It is not the same to persuade, than to manipulate

20, 2021

7 min read

This article was translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors may exist due to this process.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Sales, investments, business, public relations. Life itself. Every day we are faced with endless situations in which we must use communication to convince or persuade other people to make a decision that may be key to our project.

A simple Google search for courses and sales books returns approximately 250 million results. After all, all businesses need to sell, and all entrepreneurs are salespeople at heart : they are synergy creators, team builders, and natural advertisers.

But beware! Many courses, books, and so-called sales and persuasion experts offer techniques and systems that, rather than actual communication, consist of forms of manipulation or deception to “fall” your customers , partners or team into the trap, and get them to do what that you want, regardless of whether they want or need it.

Is there a difference? Isn’t persuading the same as manipulating? Isn’t all marketing a form of deception? The answer is categorical: it is not.

1. Persuasion considers the other; manipulation uses it


Communication requires human connection and is based on the concept of ethos : on the authority and trust that exists between two people , and therefore allows the flow of information. This, of course, implies that there are at least two people in a communication process.

These two people are worth the same; they have the same dignity and the same rights, regardless of their position. There is no way to turn this around: lying is bad, stealing is bad, and there is no universe where cheating people is an acceptable end of business.

Perhaps you are being too dreamy or idealistic. There will always be people who make money by cheating; But here’s the thing: I believe that you too, like me, are a dreamer and an idealist. In the following lines I am going to show you that being ethical is not only “good”, but that it is also good business.

2. Persuasion creates relationships; manipulation, destroys them


Lasting businesses are founded on long-term relationships with your customers. A customer who trusts you will come back constantly, in addition to generating more business through their recommendations with friends and family.

It is possible to manipulate a person for some time, but it will hardly be forever. You have heard it and I confirm it: trust is gained slowly and lost quickly . I go to the same mechanic and contract the same insurance broker for decades, not because they are the best in the world (really, I have no way of knowing), but because I trust them , and because they have paid my trust with confidence, in every occasion.

Business careers, and businesses themselves, are created and grown through human relationships. Don’t destroy them in favor of easy profit.

3. Persuasion builds teams; manipulation, wars


Manipulative people believe that they are always in the lead, and that they have managed to discover the “secret” or “system” that allows them to get away with it every time. But his secret is simple, and it is simply called treason.

That’s how it is. It’s called treason. It consists of receiving trust and using it against the very person who has offered it. It is not called being “clever” or “skillful” or “negotiating”: it is called being manipulative. A manipulative person is a toxic poison that ruins teams, companies and businesses.

Manipulators jump from one place to another and apparently achieve quick results, as they use the trusted capital they have to advance their agenda. But before long the air becomes unbreathable, people stop communicating, and business is lost. They always go out the back door, complaining that “as always” they have been cheated. But the manipulators build their own destiny, and they end up alone.

4. Persuasion fuels reputation; manipulation, waste


Robert Cialdini, author of the best-selling Pre-Suasión , who is dedicated to developing persuasive communication systems for individuals and businesses, always advises his clients to use techniques with an impeccable moral compass. “Companies that lie soon run out of customers and investors”, and not only that, but they create within themselves an environment where everyone lies.

When official politics and business leaders behave in manipulative ways, they soon find that the entire management and operating ladder is jumping on the boat. Such was the notorious case of ENRON, where each level of management, sales, production and accounting learned that it was easier to manipulate their results to obtain bonuses, than to face the immediate consequences. In the end, the consequences were much, much more serious.

5. Persuasion creates wealth; manipulation, false wealth (i.e. corruption)


There are no “magic” businesses. There are no “easy” businesses. The prisons and the streets are full of people who decided to take the easy way ; that of lies, betrayal or fraud.

They always start with a small thing, that doesn’t seem like a lie. “The check is already on its way”, “I’m sure I’ll have it for you tomorrow.” “Yes, your car needs a new part.” Soon this little thing becomes a habit, and a habit in destiny.

“Everyone does it”, “it is normal”, “nothing happens”, “how exaggerated”, are the mantras of manipulative people who create manipulative companies; These in turn make up manipulative societies that elect manipulative governments. Before we know it, we find ourselves immersed in a culture where everyone lies, everyone abuses, and also… they celebrate!

If you think that telling the truth is expensive, I invite you to consider what lying costs us. Institutionalized corruption in businesses and governments in our country costs 200 billion pesos each year, or up to 10% of our GDP. And that’s just the economic cost. The human, social and cultural cost is incalculable.

And it all starts with a manipulative mantra: “Who is going to notice?”

Communication can be the best ally of your career and your business. Used well, with truth as a sword and dignity as a shield, it can elevate your sales and your reputation to global levels. Learn to sell and persuade with a wide views strategy. The manipulation? Leave it to the losers. You are neither (nor do you want to be) one of them.

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