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Shane Lynch

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What is the difference between persuasion and manipulation?

Both are used in communication. Most times purposely but sometimes mistakenly. How do we know which is which? More importantly how do we know if we are persuading or manipulating? How do we know which is being performed on us? How do we over come the negative and turn communication back into a tool which is mutually beneficial?

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  • Oct 12 2011: The main difference between these two concepts is their goals. Persuasion is used to ensure that both parts benefit from the outcome, while Manipulation is used to only benefit the user.
    We can sometimes be confused by this when considering communication. This happens a lot with publicity of new products of any kind
    I believe the key is to stop... and think about what someone is trying to "sell" to us, main questions being, Do i Really need this?, Do i Really agree with what is being presented?
    For communication to be mutually beneficial there has to be an open minded setting, meaning that both sides have to be able to listen and consider what the other is saying, instead of just trying to brute force your ideas into someone´s head. We have to realize that we are not the holders of truth, we Can and Will be wrong many times throughout our lives, and it´s by learning from these situations that we will achieve a prosperous outcome from communications
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    Oct 10 2011: Depends on if you're giving or receiving the information. With best interest at heart, not a problem. It is always the motivation thats important. Helps if you know what that is. Often people arent conscious of that, I find.
    • Oct 12 2011: I agree.
      But even if you know what motivates you, having the best interest at heart is what differences manipulating from persuading.
      E.g.: If your main goal is to make money without caring about what kind of benefit the buyer can get, you will try and manipulate it to get the product you´re selling. But if you truly believe that your product can improve someone´s life and you want them to see that benefit, you are persuading them. And in this situation both sides are comfortable with the result.
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    Oct 14 2011: The book "Influence" by Robert Cialdini contains many suggestions on how we can protect ourselves from manipulation. (He researched the book by observing, and often joining, groups who try to manipulate or influence others - car sales etc).

    How do we know if we are persuading or manipulating? For me, a useful guide is my motives. Am I aiming to get the group to accept "my" outcome, or am I hoping to see the group come up with a good outcome - which may or may not include elements of my preconceived ideas. The former not only causes me more stress, but is actually the wrong approach. In the latter, I should still present my thoughts clearly and persuasively, but I should also help others do the same with their ideas. As it happens, I blogged about this just a few days ago: http://www.agilekiwi.com/peopleskills/enjoying-meetings-part-1/
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    Oct 12 2011: What if the person doesn't know it but the product could relly benefit them... You know that it could if they would just buy it. Say a gym membership for example.
    • Oct 12 2011: I see what you mean. And your example brings an interesting question to mind. What if the person who offers the gym membership only thinks about his monetary gains, even though the buyer will get a benefit?
      In this particular case both parts are winning, but the owner is manipulating the consumer into getting the membership so he can make more money, he doesn´t really care if the client gets fitter or not.

      So a new question would be... if manipulation is selfish and persuasion seeks the best outcome for both, what draws the line? or what would be that third option in the middle?