Manipulation is the practice of getting someone to do what they don’t want to do.
Influence is the dynamic of getting someone to want to do what they might not necessarily want to do, had they not been persuaded.
It may seem that manipulation is only used for nefarious purposes, but that is not always the case.
Manipulation exists when someone is forced, or coerced, or pressured physically, psychological, or emotionally, to do something they don’t really want to do. Manipulation can also be present when someone is made to feel guilty, or when one is subject to leverage in a situation (as in, if you don’t do this, then I’ll…).
Obviously someone with good intentions might use manipulation to get someone to do what they think was best for them or that person. “If you don’t stop drinking, and go to AA, then I’ll leave”. That’s an example of positive manipulation.
Chiropractors refer to the process of back adjustment, literally, as “manipulating” the patient, and I’ll be the first to tell you that it hurts so good. Yes, you will definitely feel force being used upon you, so that’s an example of something being manipulated through force.
In other words, manipulation, while not typically seen as a positive, is not always bad.
It depends on your motive.
But now, let’s talk about influence (remember, influence is when someone gets you to WANT to do something, but there is no pressure).
There was a time in my life when I hung around people who made poor choices. They never made me feel like I had to participate, yet I wanted to be like them. So what was going on here? I was being influenced…but not for my betterment.
On the flip side, if I had hung around more wholesome people, they probably would have influenced me to want to live a higher, more wholesome daily walk.
This is why it’s not enough to teach our children to stand against peer pressure. Even though I wasn’t pressured to do anything, I was definitely influenced…so when you think about it, the power of influence may be even stronger than the force of manipulation…because when you are influenced, you want to do something, no one pressures you into it.
Tomorrow, I’ll be discussing ways to stand against negative influences and manipulation.