How to Deal With Manipulative Co-workers. Neutralizing conflict can be more difficult in the workplace than in the outside world. However, there are rules in place to protect everyone--including those who are being manipulated by their co-workers.
Know the rules. Subtle manipulation in the work place is probably not against the rules, but you have to know what the rules are--it's the first part of your defense against manipulative co-workers.
Follow the rules. Once you know what are appropriate work place interactions, perform your job with this in mind. Trying to stop manipulators, while being one, is not going to help the problem.
Involve the management staff, especially when dealing with a manipulative co-worker who is a peer. Don't stand alone in defending yourself. Once the line is crossed, let your management team know what is happening. This may seem like "ratting out" a co-worker, but really it is building your defense.
Put on a good face. Smiles may not win them all over, but keeping a good disposition can help to difuse your reactions to a manipulative co-worker. It is important that you keep your cool while dealing with someone who is out for control.
Examine your role in the situation. If you are the type of person who is eager to please, and your work environment does not allow you the space to please everyone all the time, try to rein it in. Everyone wants to be liked, but you can't please them all. Focus on the things that you can do to deal with a manipulative co-worker instead of trying to change them.
Be assertive. When you are feeling bullied by anyone in the work place, stand your ground. Don't give in just because it is easier than taking up for yourself. Assertive people are harder to manipulate.