Understanding Your Manager

by Lex Grezlak, Founder

In my work, I've met lots of managers. One key insight I've gained is that when a manager asks for your thoughts or tries to get to know you on a personal level, it's not because they genuinely want to listen. Unfortunately, they often use friendly chats to get more control over you, just like a politician. I've learned that these casual talks don't always come from a real place of interest. Many times, the real reason is to get power and use it to their advantage.

Honest lies

When dealing with managers, honesty and dishonesty can sometimes blend together. Managers might try to redefine these concepts, creating a confusing environment where manipulation is marketed as honesty and caring.

One example from my own career was a manager who would call employees by nicknames, making it feel like we were all friends. But really, he was trying to get us to trust him more and reveal more information about stuff he could use to his own advantage.

Another instance involved a manager who would share sensitive details from his personal life. It initially came across as a genuine attempt to connect on a personal level, but it was actually trying to get us to share too much.

I've learned that some bosses pretend to be honest and caring, but they're really playing a game to get more power. They use this fake honesty to get personal info they can use later.

How to respond

You don't have to stay quiet. Act like you trust them and talk about safe topics. This can protect you, especially when talking to potential new managers. In one-on-one meetings, be careful. What you say can be used against you later, like in job references.

For example, if asked about a controversial company policy, you could reply with a neutral comment like "I can see why some people would have strong feelings about this policy." This way, you avoid taking a strong position that could be used against you, while still seeming engaged and cooperative.

Final thoughts

Understanding how to deal with managers can be tricky. But with the right approach, you can handle it well without changing who you are. It's about knowing how to work well in your company's environment.

More articles

Becoming a Frontend vs. Backend Developer

Want a lucrative career as a developer? Learn why backend development may be the better choice for you.

Read more

The Dark Side of Open Source

Free code feeds corporate greed, training you to accept no pay for your labor. Know your code's worth.

Read more