When Is Manipulation Awesome?

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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 can also be amazing, positive, effective, and helpful. What makes the difference? Our consciousness and intent.

“Arriving at the destination is more than just having the map.”

Judy Ryan, CEO LifeWork Systems

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)

This article is published in St. Louis Small Business Monthly, in the column The Extraordinary Workplace, April 2022.

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Business owners and executives, community leaders, parents, educators and individuals hire LifeWork Systems because they know that effective conditions and conversations make all the difference in building trusting relationships, achieving dreams, and creating solutions and innovations for our evolving world. When people are happy and responsible, emotionally and socially intelligent, confident, and appropriately seen, heard, and supported, they always exceed expectations. We help instill into every person common concepts, terms, tools, and processes that result in healthy, happy, caring and contributing individuals, teams and organizations. Our mission is to create a world in which all people love their lives!

We appreciate you being here on our website and encourage you to reach out to us directly at info@lifeworksystems.com or  314.239.4727. May something we offered in this article and website help you love YOUR life ~ because YOU matter!

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