games and Psychological Tricks

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To use the tips for dealing with mind games and leading without psychological tricks correctly, it’s important – in addition to some general background information – to know the professional environment in which psychological tricks are used. So, let’s focus on that in the following four chapters.

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1. Cheating is Welcome–Lies and Fraud Everywhere

What This Is All About:

Where the fascination for psychological tricks comes from and what makes us so susceptible to manipulation in the first place. Why we sometimes let ourselves be seduced so easily and, against our better judgment, ignore all the warning signals. Which well-known examples, as well as less common ones, can help us identify our personal thinking patterns.

The Psychological Trick–How it all began

In the very beginning, according to the Bible, God created Adam and Eve—and the Devil invented the psychological trick. You know the story: Adam and Eve are the first human beings created by God, and they initially have an utterly easygoing existence in Paradise, the Garden of Eden. But then the Snake persuades Eve to eat the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, despite God’s prohibition.

“Apple, anyone?”

“Oh, no, I’d rather not. We could get in trouble for this.”

“No one will notice.”

“But if someone gets wind of this, we’ll get kicked out of here for sure.”

“Oh, nothing much can happen.”

“Well, okay.” (She bites.)

“Ha-ha, gotcha!” (He sneaks away.)

Christianity speaks of the Fall of Man, and many painters, among them Michelangelo, Rubens, Lucas Cranach the Elder, or Albrecht Durer, have captured this key scene of the human genesis in their works. As a consequence of the rebellion, the Bible describes how Adam and Eve become aware of their nakedness and are ashamed of it. They then make clothes from fig leaves and try to hide from God. God confronts them, and Adam puts the blame on Eve, and Eve on the serpent. In the Christian tradition, the serpent is often referred to as the Devil. Adam and Eve are expelled from the Garden of Eden, and from then on they have to take their existence into their own hands, and so must all generations after that.

The incident with the apple represents, at least for Western culture, something like the beginning of seduction and manipulation. It’s the prototype of the psychological trick, if you will. Even back then, using tricks only provided a short-term prospect of success, and it ultimately left long-term negative consequences in its wake. Unfortunately, the desire for increased power through the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was discovered much faster than expected, and it led to a termination without notice for the first two managing directors of the Enterprise Humanity.

“Objection, Mr. Chairman, we’ve been set up.”

“Weak plea. Ever heard of free will and personal responsibility?”

“Yeah, but…”

“No way, it’s your fault. End of discussion. Objection overruled. So sorry.”

The ultimate consequence—dismissal. The expulsion of man from paradise.

If we follow the story a bit further, we realize that that’s when all the trouble really started. As if the expulsion wasn’t bad enough, there was a whole series of other inconveniences for the rest of humanity. The nudity that had been considered natural until then suddenly caused a shame unknown previously, and from then on it had to be covered. Also, the boss delegated the responsibility for the food procurement and the procreation departments to the employees forever.

Yet everything could have been so simple. Just imagine what we would have been spared if Eve had simply made a different decision at this significant juncture in the history of human development. What if she had shown a little more loyalty and compliance to her CEO, or paused for a moment just before this emotionally driven rush to action, and perhaps asked for a day to think things over?

“Thank you very much for the interesting offer, Mr. Serpent. I think I’ll sleep on it.” Perhaps she would have taken the opportunity to have an open conversation with her husband.

“Adam, you won’t believe what this shady salesman suggested to me today. Do you think I should go for it?”

And after careful consideration, weighing all the pros and cons, she would have probably decided against stealing the apple.

“No, I think I’d rather not.”

What a great show of character would it have been to resist that temptation! And how might the history of mankind have developed then! Maybe we would still be living in paradise today and would be at peace with nature and our self-esteem. We wouldn’t have to spend endless amounts of money on clothes, hairdressers, cellulite creams, or plastic surgery. How wonderful would it be not to have to worry about our livelihood! We would not be confronted with such burdensome questions as to what to wear today or which new car to choose when the leasing contract expires. Thank you very much, Mrs. Eve! We wouldn’t have to worry about psychological tricks and I wouldn’t be giving any lectures on this topic, wouldn’t have written this book, and you wouldn’t have been able to buy it… Well, yes. I guess that would somehow present some disadvantages. Anyway, enough of the wishful thinking. As you know, things turned out quite differently.

