Over the past few articles, in discussing Persuasion versus Manipulation, a large part of our focus — both mine and many of the readers’ comments — has been that in order for persuasion to be “righteous” — if you will — it must also benefit the other individual involved. Otherwise, it would fall under the category of manipulation.
However, there is an exception. And, that is when — as is so often the case in the persuasion process — your obtaining what you desire will neither help nor harm the other person. In these cases, the above concern isn’t applicable.
This could include anything from turning a negative customer-service rep into a friendly and helpful advocate of your cause; overcoming bureaucratic (and non-productive) red tape in order to obtain what you need; assisting the befuddled airport ticket agent to find a solution to a travel problem; or persuading the bank manager to cash that out-of-town check you need cashed right now. And, of course, there are dozens if not hundreds of such situations.
Yes, one could argue that persuading successfully in these cases actually does help the other; perhaps in becoming a more helpful, solution-oriented person or in some other way. And, it’s terrific if and when that happens. But, really, in these cases, that result is secondary.
I guess we could say that, above all, our aim as positive persuaders is to, at best, help the other person as well as ourselves. At worse; it’s to do no harm while we attain what we need. And, of course, in either case, helping the other person feel good about themselves and the situation is always the correct thing to do.