Is Machiavellianism similar to Narcissism? What is machiavellianism? What are the characteristics of an individual who has Machiavellianism? People who possess Machiavellian personalities tend to have an exploitative attitude and manipulative behaviors towards others. 

Continue with this article and find out how Machiavellianism is recognized. Learn the different coping techniques that you can try if you think you have or know someone with this type of personality. Reading about different types of dark personality traits, such as this, can increase your knowledge of personality disorders and can even help you save interpersonal relationships.

Where Did Machiavellian Traits Come From?

The word “Machiavellian” was coined after a masterpiece of a famous author, philosopher, and political advisor from the 16th century, Niccolo Machiavelli. He wrote the manifesto entitled “The Prince”, a public declaration that emphasizes wickedness, deception, and political morality. The Prince shared the author’s view on how survival and glory were justified by any means.

Machiavellianism is a concept that became a topic of interest in the field of dark personality traits. It started as a political theory that supports strategies used to maintain political power. It is defined as a type of personality trait that denotes the ability of an individual to deceive, manipulate and exploit others by using any means necessary to achieve leadership positions.

In psychology, Machiavellian completes the “dark triad” of personality traits together with Narcissism and Psychopathy. These traits are called dark due to their malevolent qualities. Dark triad traits are damaging and should be met with vigilance.

Co-workers and leaders who are high in Machiavellianism tend to have negative effects on others and their organizations. These individuals focus more on power and competition with little regard to ethical standards and morality. That is why it is very important to understand how Machiavellian personality works and the strategies to cope with it.

How Machiavellianism Affects Leaders?

What if we are under the leadership of a Machiavellian, and we have no idea how to deal with them? This type of leadership trait can be present in every organization, and we mostly oversee them. These leaders tend to manipulate and lie to pursue their goals. They use strategies to gain prestige and power to boost up self-worth.

Studies were made that clarified Machiavellian personalities as hostile and toxic. Those leaders regard other staff members as an object of emotional manipulation. This is a trait that denotes an agreeable yet self-focused and ruthless individual.

They master impression management skills to influence others to maximize opportunities for personal power—leaders who lack empathy and ethical conviction, using fear and retaliation as tools to control the organization.

Dark Triad Personality Traits

The dark triad refers to a combination of negative personalities that share common hostile features. These personalities are Narcissism, Machiavellianism, and Psychopathy. Individuals who possess one of these dark personalities tend to be manipulative and callous. This means they are willing to do anything for personal benefit and disregard people’s feelings.

With a cynical view of morality, they are often shameless in exploiting others in maintaining power. They are most likely impulsive and could even engage in risky behaviors such as committing crimes with empathy deficits.

The only thing that separates the three traits is their focus. Machiavellianism focuses on manipulation and their own goals. Narcissism is mostly about getting special treatments and their own needs. And While psychopathy focuses more on being insensitive and cold to other people’s feelings.

Are people with this personality trait dangerous? These traits are sometimes left unrecognized because people who know them are usually charming and engaging. They know how to make people feel important and wanted. They are known as “Masters of Flattery”. But these people can not sustain their deceit forever.

Recognizing Machiavellian Personality

Do you know someone who has Machiavellian traits? These are people who try to control everyone using ruthless tactics such as embarrassment to gain success. Individuals who take responsibility for the group’s accomplishment and blame everyone if it fails. 

Uses intimation and manipulation to feed their psychological need for adoration and superiority. Do the descriptions start to sound familiar? There are different ways to identify Machiavellians. The primary way to recognize Machiavellian personality is by using a tool called Mach IV Test.

Mach IV Test

In 1960, social psychologists Richard Christie and Florence Geis started collecting statements from Machiavelli’s creations and conducted studies on how people agreed with them. Their research concluded that Machiavellian personality is a distinct trait. Then they developed the Mach IV Test to support their conclusions.

Mach IV scale is a 20-item, 3-dimensional self-report measure of Machiavellian personality traits. The scores can range from 20-100, 20 as the least Machiavellian and 100 as the most Machiavellian. Those who scored 60 and above are the “High Machs”, while those who scored 60 and below are considered as “Low Machs”.

Those who got a higher score are more likely to be manipulative, ruthless, and lacks empathy.

Other Ways to Recognize Machiavellianism

We already know that a Machiavellian has an apparent emotional intelligence deficit. They cannot recognize empathy and emotional recognition. But these deficits could also suggest other personal traits. Here are some other characteristics that ascertain Machiavellianism from other personality disorders.

Obsession with Power

One of the hallmarks of Machiavellianism is how carelessly they can abandon an ally for their selfish reasons. The only thing that matters to them is how they can gain power, praise, and glory. They are willing to do anything that includes making someone feel guilty without caring about rules and morals.

Inconsistent Success with Manipulation

Not all Machiavellian are good with manipulation. Others plot their way to success. Strategic planning is part of human nature. They do not rely on manipulation alone but does also use harsh management tactics.

They feed off people’s fears and use them to gain leverage. They are unable to maintain proper emotional attachments and romantic relationships. They use people so much and make a lot of enemies during the process.

Detached from Situations

Machiavellians can not show a full range of emotions. They sometimes appear detached from a situation. Sometimes, when an event is stressful, normal individuals would show a negative effect, a Machiavellian finds pleasure in seeing people get embarrassed and watches as the negative event unfurl.

What They Think VS What They Do

People with this type of personality trait often spend too much time thinking and formulating strategies. They spend little time doing things that could make them successful. Unlike a narcissist who demands attention and a psychopath who gets violent, Machiavellian spend their time planning and plotting tactics in their head.

