Leveraging OPE (other people’s energy) for fame and fortune – are you manipulative?
What’s the difference between manipulation and persuasion?
Someone was asking me this the other day. And I had to pause and take stock.
It’s true a lot of the techniques are the same. And the game is the same – take a meat-bag of emotions and bring it around to a particular idea.
So did I just persuade you to go into a joint-venture with me? Or did I manipulate you?
The line’s not clear.
Like a lot of things in life, I think you know manipulation when you see it. Like what’s the difference between porn and erotica? You know it when you see it.
That’s not entirely satisfying. It still leaves a lot up to subjective interpretation. One man’s porn is another man’s room full of Roman cos-play enthusiasts enjoying their birth-right to embodied joy and bliss.
So I think it comes back to intention.
When you engage the techniques of persuasion, what are you trying to do?
Are you trying to convince someone to do something that you believe is against their own interests? That’s manipulation.
Are you helping them to see how the outcome you’re presenting is actually awesome for them too? Then that’s persuasion.
So if you’re trying to get someone to shell out a small fortune for a lemon of a car – that’s manipulation. Trying to convince them to buy your product, rather than your competitors, because you genuinely believe its superior value-for-money? Persuasion.
This is one area where sales theory is actually pretty well advanced.
I think good businesses know that their product isn’t for everyone. They’re upfront about it, and they actually invest a good chunk of their marketing to find the ‘right’ customers, not just ‘any’ customers.
And from there, their sales techniques come from a place where you genuinely believe your product is a great product and a great fit for your client's needs.
You’re not trying to ‘con’ them into a sale. You just trying to help them see the situation the same way you do.
Call it the difference between manipulative sales and persuasive sales.
The interesting thing is that persuasive sales is so much easier. You’re just speaking your truth. You’re genuinely interested in finding common ground, and you have a genuine interest in your client’s success.
Anyone can be trained up in this kind of sales technique.
Manipulative sales on the other hand is a real art. It takes a lot of skill to engage with someone for a decent length of time, and not set off their BS trip-wires.
You’ve got to hide what you really think from them. That involves creating a façade – a construct.
(The best I’ve seen do a process of self-deception first – where they convince themselves that its good for the client, and then let themselves sell from there.)
But it’s hard. It’s not for everybody. It’s not something you can teach anyone.
And so look, if you can, be persuasive, not manipulative.
You get a better outcome and it’s just so much easier.