The foundation of our existence is trust. That’s why Mind Games hurt us so much.

Since the slightly unsuccessful start of the human enterprise, our reality is now generally such that we’re born into this world as infants. Just a moment ago we were inside Mom’s warm belly—this uterus paradise with a pleasant temperature where we were completely taken care of. In our amniotic sac of happiness, we didn’t need to worry about food supply or disposal and weren’t bothered by shady apple seducers. Unfortunately, at some point it got too tight for us in there and we had to see the light of day, even though we were not yet fully developed. Basically, we got thrown out of paradise again, even though this time we hadn’t even misbehaved in any way. Tenancy expired, move out required. Lights on! Let go! And…breathe! No sooner have we recovered from the strains of our move than we’re suddenly born into a completely strange environment. In this new environment, we’re confronted with the everyday hardships of our new existence and hopelessly overwhelmed. Previously unknown sensory impressions such as hunger, thirst, or digestive activities weigh on us—this must be quite a shock for such a tender child’s soul. There’s only one saving thing that helps to get by: trust. That is the very foundation of our existence even before we know what it is or how it is pronounced. In our vulnerability, we have no choice but to trust that we’ll be taken care of and that our needs will be met, even if at the moment we can only express them through inarticulate sounds. Otherwise, we’ll die.

Unlike other mammals, we’re not yet able to stand on our own feet and be nearly autonomous shortly after birth. To be fully developed we would have to spend about one more year in the womb before we’d be big enough and ready to walk upright. But not even the most self-sacrificing mother with the most flexible pelvis in the world has such capability. So, unfortunately, we must be born in the middle of our half-finished development process, because otherwise we would simply be too much of a heavyweight to arrive through the natural distribution channel. That’s why this early birth must be followed by an extensive phase of brood care, and even after that, we’re far from finished with our development. Instead, we must laboriously realize through socialization and schooling that we’re not the center of the world, and that we cannot simply take the shovel away from someone else in the sandbox.

Furthermore, we have to learn, with great effort, that we cannot have everything we’d like, and certainly not always on the spot. Our next developmental task is to understand that our wishes don’t always get fulfilled immediately, and that some goals can only be achieved after a long and laborious journey. The childish pleasure principle (I want everything, right now!) will be replaced by the reality principle if everything goes well for us. Sigmund Freud reported on this more than a hundred years ago. For this developmental phase, however, we need a good portion of confidence and the positive control conviction that we can achieve our goals with patience and determination. We have to realize that it may well make sense to postpone the short-term satisfaction of needs in favor of a later, even more attractive goal. It’s very helpful and positively reinforcing for us if we have already had one or two successful experiences with this strategy. Even the occasional failure will not necessarily take us off course. No, quite the contrary. Sometimes we’re even more encouraged by it because success is only experienced as such if it’s connected to a corresponding effort. However, we shouldn’t fail too often either because the positive reinforcing effect can otherwise turn into frustration and resignation. Or, as the former German Chancellor and Nobel Peace Prize winner Willy Brandt (1919-1992) put it: “Defeats strengthen us. But only if there aren’t too many!”

Therefore, trust plays a central role in our development process. Not only as newborns, but also along our entire development path. We have to trust, and want to trust, but at the same time are ambivalent about whether we can really do it. Even long after we have grown out of our childhood dependency, the question of whether our trust will be disappointed in the end remains. This continues to have an influence on us and on our self-esteem, even if it’s not as threatening to our existence later on as it was at the beginning. Humans are social beings. We’re interdependent and cannot survive on our own. That’s why we need trust, confidence, and those around us.

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So, it’s probably in the nature of man to want to believe in an (even) better future, or sometimes even in miracles. But this makes us very susceptible to all kinds of psychological tricks.

Perpetrators and Victims: The Secret Attraction of Psychological Tricks

Our fascination with psychological tricks has different aspects. First, there’s the part of the perpetrator—those who use mind games to increase their power, use other people for their own interests, or at worst, to keep them dependent and small. Having power over other people means being in a superior position, and that can really enhance one’s self-esteem. The susceptibility to psychological tricks has been with us throughout human history. For as long as humanity has existed, there have always been representatives of a species of people who try to gain an advantage with trickery and malice. They do it by cheating others—often less clever members of their own species—using more or less subtle methods depending on their own intelligence and that of their victims.

