Whenever I hear someone say, “They tried to manipulate me,” I often think to myself, “Well, of course, they did. Everyone tries to manipulate people and circumstances all day long. That is the nature of life and business.”
When I first began to understand the actual meaning of this concept, it gave me a brand new opportunity to learn and grow. I was forced to discover a finer distinction in the way that life actually works. I had always thought that manipulation was a bad thing. I did not understand the true definition of manipulation. The American College dictionary defines manipulation: 1) to handle, manage, or use especially with skill, in some process of treatment of performance; 2) to manage or influence by artful skill.
Now before you pick up your rocks to throw them at me, I want you to know that I realize there is also such a thing as deceitful manipulation. We will get to that in just a minute. For now, just keep reading to see if you can gain a new insight into life and relationships and business.
I began to re-evaluate the truth about manipulation. As it turns out, it is actually a good thing! I had always thought of it as a bad thing because the word itself carries with it some negative overtones. And, the reason I had always thought of it in a negative light is because I had manipulation mixed up with deception. Let’s look at manipulation in a positive light.
When a mother prepares a delicious dinner for her family, she is trying to “manipulate” them into eating a healthy meal. When you walk into a clothing store, all of those new, fresh clothes have been put on display in order to “manipulate” you into buying some of them. When a husband brings flowers home to his wife, he is trying to “manipulate” her into thinking that he cares about her and loves her. When a chiropractor adjusts your spine he is trying to “manipulate” your bones in order to get them back into proper alignment. And, all of these are good things! You see, healthy manipulation occurs when you are doing something in order to get other people to be influenced in a positive manner by your actions.
If you stop and think about it, almost everything we do is done in order to get another person to do certain things or make circumstances turn out the way we would like. As long as those situations are good events, then manipulation is a good thing as well. However, everything turns sour when we become deceptive or deceitful. When we try to “trick” someone into doing something for our own good, instead of for their own good, then deception occurs.
Maybe a synonym or more accurate word for manipulation would be influence. If we are trying to help or manipulate or maneuver someone for their own good, to help them have a better life, a better attitude or a better relationship, then the manipulation or influence could be viewed as positive.
It is also a lot like the word hiding. If you are hiding something because you want to surprise someone and make them happy, it may be a good thing. But, on the other hand, if you are trying to hide something in order to keep someone from finding out something they need to know, then it could be a bad thing. So, there is “good hiding” and “bad hiding”!
You see, it really comes down to being educated and understanding the difference in terms. The reason I think this is so important is that it has helped me to stop and ask myself one important question: “Since I am trying to manipulate (influence) everyone I deal with, what is my motivation? Am I doing things in an honest, open fashion, which is mentally healthy and emotionally sound for their benefit? Or, am I doing things in a deceitful way, which is really for my own benefit and may even be to their detriment or harm?”
The next time you are dealing with a person, take a step back and analyze your motive. Check to see if you are trying to help them and make their life better. If you are, then you are involved in good manipulation. You are being a positive influence. If you are doing it to deceive them, to harm them, or to get something out of them, which will be to your advantage and their detriment, then I would say that what you are doing is deceitful and wrong. You are being a bad influence.
Again, this is just a “check-up from the neck-up” to help each of us look at our actions to see if we are in fact a good manipulator or a bad deceiver. I believe the kind of people that I associate with want to help others and you are part of that group. You are a good manipulator! That is probably how you got on the list to receive this Tip of the Week in the first place. So, again, take a look at your actions and see what your motive is behind what you are doing. You can be a good manipulator and a positive influence and help a lot of people this week!
Tip: Remember, there is a big distinction between manipulation and deception!
Have a great week! God bless you!
Dr. Robert A. Rohm