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How to tell the difference between persuasion and manipulation - Robert Noggle | Aeon Ideas

Forms of manipulation

We are continually subject to manipulation. For instance:

  • Gaslighting: It involves encouraging someone to doubt their own judgment and to rely on the manipulator's advice instead.
  • Guilt trips: Making someone feel overly guilty for failing to do what the manipulator wants him/her to do.
  • Peer pressure: Caring so much about the manipulator's approval that she/he will obey the manipulators' wishes.

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How to tell the difference between persuasion and manipulation - Robert Noggle | Aeon Ideas

How to tell the difference between persuasion and manipulation - Robert Noggle | Aeon Ideas

https://aeon.co/ideas/how-to-tell-the-difference-between-persuasion-and-manipulation

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Key Ideas

Forms of manipulation

We are continually subject to manipulation. For instance:

  • Gaslighting: It involves encouraging someone to doubt their own judgment and to rely on the manipulator's advice instead.
  • Guilt trips: Making someone feel overly guilty for failing to do what the manipulator wants him/her to do.
  • Peer pressure: Caring so much about the manipulator's approval that she/he will obey the manipulators' wishes.

Manipulation

Manipulation often harms. Manipulative phishing and other scams make identity theft possible; manipulative social tactics can support unhealthy relationships.

Manipulation is wrong because it involves immoral techniques. It means treating the other as mere objects and not as a rational being.

When influence is manipulative

Influence is manipulative depending on how it is being used.

If the manipulator attempts to get someone to adopt what the manipulator himself regards as wrong, it resembles lying. The liar tries to get you to choose a false belief or to make a mistake in what he thinks, feels, doubts or pays attention to.

When influence is persuasion

Sometimes, influences can improve the other person’s decision-making situation by leading her to believe, doubt, feel or pay attention to the right things.

What matters in identifying manipulation is the intention of the person using it - whether the influence is being used to put the other person into a better or a worse position to make a decision.

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  • The ‘foot-in-the-door’ technique consists of making a small and reasonable request, which then leads into a larger request. The initial appeal we supposed to make you feel more comfortable and invested in cooperating.
  • The ‘door-in-the-face’ technique consists of making a big request, having it rejected, then making a smaller one. Following the larger request, the smaller appeal seems reasonable comparatively.
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Common Types Manipulators

The two most common types of manipulators are bullies and “victims”.

Bullies make you feel fearful and might use aggression, threats and intimidation to control you, while “victims” engenders a feeling of guilt in their target by acting hurt when denied something.

Gaslighting

The term refers to manipulation that gets people to question themselves, their reality, memory or thoughts. Gaslighters twist what you say and make it about them, hijacking the conversation or making you feel like you’ve done something wrong when you haven’t.

Gaslighted people often feel a false sense of guilt or defensiveness, as if they failed completely or did something wrong when they didn’t.

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Manipulation by passive and covert aggression
Manipulation by passive and covert aggression
  • Passive-aggression is an indirect way to go on the offensive. An example is when someone tries to "get you back" by resisting cooperation and giving you the "...
What a covert aggressive looks like
  • They pretend to be innocent, ignorant, or confused when they did something awful. This tactic is to make you question your judgment.
  • They don't give a straight answer to a straight question, but evade the question or change the subject when cornered.
  • They lie by omission or distortion by deliberately being vague.
  • They may either respond with charm and flattery, of will suddenly be angry.
  • They'll play the victim and make themselves out to be the one in distress.
  • They rationalize by giving a plausible excuse for engaging in inappropriate behavior, or they will downplay their behavior.
  • Covert aggressives don't feel bad, but they know you do. They will send you on a guilt trip so you will lighten your accusations.
How to deal with a covert-aggressive person
  • Let go of the pretense that if you play nice, they will play nice.
  • Know your vulnerabilities and focus on the one thing that really needs to change: yourself. You can only control what you do.
  • Set some boundaries for yourself. Be prepared for the consequences and set a support system.
  • Memorize the list of tactics used by an aggressive person. Then it is easier to recognize the attack.
  • If you're willing to accept an excuse, know that they will fling excuses at you until one stick.
  • Stay calm and polite, and avoid sarcasm, hostility, or threats.
  • Without being rude, be specific about what you expect or want from the other person. Aggressives will only participate if they can get something out of it. If they have to lose, they'll make sure you go down too. Ensure you propose win-win solutions
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Combining time pressure and opportunity is a potent sales tactic. Think of the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales (time pressure) that lead us to spend more than we typically would on things (the opportunity).

It is easier to manipulate people when they feel under pressure and don't have the time to consider the facts.

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Conviction Bias

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We hold on to an idea that is secretly pleasing to us, but deep inside we might have some doubts as to its truth and so we go an extra mile to convince ourselves — to believe in it with great vehemence, and to loudly contradict anyone who challenges us.

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