Distinguishing between persuasion and manipulation can be challenging, as they are often employed in similar contexts. Yet despite this fine line, there are major differences between them.

Persuade and manipulate, what is the difference?

A persuader looks at the situation as a whole, including everyone involved, and is open to discuss all necessary aspects. A manipulator strives to achieve a goal, tries to convince people that his point of view is correct, and exerts influence on their perception or behavior.

Is persuading always a positive action?

Persuasion can be beneficial, but manipulation is not! Sometimes in the business world leaders try to influence their employees or potential customers by convincing them of the usefulness of their idea or product/service. So far there is nothing wrong with that. However, when the influence becomes selfish and serves only to achieve personal goals we are faced with manipulation.

Persuasion is not inherently problematic, as it enables us to act with intentionality and conviction. When promoting a service or proposing an organizational change, it is crucial to have faith in the advantages of these decisions. This is the first step to assertively argue and objectively show the advantages of a possible change or the acquisition of a service.

How can empathy be useful in the persuasive process?

Through empathy we can improve our ability to understand the other person, that is, what the other person is experiencing and feeling, allowing us to make adjustments as communication happens. The more empathy is created with an individual, the easier it will be to communicate with each other.

Persuasion is built around consistent work that requires solutions to unmet needs. The gain is obvious for everyone involved. Contrarily, manipulation seeks individual and quick, albeit unstable, results.

Let’s think about Gandhi, one of the greatest political leaders of the 20th century. His unceasing advocacy for human rights can be considered an excellent example of persuasion. His influence allowed thousands of people to change their beliefs and attitudes for the greater good — freedom and fundamental rights.

Good leaders have skills related to responsibility, creativity, proactivity, and, of course, influence. A competent leader is one who is able to put forward his or her ideas, inspiring and motivating his or her employees.

A persuasive leader inspires confidence and fosters in employees a sense of commitment to the goals to be achieved. This commitment increases engagement and effort devoted to tasks, requiring less monitoring, as well as strengthening teamwork.

Remember, to persuade is to influence responsibly, with win-win as the main objective!

A boss manipulates, while a leader persuades.

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