History is full of frauds against humanity. There was, for example, the mysterious traveling healer who would sell his “miracle elixir” against all kinds of diseases at medieval markets to the gullible villagers (an example of which is magnificently played by Borat actor, Sacha Baron Cohen, in the movie version of the musical “Sweeney Todd – The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” starring Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter). This healer is the predecessor of the shady used car salesman, and of the dubious vacuum cleaner distributor.

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The unknown, the promising and mysterious, the almost reachable, the forbidden—all of these things continue to exert their unbroken attraction on us to this day.

As human beings, this attraction makes us both extraordinary and vulnerable. It’s this openness to new things that, in a positive sense, has made us such a unique and extraordinary species, driven by never-ending curiosity, a pioneering spirit, and confidence. We strive to discover, question, and develop ourselves and our environment. At the beginning of their journey, many great inventors and pioneers had to have the courage to question what had been considered impossible until then. Many of the achievements of the digital age probably wouldn’t exist otherwise. Without doubts and visions, we would probably still believe the earth to be flat and the center of the universe. However, it plays into the hands of the tricksters that we also like to be seduced and believe what we want to believe.

In addition, it seems to be easier for us to believe something that is presented to us in a credible way by competent experts or those we consider as such. When a certain kind of authority comes into play, it seems to open the gateway to insanity. Only in retrospect do we find anything wrong with statements such as, “The Titanic is unsinkable, dear passengers. Don’t worry about the few lifeboats and that little bit of iceberg.”

At a press conference in East Berlin on June 15, 1961, Walter Ulbricht, Chairman of the State Council of the German Democratic Republic, announced, “No one has any intention of building a wall.” That was a blatant lie, because the construction of the Berlin Wall began only two months later. Or just think of the reports about Saddam Hussein’s alleged poison gas installations and weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, with which the Gulf War was stirred up in 2003, and which nobody found afterwards.

However, we’re not always just the poor victim taken in once again by the insidious intrusions of nasty manipulators. Often enough we’re perpetrators ourselves, trying to manipulate and trick others to gain an advantage. Maybe we even do this without being aware of it. The line between loosely interpreting certain statements in our own favor and committing serious fraud hoping that nobody will notice and that we’ll enjoy the forbidden fruit with impunity, can be very thin. Ultimately, it makes no difference whether we’re talking about the well-meaning interpretation of your own tax statement or the strategy of your lawyer in court.

People in leadership positions, however, not only have to take into account the wishes of the individual, but also keep an eye on the big picture while trying to meet every kind of requirement. For example, it would make no sense for a CEO to grant all his employees the understandable wish for a generous salary increase, and thereby endanger the company’s liquidity for medium-term investments because in the end, this could lead to having to get rid of everyone.

The Dream of Getting Lucky

Do you like to play the lottery? If you do, you’re in good company. Among the many different games of luck, this one is particularly popular. In my home country, Germany, for example, there is a lottery every week in which 6 numbers are drawn out of 49, plus a bonus number. The average jackpot is 17 million euros. Sounds tempting, doesn’t it? That’s why about 20 million out of the 83 million people in Germany participate in this lottery every week. In other countries the interest is likely to be comparably high. However, the chances of winning the lottery for a significant amount are dismally slim. They’re about 1:140 million (6 out of 49 with a bonus number). This means that there are about 140 million different combinations of these numbers and you would theoretically have to place 140 million different bets to be sure your numbers are drawn. In other words, you play your combination of bets against about 140 million other combinations of bets that have the same chance of getting drawn.

“Not impossible,” you might say, “after all, it happens almost every week to some lucky person.” That’s true. However, this lucky someone only wins the money that others have previously bet and lost. Did you know that only about 50 percent of the lottery revenue is actually distributed back to the winners? The other half drains into the state treasury and the operating companies. There’s another subtlety: you don’t know how much you will actually win even if you win the main prize. This depends, first of all, on how many people have actually played and paid into the lucky pot. And then it also depends on whether there are other lucky people besides yourself who have entered the same numbers. If you’re unlucky enough to have five others who hit the jackpot, the prize money will be divided among all of you. As you can see, the risk is entirely on your side.

