Sunday, May 3, 2015

Persuasion vs. Manipulation

Persuasion with good intention should help problem-solving, manipulation more often serves ego.
"Persuasion is the action or fact of persuading someone or of being persuaded to do or believe something." "Manipulation is the skillful handling, controlling or using of something or someone. " ( Persuasion is not manipulation, but whether the one is more negative than the other depends on who is making the assessment, and what’s the best way to solve the problem. Is persuasion more informative and manipulation more forceful?

Persuasion with good intention should help problem-solving, manipulation more often serves ego: There is the process of sharing information with others in order to come to an effective solution. You build your conclusions and compare notes. The goal is not in being "right" or to "win." The goal is to solve the problem. When it is more important to win as a goal, you withhold information that contradicts your conclusions. You hold and defend a “position.” All of that work can take away time and energy that could have been used for developing an effective solution.

To persuade someone is to point out the mutual benefits that both parties will have if a particular direction is chosen: What is manipulation? Despite the denial, it might indicate to create scarcity; reciprocity to get more; or the power of touch. Problem-solving should be the very goals of persuasion. From the problem-solving perspective, it is being okay to fail and to make mistakes. One reason for that is that it leads to learning. You learn in order to solve problems, meet challenges. But these problems are complicated or complex. Finding solutions requires thinkers from various departments and from various disciplines. That means people need to contribute and buy-in and commit time and resources. You can't afford to approach these big problems with team members who "drag their feet."

Persuasion is a leadership quality to sell either vision or new ideas: To manipulate is to cause someone to make a decision with force. “Leadership is the art of getting someone else does something that needs to be done, and they want to do it!" (Eisenhower). The quote speaks to the essence of leadership. If others won't do what needs to be done, then you aren't a leader, as the word "leader" implies followers to accomplish the goal. So then, the question is how does one get others to WANT to do the task? Therein lies the issue of influence and persuasion. To manipulate is to handle literally. So handling a situation is to make it come out in your favor. Suppose in the past a tribesman had to travel to visit another tribe, alone in the wilderness, he had to handle any situation. In modern personality types, some people are more to manipulate situations, while others have the type of those who remained with the group and followed. In principle, at the age of information abundance and digital democracy, the persuasion is more reasonable with an intention to convince (not necessarily coerce) other people.

So manipulation is more related to brute force, and persuasion implies to solve problems in the more harmonized way. Either through inspiration based on vision, negotiation via trade-off, or communication through mutual understanding and respect, you could possibly learn persuasion as a technique, but the motive and passion are needed with the end in mind, to solve the problems more effectively and harmonically.   


PEARL ZHU, You highlight great point; "Persuasion with good intention should help problem solving, manipulation more often serves ego.". Thanks for this nice post.

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