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.
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It’s common knowledge that we are always “selling” something, a product, an idea, etc. “Sales” aka “Persuasion” doesn’t have to be viewed as something negative. It is said that “perception is everything” I believe that it is an art to be able to present a product or idea in a manner that is confident, passionate, and knowledgeable in hope that in the end it will produce a win/win situation for all involved. When the intention is good, everyone can feel positive about the exchange regardless of whether it results in a “sale” or the conclusion is that it’s “not for everyone”
I wonder how many people are aware of the fact they manipulate, rather than persuade… 😉
Human nature is a funny thing, interesting but funny.
Hi Rob, thank you for writing. That’s a good question. In the previous post https://www.burg.com/2010/08/questioning-our-own-motives/ I provided a look at how one could tell, but it really comes down to being willing to question oneself and not accept rationalizations. I believe this is something we all need to stay conscious of.
Question oneself… that’s all we can do really I suppose. 🙂
Intent, everything in life boils down to that one thing, it has a huge bearing on the results too.
If my life’s observations are anywhere close to accurate, Rob, I’d say about 98 percent.
The real question is, why should I even bother to care whether I’m persuading or manipulating? It’s all just semantics, isn’t?
Persuade me 🙂
Hi all, thank you for your comments.
Tele, I agree that not only does Persuasion not have to be viewed as negative…it is – by its very nature – not negative, but positive. What is negative is its “cousin”, manipulation. I wrote several recent articles on this topic beginning with “Persuasion vs. Manipulation” at https://www.burg.com/2010/08/persuasion-vs-manipulation/. Feel free to check them out, if you’d like. Thank you, my friend.
Russ, while semantics come into play anytime that words and their meanings are being discussed, I’m hoping that the series of articles demonstrated that there is a difference, and that the difference extends beyond just semantics. Feel free to read the articles as well as comments in the Comments section that opposed my view. Then, of course, come to your own conclusion. Much appreciated. https://www.burg.com/2010/08/persuasion-vs-manipulation/
I enjoyed your posts about “Questioning Our Motives” which would been a better place for me to post my comment, in either case, I agree with you! 🙂 ~Tele
This article was helpful to me. I am in the midst of a c omplicated situation that involves my daughter and her children (A 1,2, and 3 year old). I have been very active in thier lives until recently. My daughter has decided that my involvement is bad on her self esteem and that I critisize to much. So, she has completely cutt me off. At first I attempted to manipulate her thinking becaue the thought of losing the cloesness I have with my grandchildren is horrifying to me. Then, I begged her to reconsider. Then, I turned off my phone, unplugged my computer and decided to give her space.
This article reminded me that my intension are good, though my consideration for my daughters feelings are absent. I have decided to take a parenting class or two, see a therapist about my negative thoughts and comments and work on what my daughter feels is causing her harm. My hope is that someday we will have a better relationship than we did before. Giving up just isn’t an option for me.
Tele, you can post anywhere you’d like, my great friend!
Patricia, I’m sorry that you are having to go through this. It is a great credit to you that – rather than just dismiss your daughter’s opinion – you are taking ownership of your actions and seeking professional counseling. I’m very proud of you, and it is my hope that, indeed, you will have a very happy relationship with your daughter and your grandchildren. Please keep in touch and let us know.