Are You Getting Manipulated? How To Spot A Difference Between Influence & Manipulation
For many, there is hardly any difference between influencing, persuading, and manipulation. The reasons are obvious. All three communication techniques lead to people adopting a point of view or making a decision under the influence of it.
However, these techniques differ greatly, both in intent and in the actual execution.
We speak of persuasion when we target one's rational side and use logical arguments. Influencing aims more at emotions. Manipulation then works with both sources, but the logic of argumentation is often only apparent and linked to negative emotions. In other words, whenever you hear a logical argument and it makes you feel miserable, you are most certainly being manipulated. Manipulation is, in fact, persuasion coupled with conditioning ("If you don't do it or accept it, you'll feel stupid... bad... guilty...").
9 ways to spot manipulation
- Influencing works with a wide range of feelings, including positive ones (enthusiasm, interest). Manipulation leans on negative emotions, especially fear and guilt.
- Influencing and persuasion offer the other party a choice - it does not create guilt if the other party chooses otherwise. In manipulation, there is no place for choice.
- Manipulation often relies on emotional blackmail. Feeling stupid or guilty then leads people to give in just to get rid of these feelings but under different circumstances, they would not have made that same decision.
- Influence and persuasion are disclosed. Manipulation is only effective if it is hidden and undetected.
- Influencing works with factual benefits and utility, or a positive vision. Manipulation, on the other hand, is based on general and exaggerated formulations (no one, everyone, worst, best...).
- The prelude to manipulation is usually flattery, sometimes also a threat. Influencing and persuasion preserve the partner's equal status.
8. The power of those who want to influence or persuade others is based on trust. The more trust people have in someone, the more power that someone has in persuading and influencing them. Trust is usually built up gradually and through positive experience. Manipulation stands on the power and skill of the manipulator to exert pressure here and now.
9. The manipulator pursues only their own interests. The impact on the manipulated is negative (whether he or she succumbs to the manipulation or resists). When influencing, the impact is positive or at least neutral. The influencer acts in good faith. They are convinced of what they are saying.
Basically, all the techniques are based on the same or very similar skills that are certainly worth developing. Whether you then use them in good faith to persuade or influence others, or whether you use them to manipulate others, is up to you.