This leads us to an important question: why do so many people fill out a lottery ticket every week? Especially since many of them, when asked, will tell you they don’t seriously expect to win big anyway. So, it doesn’t really seem to be about the real chance of winning, but about the belief in personal luck. In other words, with the lottery ticket we’re buying a building permit for our castles in the sky. It gives us the opportunity to dream beyond the limits and restrictions of everyday life and our own reality with relatively little effort. We quickly end up relating chance, which is actually neutral, to ourselves, and perceiving it as good or bad luck depending on the outcome. Just ask people around you what they would do if they won the lottery, and observe their reaction. Even diehard realists and declared lottery opponents who don’t play at all will suddenly start to formulate wishful dreams and imagine what their life could look like if they had a lot of money.

In this context, it’s interesting to look at real lottery winners. People who were actually blessed with a larger million-dollar prize were contacted again to find out what had become of them and their winnings. The result is as astonishing as it is sobering. Essentially, there were two different kinds of winners: the ones who lived with a certain, though not excessive, prosperity, while the others found themselves broke or even more in debt than before. Taking a closer look, it turned out that those in the first group had already been living a quite satisfactory life with their more modest means even before winning the lottery. With the other group it became apparent that they had already had considerable difficulties in dealing with money even before winning the lottery. Not even the unexpected money blessing had changed that. Instead, within a short time, they had spent the money on all kinds of spontaneous consumer’s dreams such as travel, cars, clothes, luxury articles, and parties. The bottom line seems to be that even an unexpected profit only has long-term advantages if it can be handled responsibly and with foresight. And this brings us full circle back to the skills you need for long-term success as a manager.

The Power of Habit

Statistical probabilities can show the extent to which our subjective perception and assessment of reality can play a trick on us. We feel that the longer an event has not occurred, the less likely it is to happen. The more often we’re confronted with an event, the faster it becomes normal for us. If, for example, you have been driving for 20 years and have never had a car accident, being accident-free will no longer be anything special to you. You will assume, almost as a matter of course, that you will reach your destination accident-free on your next journey. After all, things have been going well for a long time. You’re a good and experienced driver, and success somehow proves you right. Statistically speaking, however, the probability of an accident increases with every day that you don’t have an accident, precisely because it has been going well for so long. At some point, however, an accident is statistically due. Nevertheless, the accident-free reality suggests a deceptive security to us, it gives us the impression that we can’t be hurt. And yet, you probably wouldn’t stop wearing your seatbelt while driving just because you haven’t needed it so far.

In the reality of our lives, we’re constantly confronted with events that, although they statistically speaking occur as rarely as winning the lottery, still fill us with great concern. These include such unpleasant events as being struck by lightning, or hit by a falling brick or a tree. Perhaps we also fear that we will be victims of a terrorist or a shark attack. A plane crash may also be at the top of the list of things we can do without. However, as you may know, the greatest danger of being injured during air travel is having a car accident on the way to the airport. Nevertheless, we estimate the perceived risk to be much higher than it would be appropriate given its statistical probability. This is certainly also due to the media coverage when such a rare event does occur. A plane crash is given excessive presence and importance on the news, while the many inconspicuous, safe flights that go according to plan are not worth a single report. If nothing happens, there is simply nothing to report.

Small, mean, and hardly noticeable psychological tricks are lurking everywhere.

We can see psychological tricks and manipulations in our everyday life because we face them everywhere. Strictly speaking, every supermarket uses psychological tricks to make more sales. The aim is to keep you in the store as long as possible, lull you into a pleasant emotional state, and then provide you with a special shopping experience.

