Manipulation Is Terrible, That’s Why I Love It

I was training a group last week and said it’s okay to “manipulate” people.

Oh the horror.

You should have heard the screams. They started wetting their panties.

Manipulation is bad. You can’t use that word.

We’re in sales. We’re advisors. We don’t manipulate people.


I replied, “That’s very manipulative of you. You’re manipulating me and trying and make me feel bad for using that word.”

It’s a word. To many it holds a negative connotation… Which is why I love it.

It gets the masses throwing their hands up and covering their ears. “Don’t say that. I would never do that.”

Yet we do it everyday.

We manipulate our kids to make sure they live to see adulthood.

We manipulate our spouse, friends, and coworkers so we can all get along.

There are a couple of definitions of manipulate that you can use (from Merriam-Webster):

  1. To treat or operate with or as if with the hands or by mechanical means especially in a skillful manner.
  2. To change by artful or unfair means so as to serve one’s purpose.

Most people go with the 2nd definition. They think of the unfair means.

If you’re in business, unfair means won’t allow you to live a long life. Which is why I like the first definition.

Influence requires skill. It’s only unfair in the wrong hands, someone with the wrong intention.

And I use it to prove a point.

The words you use can help or hurt.

We all ascribe meaning. Sometimes it’s based on the context of the communication. Sometimes it’s based on the context of the listener’s life.

And we don’t think about it because it’s something we do naturally. Maybe it’s time we start thinking about it. And using words a little more skillfully.

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