At first, people with dark personalities would act trustworthy and friendly. Then later use hard tactics to obtain their goals as self-disclosure and attempt someone to feel guilty.

Performs Well in a Competitive Environment

Leaders with this type of personality, especially with higher ranks, also possess narcissistic tendencies and hate to accept errors and failures. They tend to create and survive in an environment that supports their view of power and deception.

They try to use soft tactics to achieve trust and commitment. But later lose favors when their colleagues start to detect the inauthenticity and inconsistency of their actions.

They Use Certain Strategic Behaviors

Studies that focus on dark triad personalities identified strategic behaviors that a Machiavellian have. Unlike narcissism, they do not aim to be the center of attention. Instead, they want to be more of a puppeteer who controls everyone.

They withhold important information about their colleagues and refuse to be influenced by others. They entice others to engage in risky behavior and co-workers into romantic relationships to reach their goals in the workplace.

How To Deal With People Who Has Machiavellian Personality Trait

Each of us has our own light and dark sides. Balancing both of these sides is crucial for our psychological well-being. Machiavellian individuals have certain dark sides that we need to avoid and deal with. Wo do we deal with people who have these dark personality traits?

Self Care Awareness

Individuals who score high on the Machiavellians scale are naturally destructive and tend to abuse and victimize a colleague’s good nature through hard and soft tactics. This type of technique can affect a person’s mental and psychological well-being. We must know how to build our walls and set boundaries for these types of people. Talking to a professional mental health adviser could help you reduce the stress levels and anxiety of dealing with a Machiavellian.

Accept and Know Your Limitations

Having a Machiavellian in your life can be both exhausting and overwhelming. You must understand that you can not change their personalities. These types of personality traits can be tweaked, but you should know that they will still try to find opportunities to manipulate if the situation would allow it. The best way to avoid them is to limit your communication of interactions with them.

Manage Your Vulnerabilities

If a Machiavellian has already deceived you twice, know that this trait has no emotional deficits and would not even bat an eye on how you feel. Their lack of conscience may trigger your tendency to self-blame and be vulnerable, giving them a chance to manipulate your emotions even more. Seek out friends and family members who support you and be aware of your emotions with them.

Have Self Compassion

People with such cynical views of goodness prey on accommodating and generous people. They try to appeal to these types of people by gaining their trust and empathy by sharing their issues. Giving in to their manipulation can leave you vulnerable and exploited. Reach out to someone you trust and try engaging yourself in self-compassion.

Start Building Supportive Relationships

If you think you have been suffering under the manipulation of a Machiavellian, start to find new friends. Start building your own support group and start removing toxic people from your life. Talking about your relationship issues with others may help you gain a new perspective and see situations in lighter terms. A friend whom you trust can provide the facts that could help you deal with your toxic relationships and break away from your current situation.

Focus on Work-Based Topics

When you really have to communicate with a Machiavellian, make sure to only focus the conversation on work-related topics. Do not start discussing personal issues that could lead you vulnerable. Deception is one of their common methods, and gaining personal information from you can put you at risk of being their prey.

Avoid Outmaneuvering Them

You have to be aware that they are experts in what they do. Do not try to outplay them. Avoid the situation if you can and don’t even attempt to play their game. Try to be on good terms with them. Do not even think of double-crossing them. If you don’t, they will double their effort and strategize a stronger plan to manipulate you.

Have a Mastery Mindset

Try establishing a win-win outcome if it is possible. A Machiavellian is only motivated to get a positive outcome for themselves and does not care if you get it too. Keep in mind that you should only focus on your own goals and not get distracted by their manipulative tactics. Better rely on your instincts and focus on their actions rather than what they are telling you.

Machiavellianism And Narcissism

Both of these traits are manipulative and deceitful. The only key difference is that a Machiavellian has longer-term strategic planning to achieve their goals. They appear to have a much lower emotional intelligence than a narcissist and are unlikely to express distress when encountering failures.

Unlike Machiavellianism, narcissistic people have a sense of what is right from wrong. Machiavellians are more likely to break the law and can commit criminal acts. Both traits also differ in their purpose and nature of lies. A narcissist often lies to bring admiration and praise to themselves for a shorter period of satisfaction, while a Machiavellian deceive others to gain superiority and power.

Machiavellianism And Psychopathy

Both traits have low empathy and are attracted to prestige, power, and control. Their deference is how they maximize the environment and their opportunities to achieve them. Unlike a Machiavellian, a psychopath focuses on short-term results. They maximize their power and wealth by making short-term decisions.

Machiavellian is characterized by cynicism and strategic calculations, while psychopaths have impulsive antisocial traits. Psychopathy is commonly characterized as a lack of loyalty and thrill-seeking behavior. They tend to turn a blind eye to severe environmental issues and do things that can destroy them, a standard behavioral pattern of a psychopath.

Can People With Machiavellianism Change?

Psychologists do not recommend being friends or having intimate relationships with a Machiavellian. People with dark triad traits, especially Machiavellianism and psychopathy, are hardwired to accomplish manipulation and are designed to do so when given the opportunity.

Regardless of the effort, you make to change them, the traits are deeply engraved in their psyche, making them highly resistant to any sort of personality adjustments. The best strategy that you can do is to avoid them and seek help from experts.

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Seek Professional Help

If you are in a situation where you do not know if the toxic people in your life or a co-worker are Machiavellian or you can’t simply get away from a toxic relationship, seek help from a counselor or a therapist. You must take care of your mental health and well-being.

Here at Kentucky Counseling Center (KCC), we have a team of professionals who are trained and specialized with these types of personality issues. Let us assist you in setting boundaries and getting back on track. For your convenience, you can book an appointment through our online portal of KCC Direct Service and have online mental health counseling.

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