by: Don G / @lbdStreetFashion
Don’t think of this as a negative. Make situations work for you.
Mastering the art of manipulation is a game changer for those willing to use others to advance their interests. When someone persuades another to do something, think in a particular way, or respond in a specific way that person becomes a manipulator. Wikipedia defines psychological manipulation as a type of social influence that aims to change the behavior or perception of others through abusive, deceptive, or underhanded tactics. By advancing the interests of the manipulator, often at another’s expense, such methods could be considered exploitative, abusive, devious, and deceptive.
While manipulation can be exploitative, abusive, devious, and deceptive it can also be used strategically to influence or persuade in a positive non-coercive way.
Society largely views manipulation negatively, but this should not be the only way to perceive its use. It can be used in a positive way when other methods are not effective. To get what you want you must be willing to at times influence others to aid you. This may be accomplished through reward (reinforcement) and punishment, social influence to change a bad habit, shaming, lying, lying by omission, playing the victim role, seduction, vilifying a victim, projecting blame, feigning innocence, brandishing anger or rage, playing the servant role or pretending to be obedient, using peer pressure or the bandwagon effect, feigning confusion, diversion, or evasion.
Babies manipulate their parents to pay attention to them through crying. Politicians manipulate people to vote for them through promising major change and more jobs. Activist justify their self-serving agendas in guise of a service to a more noble cause. People wanting to date you use charm, praise, and flatter to get you to lower your defenses and accept them into your life. Universities manipulate students into believing that carrying debt created through student loans will net promising career opportunities upon completion . Every advertisement persuades you into submission claiming (whether true or false) that many people already have done something, and you should as well. Lies and half-truths get you to buy and think what society want you to. You can’t escape manipulation’s power or influence. You too are a manipulator who daily lies about lying. Every white lie you have ever told was a form of manipulation. So I’m not telling you to stop doing it, I’m saying learn to use it to your strategic advantage to make situations work in your favor.
In some situations, manipulation would be almost unethical not to employ. In 1986, Leon F. Seltzer, Ph.D. published a book entitled Paradoxical Strategies in Psychotherapy: A Comprehensive Overview and Guidebook. In this book he demonstrated how virtually every major school of therapy included a surprising variety of indirect, noncommonsensical paradoxical techniques. At the time, some colleges in the therapeutic community feared that they might be misunderstood as being manipulative and so hesitated to employ his unorthodox techniques. Dr. Seitzer believed that if his techniques could assist clients in achieving therapeutic goals, then it would be almost unethical not to employ them—particularly when nothing else had succeeded in bringing about the desired change.
We’ve all had moments when a situation strongly motivated us to lend aid to someone who genuinely needed our help. Yet, for whatever reasons, they turned down all attempts. Realizing that helping them was for their own good might have inspired you—however devious, surreptitious, or crafty to take matters into your own hands. Deviating from a more traditional approach to promoting another’s welfare could substantially increase your odds of “reaching” them and helping them achieve a beneficial outcome.
The African American civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. was a master persuader and did just that. The ‘Civil Rights March on Washington’, is a prime example of how psychological manipulation changed the perception of equality for a nation. King lead a large social movement and civil-rights demonstrations to change public opinion of the unfair treatment of African Americans and other people of color. On the 28th of August, 1963 in Washington DC, King performed his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech raising the pressure to change social views about African Americans in the US. He addressed a crowd of 250,000 people in Washington DC, as well as millions of Americans who watched him on television.
Throughout his civil-rights demonstrations done through rallies and public speeches, King promoted non-violent protesting as a solution to persuade White Americans his movement was peaceful, but also demanded change. In 1964, the ‘Civil Rights Acts‘ commenced giving African Americans more opportunities for equality and social change.
So, should you be manipulative? Deceptive? Scheming? Downright dishonest? Well, at times you will need to be all of the above. Yet your strategy in doing so should also be clever, creative—and just maybe a smidgen desperate. To effectively manipulate others inasmuch as you perceive your situation calls for, you must be comfortable with behaving in a way that might best be described as caring and compassionate while your tactics are devious and your underlying motives at times ethically questionable…