Manipulation vs. Influence

One aspect of learning the psychology of persuasion is the inevitable grappling with its dark side. It helps if we understand the difference between manipulation and influence.

Manipulation happens when something important or powerful is intentionally hidden from view. In sales, outsized commissions can sometimes drive manipulation as the salesperson may want the compensation more than the client needs the product or service.

Influence happens when intentions and objectives, even if different, become more powerful as they are revealed, combined, or discovered. In sales, influence can show up anywhere something is mutually beneficial and clearly so to both parties.

We’re OK with someone getting compensated for providing something we want or need. We’re not OK with someone tricking us into something that mostly benefits them.

In time, influence always trumps manipulation. In a relationship business, we always want to make the move that furthers our client’s position and desirably ours as well. Manipulation may be effective for short term gains, but if repeat transactions, referrals, or reputation building is a goal, it will never be a good strategy.

See also: “Influence > Authority” and any of these posts influenced by Robert Cialdini.