Master Moves

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…

Master Move Action Steps:

  •  Master Operant Conditioning

One of the most practical forms of manipulation to master is a process through which a behavior is modified by reward (reinforcement) or punishment. In Operant conditioning reward is something given in exchange for good behavior or good work, etc… Reinforcement is any response that increases the frequency or intensity of a given behavior. When a child engages in a behavior you like such as cleaning their room, you might reward them by letting the child stay up late or allowing them to play a video game for a while longer. Punishment is any response that reduces the frequency or intensity of a behavior. The child does not clean their room, so the child gets denied freedom to stay up late or video game privileges.

  • Begin seeing the World through Operant Eyes

Think about all of the little behavioral changes you’ve made in response to the influence of others around you. Think about the changes you made when someone congratulated you for losing weight or picked on you because your clothes were out of style… How did you respond? Were you manipulated into giving a response? Any behavior changes on your part happened due to reinforcers or punishers, or both. We are constantly being reinforced and punished. Learn to see it in every interaction and then begin using it to reinforce and punish the behaviors of others to get your desired response.

  • Win Friends and Manipulate People

Think about how you act and react to people you want to persuade or influence. When you interact, speak in a consistent way that is inviting, compassionate, and understanding. Learn to speak this way even when you don’t agree with someone or feel negatively towards them. By speaking this way, even despite the fact that they might annoy the shit out of you, it reinforces an atmosphere of mutual respect and may cause your adversary to drop their guard. An added benefit is that by mastering this technique no one will be able to accurately read you because they won’t know what you are really thinking.

When choosing your responses, remember that a lack of response can be equally hurtful and helpful to your manipulation. Be aware of your intended and unintended responses when engaging or not engaging others. When not responding you are still responding so make every response reinforce your desired intentions. People will be attracted to how your behavior reinforces or punishes theirs. If you appear trusting, they will trust you so that when you need pawns to help you complete a task, they will rise up and support you.

  • Master non-verbal communication and behavioral traits

Become aware of your power to manipulate non-verbally. Your non-verbal communication can be just as powerful as your verbal communication. A wink of the eye can motivate a person to succeed in a task, strengthen friendships, fall in love, or even risk life and limb for you.

  • Eventually become a master of all manipulative tactics

To truly master manipulation you must be willing to use every tactic: seduction, operant conditioning, non-verbal and behavioral manipulation, social influence, shaming, lying, lying by omission, playing the victim role, vilifying a victim, projecting blame, feigning innocence, brandishing anger or rage, playing the servant role, peer pressure, feigning confusion, diversion, and evasion to exploit a situation and gain the advantage.

Be forewarned: I’m not telling you to steal or kill to reach your objective, but I am telling you to do whatever the situation requires of you to do depending on the circumstances and your best judgement.

Become conditioned to respond to the behaviors of others and events in such a way that you are able to detect intentions through indicators verbal and non-verbal, to then use your powerful tools of persuasion and influence to predict the future, read minds, and make anyone in your sphere of influence exploitable agents to your success.

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