A lot is done to make you feel comfortable and ready to spend your money. The oversized shopping cart suggests to you: “There’s almost nothing in here yet. Are you sure you already have everything?” Large packages are cheaper than smaller quantities and invite you to buy in bulk. Lively music creates positive emotions. In some stores even the floor tiles are selected so that their texture gives the impression of a wet floor. Why is that? They’re quite simply hoping that you will be more careful when walking on a supposedly wet floor because you’re worried about slipping. So you walk more slowly and that way stay in the supermarket longer. This equals more time available for shopping and spending money. You’ll probably say: “I’m not going to fall for these dumb tricks. I have a grocery list, and I don’t shop impulsively when I’m hungry.” And that is why the next time you go grocery shopping you should check whether you have really bought only the things you wanted to. Maybe you have already taken one or two bargains that you didn’t even know you could use at all. Or perhaps you have only bought a larger quantity than you originally intended because the much cheaper packaging or the reduced price of a special offer (“Take three, pay two”) convinced you after all.

Many such swindles are now widespread and have become normalized in society. We have come to suspect, or indeed expect, nothing more than a scam behind many enquiries and offers. Just like with the much-loved, but often illegal advertising calls from marketing companies. The honey-sweet, purring voice and the enthusiastic excessiveness of the caller alone makes us go into inner alert mode as we wait for the big moment when she’ll finally let the cat out of the bag and tell us what she really wants to sell us.

Or just think of the many promises politicians make before an election. Hardly any of us really believe that these pompous promises can or should actually be implemented to a T later on. And here in Germany everyone knows the ritual when the results become available on election night, and the top politicians of the parties involved gather in a television studio to interpret the probable election outcome after the first prognoses have been made. There are always only winners then. Even the candidate with the highest losses can still find some feeble comparison in the back corner of his argument archive with which he can salvage something positive from the embarrassing defeat. And therein lies the trick – you only have to find an even worse result that you can then use as comparison: Voilà! This works in a similar way in other areas. For example, when the “charming studio for unconventional start-ups,” pompously advertised on the real estate broker’s listing turns out to be a lavatory with cooking facilities or a broom closet with a view of the courtyard.

“Everyone does that” is a popular argument for the numerous examples of unethical behavior in business, sports, and politics. Sometimes we also use it to justify our own actions to ourselves or others, because it seems less morally and ethically questionable for us to do something that others also practice.

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Unfortunately, this means that the smaller and larger instances of fraud in our everyday life and against our value system end up gaining social acceptance by force of habit.

2.All hands on deck: Wishing for Quick Solutions and The Least Resistance

What This Is All About:

The contexts in which mind games are used in companies and what secret hopes we associate with them. Also, what you as a manager should consider when dealing with conflict.

The Needs Behind the (Hidden) Desire for Psychological Tricks

I often receive requests from people in companies who want support in difficult situations. This often involves inner conflicts that managers have, or find themselves in with other people. However, these inquiries are hardly ever about factual issues or the organization of distribution channels, but mostly about human and interpersonal issues. It’s no wonder. I am a psychologist after all, and you only call the fire brigade when there’s a fire, not when the copy machine is broken. In some cases people openly ask me about psychological tricks, but sometimes they’ll beat around the bush a bit. “Considering your background knowledge and experience, could you perhaps give us some ‘helpful tools’ with which we can quickly get the problem back under control?” As if there was a secret psychological miracle cure you can just grab and use it to sweep away the current conflicts. I can understand this wish very well. There is a problem that drives you to despair and you can’t get a grip on it with the resources you have onboard, so you just want to make it disappear.

In the end, however, the result usually turns out to be something quite different from what the person asking for information originally imagined. The request for a communication training may then become one on conflict resolution where the entire department participates, or an individual coaching for the manager. What is needed to solve the problem only becomes clear in the process of taking a closer look together.

What might be the needs and secret hopes connected to the (hidden) desire for psychological tricks? And why look for this kind of mind games at all? The first answer to this question is relatively simple–because they often work. At least they do so once or for a short time, and in many situations where the goal is to obtain quick results, that’s enough: closing the month in the black, presenting a successful annual financial statement, satisfying the board of directors immediately, calming down the exhausting employee for the time being. It could be winning the next election, getting the better job, etc. In other words, averting the threatening fiasco for the moment. So a lot can be achieved by using a psychological trick. We can always think about a long-term solution later. The main thing is putting the issue to bed. At least for now.

However, the basic motivation for using mind games can be very different.