Sarah’s Snippets 9/7/2015
Influence has an evil twin, manipulation. Both involve moving people to a different mindset, often with the goal of an action. Both are used when dealing with people from a position of power or oversight. They are so similar, how can one be sure they are influencing and not manipulating?
One of the easiest ways to distinguish between them is to consider the outcomes: Influence creates positive outcomes and positive feelings. Influence builds relationships by building sustainable trust. The goal of influence is to create win-win results where all parties walk away feeling good about the situation. To do this, the other person must be able to recognize that they have a choice to make without feeling forced into it. Influence also focuses on strengths, therefore the parties both feel good about the interactions and the choices that resulted.
Manipulation is the opposite side of the coin. Manipulation may achieve the desired results, and may even achieve them faster, but in the process it erodes trust. A choice made following manipulation is a choice that leaves no desirable alternatives, thus the feeling that there was really no choice at all. The manipulator focuses on weaknesses with the goal of getting what they want out of the negotiation instead of what is best for the greater good of both parties. As a result, the manipulator may get action, but leave the others angry. This anger can undermine future attempts to influence, and in an organization the anger can diminish the work output and overall morale.
Succinctly stated, influence leaves people feeling good while manipulation leaves participants feeling bad. These differences are critical if one is to achieve positive influence and the effective results it can create. As SALT strives to build strong collaborative partnerships, we work to be influencers, not manipulators.