“Arriving at the destination is more than just having the map.”
Judy Ryan, CEO LifeWork Systems
Manipulation has gotten a bad rap. We often feel insulted and become defensive when we or someone we love is described as manipulative. The common belief is that manipulation is bad and sometimes it is. But it’s also amazing and positive and effective and helpful. What makes the difference? Our consciousness and intent. Manipulation is no more positive or negative than a car. It is a means to achieve a destination. When I wrote above arriving at the destination is more than just having the map that’s the same as the ends do NOT justify the means. How and why we choose to manipulate are the means and we have the responsibility to consider our means with thoughtful care and intention.
We are all always manipulative, all the time, no exceptions. Yep. That’s because we’re self-determining and purposeful no matter what we are doing and no matter how aware we are when we act. If you had a loaded gun, hopefully you wouldn’t be reckless and thoughtless about where it’s kept and how it’s used. The same is true for your manipulations. You must be awake to their power, presence and how you use them for good.
In my work, I first manipulate the mindsets of people. I offer compelling evidence, stories, examples, Socratic questions, and new habits that allow people to consider ideas they never have. Next, I manipulate the behavior of those I lead by teaching them tools and techniques to manipulate first their internal understanding and behavior, then others in relationships. This helps them manipulate themselves to effect positive changes internally and externally. One of the most important manipulations I begin with is helping people recognize what is working and not working and why.
A skill I teach is called redirecting negative behavior. In this, people learn to become aware of what they’re feeling when facing someone who is discouraged and misbehaving. They then recognize what fearful belief is likely in play and recall how they can best interact with this pattern, despite often considerable initial resistance from the discouraged person. This skill becomes a super power. People often say in the beginning, “Aren’t I manipulating when I redirect?” This is when the manipulation conversation comes up and is the inspiration for this article. I tell them, “Yes, first you’re manipulating yourself out of seeing the person as a monster. Then you’re manipulating yourself to remember what pattern is in play from fear and limitation. Next, you manipulate yourself to remember this person’s needs instead of judging, criticizing, blaming and reacting negatively to them. Next, you use very scripted steps to manipulate the other person into finding their way to who they are at their best, not who they think they are from discouragement. From all of this, you manipulate change in their mind, heart, and behavior.” What could be better than manipulating people from fear to love? And by the way, I remind them that any person who is engaged in negative behavior is also manipulating those around them, selling them on, and seeking validation for, fearful, limiting beliefs they are unaware are in play.
Own your manipulative nature. It is literally part of your design. It is an aspect of your power. And, the problem is not your power. The problem is that you may have not been celebrated for having it, nurtured in awareness of it, and taught intentional use of it. That’s the work LifeWork Systems does in every kind of setting with entire teams so that people become responsible and competent in using their manipulation for the highest purposes, values, and visions. Let me know if you could use our help with this. It is the best investment you can make because you are developing your greatest asset: your people. May my article manipulate you into calling me. :0)
Why People Hire Judy Ryan and LifeWork Systems
Business owners, community leaders, and educators hire Lifework Systems because they want the advantages of an extraordinary workplace and recognize a systems approach ensures consistency and sustainability in the transformation process. They know that conscientious employees grow your business and improve your reputation, giving you competitive advantages. We help organizations instill into every person a common language and toolset for how to participate in a responsibility-based Teal workplace. Visit our website at www.lifeworksystems.com, and click the link at the bottom to complete a culture assessment and schedule your first consult to review a report on your feedback, all at no cost. You can also contact Judy Ryan at 314.239.4727 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article is published in The St. Louis Small Business Monthly, in Judy’s column The Extraordinary Workplace, April 2022.