Manipulating people
BUSINESS MATTERS BEYOND THE BOTTOM LINE - Francis J. Kong (The Philippine Star) - November 17, 2019 - 12:00am

I have worked with people who are great to work with. I have also worked with those whose mindset is constantly focused on their favorite radio station: WIIFM “What’s in it for me?” These kinds of people cultivate relationships, network with people and associate with others for the sole purpose of getting the most for themselves as much as they can and as long as they could. These are manipulators. Shrewd. -- From the outside they look gentle, harmless and charming but on the inside lies a potential viper ready to strike. And as sad and as embarrassing as it is to admit, by the time I recognize their motives I have been taken for a ride and taken advantage of. Some manipulations are subtle while others are obvious.

I speak in big events. At certain times some people who would come to me after the talk, lavish me with generous compliments, tells me how much I inspire them to become speakers and writers; pulls out a book they have written as a gift but wanted me to pose for a selfie as if I was endorsing their books. There are the obvious ones while others are subtle. Some people who have broken business relationships with me would in front of the audience say how they were mentored by me and to provide an impression as if we are still together. This is so irritating but then I would not even accept this as a compliment because it is dishonest. Other forms of business manipulation are for people to get company accounts, pretending that they are still associated with our company, banked on our credibility without ever disclosing the fact that they are no longer with us. What an actual case of misrepresentation and they actually get away with this because clients trust them; until they no longer do. The stories are endless, but the question is: “Are you being manipulated too?”

Manipulation is forcing, pushing or even persuading for a change that benefits the one doing it and not us. The key ingredient for manipulation is misinformation. Manipulators are experts in mixing half-truths with none-truths or withholding certain crucial parts of the information in order to create an impression and deceive people. These are the shrewdest of them all. When found out they will claim that they never “lied.” But they certainly did not disclose the whole truth in the first place.

Technology today is also used in manipulation. Some tricks are so subtle as to get you to click or as expensive as signing on to an agreement with the digital fine print so fine and so massive you get tired of reading and you just click “I agree” to your regret later.

Look at the news cycle. The proliferation of bad news repeats itself throughout the day such that it has placed us in a constant state of fear and anxiety thinking that everything is unsafe.

Consider the subtle push of marketers persuading us that without their products our hair gets dryer, our face gets more wrinkles, we get uglier and our eyebrows miss out on life and make us feel inadequate. While politicians, unethical marketers, editors of newsfeeds, hucksters and hustlers make it their life’s purpose and derive meaning from manipulating people every day, we need some practical ways to resist these exploitations.

This would not be extensive, and I certainly am not an expert in this area as I still fall prey to trusting people too much and gets to be manipulated once in a while. Perhaps through my past lessons and experiences the following ideas would help equip you with the ability to recognize manipulations before making decisions.

1. Realize that most decisions made are influenced by our emotions.

So, ask ourselves how this proposal, offer, announcement or information make us feel? Too good to be true? Perhaps. That bad really? Maybe not.

2. Is the messenger using pressure to push us to make a decision?

One of the wisest things I have read about decision making is this: “If you want me to make an immediate decision now, then the decision is NO!”

3. Does the messenger carry the track record of dependence and reliability.

Has there been times in the past when he or she has over-promised and has been short on delivery? Is the messenger trustworthy?

4. Does the news, offer or proposal touch a personal hot button that triggers fear as it is designed to do so?

Do I sense fear and anxiety as a result of this news? Then this means we need to check out the veracity of the news.

5. Think worst case scenario.

How would I feel, what would I lose if I discovered that the proposition stands to benefit the manipulator and puts me in a position of disadvantage?

With these questions we still may be manipulated but at least we would be a little bit prepared than to be surprised and scared out of our wits. Pray for wisdom and discernment. The world is full of people whose love for themselves far outweighs their desire for truth, honor and trustworthiness. Nicholas Taleb says this: “Half of the people lie with their lips; the other half with their tears.” Don’t be a part of this equation and we just have to be careful.

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