"All sorts of entertaining" - Elizabeth Seckman

"Michael and his pals make me wish I lived in Adelaide" - Cherdo

"If I had a daughter, I'd send her to Australia to meet him (and marry him)" - Robyn Alana Engel

"An Australian version of me. Only younger. And Talented. And better looking. Okay, nothing like me." - Al Penwasser

"Whom must I fuck or pay to get a quotation at the top of your blog post?" - Janie Junebug

Monday, 29 February 2016

The Importance of Manipulation

"Manipulative." Generally not a trait you want ascribed to you. It sounds evil or sinister. Like you're willing to trample over whoever you need to get what you want.

I think the word gets a bad wrap. We practice manipulation all the time. It doesn't always mean you're tricking someone into doing something they don't want to do. More often, it means you're adjusting your behaviour to what's required for the situation.

I once worked with someone who put it a very unique way. His mantra was "Just schmooze everybody. You never know when you'll need or want to work with them or when you'll need something from them. There's also no point making enemies because that will come back to bite you." It sounds reasonable doesn't it? You can't hold anything against a guy who's main philosophy is just "Be nice to everybody."

Some people say that that kind of behaviour is ingenuine, but to them I say "What is genuine?" For example, if I were to be truly genuine to myself, not paying mind to how I'm interacting with others, it's quite likely I would end up alienating everybody. I would let people know that I don't care about what they do for a living or what they're studying. I would tell my boss to their face that I don't like my job and that I'm just trying to achieve the minimum amount required to still get my paycheck. I would notify every girl I check out what I think of her looks. In short, I'd be a terrible person.

But I'm not, I consider myself a pretty nice guy. So I choose to display behaviour that's appropriate for each situation. When I was dating my last girlfriend, her mum once came to see me perform stand-up. Afterwards, she mused "You know, I've never heard you swear." I realised she was right - Around my girlfriend's whole family, I'd applied a filter to my brain which removed all profanity from the conversation. I did that because I knew they don't find swearing appropriate. I liked them and I wanted them to like me, so I complied. That's manipulation.

Recently, I tried to get into a grocery store for work and realised that my identification card had expired. Well, technically I didn't notice - the girl at the counter did. But I'd greeted her with a big smile and a joke, and even flirted a little, so she liked me enough to trust me and let me through. That's manipulation.

Check out this snippet of a talk at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. It illustrates another way that you can deliberately change your behaviour in a perfectly appropriate way to get what you want.


I can understand why the word manipulation has such a bad connotation. It makes us think of being tricked, of presenting ourselves in a way that's both false and hurtful. But that's only when it's used inappropriately. Manipulation happens every time you give your partner the puppy-dog eyes so they'll let you watch what you want on TV. Every time you change the wording of something so it doesn't sound so bad. Every time you go to a job interview. Manipulation is an acceptable, natural and even an important part of life.

Can you think of any other situations that you've manipulated? 

15 comments:

  1. I guess when you get "bit in the butt" by a bad manipulation it stays with you. I agree, manipulation has a popular side. I think of the adage, "You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar.".
    Your friend's quote is what I was taught as a child by my mother. And from life experience, it is often a big surprise who rises to aide you. Cheers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Definitely. I've gotten a lot of work by just having good relationships with people I've worked with in the past.

      Delete
  2. Described like that and it can be used for good. That kind of manipulation means employing tact.
    My wife manipulates me all the time. And I usually don't mind.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hahaha relationships. The ultimate in manipulation ;)

      Delete
  3. I'm still laughing at Alex's comment. I do that do my husband too even though he's onto my tricks after almost 34 years. I often felt that part of being a parent is knowing how to manipulate your children into making the right choices. Every child is different so it takes a lot of parental effort.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I really like that example. I know from experience that if you just tell the kid the right choice, they'll reject it. You have to manipulate them into choosing it themselves.

      Delete
  4. For some people manipulation comes naturally although not for me, I suck at it, it wish I was better at it but I am not so all I can do is, I have lost my train of thought, bloody hell how did that happen so since I don't know what I was going to say I will just leave and hope no one notices me creeping out, well I would creep out but falling over stuff makes creeping out quietly not happen

    ReplyDelete
  5. You manipulated the perception of manipulation. Well played, sir; well played.

    ReplyDelete
  6. You manipulated the perception of manipulation. Well played, sir; well played.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Good points! My kids point out that I have my home voice and public voice, which are at opposite ends of the pole. Guess I'm just a public manipulator and they've caught on.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Or a home manipulator. Either is fine :)

      Delete
  8. I'll admit, that video got me. When he asked which was more persuasive, I said the first one without any second thought.

    I never thought of manipulation like this, but it's true. I especially love the idea of telling your boss why you're really there. Or how about being completely upfront in an interview?

    "Why do you want to work here?"
    Because you will give me money.
    "What's your biggest weakness?"
    I don't have any money.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've wanted to say that so many times :P

      Delete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Share This Page

Any part of this blog may be reproduced or distributed, providing credit is given to the original author.