For Machiavelli-like people, the best way to deal with people is to flatter them and tell them exactly what they want to hear. Such a personality shows a deep emotional coldness combined with a cynical attitude and charisma. This makes them masters of manipulation and deception.
Anyone who has read Niccolo Machiavelli’s Prince will recognize these and many other such traits from this book. This 16th century philosopher and politician brought these traits to life. Machiavelli himself states that in a position of power it is acceptable to disregard virtues such as honesty if cheating and deception lead a person to their goal.
But people do not have to read about the Prince to feel (according to them) that the means are to be sanctified. They don’t even have to be involved in politics to use this strategy.
Machiavellianism is a fairly common personality trait and forms part of what clinical psychology calls the dark triangle. Here, psychopathy, narcissism, and Machiavellianism constitute a dangerous and disturbing type of personality.
However, it is easier to see these qualities separately in our daily lives, and Machiavellianism is the most common of them. We will deal with it better next.
Machiavelli-like people: have they been born, or have they been made?
Each of us at some point in our lives has deceived and manipulated something else to achieve our goals. However, this usually only happens once and often even for good reasons. Or it is part of a defense or survival mechanism. For example, like this, “I’m going to get that person to think like this so he leaves me alone and realizes I’m not interested in him.”
However, Machiavelli-like people think that using people to achieve their own goals is natural. Often they think that people who don’t do this are not smart. As psychologists Richard Christie and Florence Geis, the creators of the Machiavellian test MACH-IV, explain, such people think that “stupidity is born every minute, and that they must be put to good use.”
There is no shortage of people in politics who train themselves to use witty and calculated strategies to gain and maintain power, but in our daily lives we do not encounter so many people who use these strategies and who naturally see other people as tools for their own goals. Does this mean that machiveness is a genetic trait? Have Machiavellian people been born like this?
The expert says that in a few small and isolated cases, there is a genetic predisposition to psychopathy. However, Machiavellianism is the result of a poor upbringing in which the child imitates his parents.
What are the characteristics of Machiavellian people?
Who among us has not had a boss who always gets through his will and who exploits others for his personal interests? We may have seen this in romantic relationships or even in children who blackmail, threaten and mistreat their classmates.
The machivelli mentality leaves scars. Therefore, it is important to identify its main features:
- They are really adept at finding the weaknesses of others.
- They are good designers, and they dream of subtle strategies to manipulate people. In addition, they are adept at saying the right things at the right time and gaining the trust of others.
- They are ambitious and masters of managing their impulses to achieve maximum benefit. If the goal is worth it, they favor bigger and longer-term achievement, and they are also really patient.
- They are charismatic, and often they seem to be adorable and humble.
- They are useful for discussing and negotiating in a competitive work environment. But on a personal level, however, they do not have stable and lasting relationships.
How can Machiavellianism be treated?
The hardest part is that Machiavellian people don’t see any problem in their being. They see themselves as well-functioning individuals with a high capacity for achievement. This is the only thing that interests them. Their approach to life is utilitarianism and materialism. Because they don’t value emotions, they are rarely aware of how they affect others.
That is, in the few cases where such a person comes to the attention of a psychologist, it is usually due to pressure from the family or, more usually, a court decision. Such personalities are common among criminals, due to their tendency to deceive people.
In general, the most recommended strategy is cognitive behavioral therapy. It allows the patient to become (not always) aware of their own behavior. He can identify disturbed thoughts and feelings, and change them. Finally, he is able to develop amicable and polite behavior.
But still, only truly experienced professionals should treat Machivelli-like people. Only they are able to understand them intuitively and turn off their skillful tricks, hints and manipulations.