Mark Blasini


Influence vs. manipulation


When strategy is involved, there is always a question regarding manipulation. Is it right to use strategic techniques to deal with my spouse or child or colleague or boss? Isn't this manipulation?

Here I would make a distinction between influence and manipulation.

Manipulation is about getting someone to do what you want regardless of how that person feels or whether it is in that person's best interest.

It often involves using tactics like guilt-tripping ("I did this for you, you can at least do that for me"), pressuring ("If you really loved me, you would do this"), intimidating ("If you don't do this, I'm going to tell everyone that you..."), lying, or dramatizing.

Manipulation tactics may work in the short-term, but in the long-term they will fail you. No one likes to be manipulated, to feel forced or pressured to do something that goes against their interests.

Influence, on the other hand, is not about trying to get people to do what you want, but aboutopening upothers to your ideas or way of thinking. It's about getting others to take you more seriously, to listen to what you have to say, to consider what you put forward.

In an ideal world, everyone would listen to what everyone else has to say because everyone deserves respect and to be listened to. However, in reality, most people are closed off to the ideas of others. They live in their own world or bubble, have their own opinions and beliefs. And if your ideas involve changing how they think or behave, they will resist you.

Strategic living involves asking the question:how do I get others to listen to me? How do contribute ideas that will actually be paid attention to?

Not simply so that others do your bidding, but so that there is an open flow of ideas and communication between you and other people. So that your spouse or child or boss is more open to your ideas and interests and you are more open to theirs.

It's in this kind of "open" relationship that true cooperation and creativity can occur. But it starts with understanding how to manage the resistances people may have, including your own.