The Pros and Cons of Manipulation

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The Pros and Cons of Manipulation
Everyone manipulates. It's one of the first things we learn to do. But does it have a downside?

According to a new study, the use of manipulation is one way to test partner's love.

Manipulation as a technique for getting what we want is something we all learn as babies.  Even before we have figured out that the Mommy is another person, we begin experimenting with how to get her to react to us in different ways.  Of course we know how to whine and cry from the very beginning, and this gets a useful response at first.  Soon we begin to try faking emotion in order to see how Mommy will react.  Usually, Mom can tell the difference.  As we get older, we learn other ways of getting what we need or want. But none of us forgets how to manipulate and consciously or unconsciously, we use manipulation to get what we want even after we have learned how to ask directly and effectively.  Manipulation is used in sales and business relationships as well as personal relationships.  Seduction, persuasion, intimidation, and a whole lot of lying are all forms of manipulation.  Anytime we set out to evoke a feeling in another person in order to get what we want without asking for it directly, we are using manipulation.  What are the pros and cons of using manipulation?

Pros:
It often works.  If I know what I want and I know how to evoke a feeling in the other person so that they will want to do what I want, manipulation is measurably effective.  Millions if not billions of dollars in research on marketing strategies points to this.
We are pretty good at it.  After all, we have been practicing since before we could walk, and we are initially very sensitive to others feelings and highly motivated to work out successful ways of influencing Mommy and Daddy.  So we are pretty good at reading others and guessing how to motivate them.  Some of us are much better at this than others. 
Plausible deniability.  If I come right out and ask you for what I want, it’s there on the table and I can’t deny it.  You can say no, and I may be left feeling disappointed and rejected.  But if I secretly do something to trigger feelings in you to act the way I want, and you choose not to, I can keep my disappointment to myself.
Power Since all relationships have an element of power in them, influencing your feelings through manipulation is one way I can exert power in our relationship.
Cons:
It can backfire, big time. People often sense when they are being manipulated and it generates resentment.  If I think you are trying to manipulate me, exert power over me in a sneaky way, I won’t trust you in the future.  If I think you have successfully manipulated me, even if I don’t begrudge giving you what you wanted, I may want to withhold something from you to get even.  If I think you have been playing with my feelings, the power struggle between us will escalate and trust goes out the window.

Article contributed by
Advanced Member

Brock Hansen

YourTango Expert Partner

Brock Hansen, LICSW

www.change-for-good.org

BrockHansenLCSW@aol.com

Location: Washington, DC
Credentials: LICSW, MSW
Specialties: Anxiety Issues, Depression, Eating & Food Issues
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