Over the past few weeks, we’ve discussed six manipulation techniques to be aware of and learn to avoid: 1) gaslighting; 2) the victim card; 3) fear mongering; 4) feigning ignorance; 5) guilt tripping; and 6) divide and conquer. In addition to equipping oneself to not fall prey to these techniques, it’s also important to not be a manipulator yourself. The ability to persuade others is often important because you can lead others to do very good things, but unfortunately many children learn to use manipulation to get their way and use it later in life in lieu of honest persuasion techniques. Manipulation is a word that often comes with a slew of negative connotations, and rightfully so. It implies a level of deceit, coercion, or exploitation that tends to tarnish trust and relationships. While it may appear to offer short-term gains, the long-term costs of manipulation can be damaging and significant. A good culture (at least in my mind) is one where you can generally expect your neighbor to be someone you can trust, but when the manipulation techniques we’ve discussed are used to persuade or effect change, that trust is damaged. Here are six reasons why you should avoid using manipulation techniques as a means of persuasion or getting your way:
- Damage to Trust and Relationships
The cornerstone of any healthy relationship (or office, local culture, etc.), be it personal or professional, is trust. Manipulation, by its nature, involves a betrayal of trust. Once trust is damaged, it can be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to rebuild. This can lead to the deterioration of relationships and a loss of personal and professional opportunities.
- Development of Unhealthy Dynamics
Manipulation can create and sustain unhealthy dynamics in a family, office, community, etc. The person using manipulative tactics holds an unfair advantage, while the person on the receiving end often feels powerless and exploited. These dynamics can result in resentment, fear, and a lack of productive communication.
- Degradation of Personal Integrity and Reputation
Using manipulation techniques can harm your personal integrity. What I’ve noticed in dealing with many individuals with long criminal histories is that these folks didn’t necessarily set out to be criminal, but over the course of time, the more law they broke and the more they fell into the rut of criminal behavior, the more it became normal and hard for them to break from their habits. Something similar happens when you develop a habit of unethical behavior. Once it becomes normal for you, a conversion of spirit needs to occur to break from the unethical behavior. Using manipulation to get your way, for example, can become such a habit that it becomes part of your character and how you view yourself. Over time, repeated manipulative behavior will also tarnish your reputation. Once your reputation is damaged, it’s incredibly difficult to restore. People are less likely to engage with someone they perceive as manipulative or untrustworthy. However, if you have the habit of being a manipulator, it is possible to make a turn, even if it will take some deliberate corrective steps.
- Creation of a Stressful Environment
Manipulation creates an environment filled with tension and anxiety. The constant need to control situations and outcomes can be mentally and emotionally draining, not just for the victims of manipulation, but also for the manipulator.
- Hindrance to Personal Growth and Development
Relying on manipulation prevents personal growth. It stops us from developing healthier communication skills, empathy, and understanding. Rather than addressing issues or conflicts in a mature, straightforward manner, manipulation sidesteps these opportunities for growth.
- Loss of Genuine Connections
Manipulation can rob us of the chance to form genuine connections with others. It replaces authentic interaction with games and deceit. The depth and richness that come from honest relationships are lost when manipulation comes into play.
Rather than resorting to manipulation, consider ethical alternatives like open communication, active listening, respect for others, and fair negotiation. These practices not only uphold your personal integrity but also foster healthier, more fulfilling relationships. Remember, the key to effective persuasion isn’t manipulation, but understanding and respect.