Do you ever find your self in a situation where you question your self and ask, “Am I crazy? Is it me?”
Manipulation versus Influence the difference is very subtle; however, there is a difference.
Influence and manipulation are clearly related as they both can contain elements of subterfuge and dishonesty, but the difference lies in the intention of the engineer. Influence respects the target’s well-being and health. Manipulation is not often hindered by these concerns.
When you are led by a leader that manipulates you versus influences, you will almost always not feel quite right about the situation. You may question your sanity and thought process and almost always feel confused about the situation. I know this because I recognize this feeling immediately because this has happened to me a few times in my life. When this happens It can derail you and your confidence can be shaken.
My ex-husband was good at this, and I was left, always feeling confused and doubted my self, and if what I believed to be right was at all.
This is easier to spot in our personal relationships; however, in a working relationship with our boss or peer, it can be ever so slight it may not be easy to spot. Being manipulated can put us on a downward spiral to self-doubt and defensiveness, and we can question our abilities and talent. It can make us feel like literally, we are losing our minds. We can become less confident communicators and feel like what we are saying doesn’t make sense.
Also, the leader that is manipulating others to get the outcome they want may not label it as such. Leadership is influencing, nothing more nothing less, as John C. Maxwell says. Their manipulating behaviours get disguised in influencing skills. They may even believe that what they are doing is exercising excellent influencing skills. If you were to talk to them, they are always strategizing how to get the outcome they want by finding approaches that convince others to question their confidence. They may even discuss with you strategies to get the result they want and think that it is best. Managing performance versus managing people’s character is a very different perspective. Think about this when you are trying to get your people to move, agree or accept what you are asking them to do.
Influencing others takes trust and the ability to help others see for themselves the benefits of taking action or agreeing to something. When I had to deliver a message to my team that I needed to gain their buy-in, I shared the benefits and a convincing statement. Still, I would also discuss why and answer as many questions they may have to help them understand what we needed to do together as a team.
Leadership can be difficult. People are not cookies, and the more we understand this, the easier it becomes to accept that we may be challenged about our decisions and strategies. I prefer my team to challenge me then go along with something that they don’t believe in fear of getting in trouble for not following the direction set.
So how do you know you have crossed the line of manipulation versus influence?
When you find yourself thinking about how to change the narrative for others on a situation, if you have to shape the way someone sees a situation to control the outcome, even if you think you are doing it for someone’s benefit, then you may be manipulating them if you are finding yourself not being 100 % honest about a situation to get the other person to follow. And if you find yourself thinking about how to get others to see the faults in others from your perspective, not their own.
It is ok to influence people for their own benefit, however, if what you are doing is not benefiting that persons well being, then you may have crossed the line. Being sincere and genuine in your leadership matters.
If you are feeling confused or doubting yourself, then you may have a leader that is manipulating you.
After my divorce, I was seeking help to deal with it. I remember saying to my therapist “I could never speak my mind and felt like I was stupid, and what I had to say didn’t make sense, so I thought I had not been honest with how I felt in the situation. ” He turned to me and said remember this, it takes two people, and if you could not speak your mind, it was because he did not create a safe space for you to speak your mind.
This was a good reminder; the same goes for leadership.
When we feel confused and not clear and can’t explain ourselves, this means the other person is not helping either. This could be intentional or not; however, when you find yourself in a situation where you may feel this way, here is a way to deal with it.
- Say I am confused right now, can you please tell me what you just said.
- Why are you telling me this?
- I am not clear on what you are asking me.
- If you think that’s a good idea, go ahead and let me know the outcome.
- I need time to digest this.
- I am not sure give me some time to reflect. We can talk later.
- I am not sure why you think like that.
- I do not see it that way; however, I am not trying o change your view.
- That is not what I heard.
- I would appreciate it if we could stop discussing this and review it later.
- What do you need from me?
- Why are you telling me this?
- I do not agree.
- I am confused in this conversation please explain what you mean.
Just remember nobody should make you feel confused or question your own abilities and thinking. It is fine to be questioned and challenged this is a part of a healthy relationship. But if someone makes you wonder who and what you believe in, then take a step back and ask yourself, are you being influenced or manipulated?