Certain words carry with them deep meanings and feelings. The very utterance of those powerful words can create an emotional response in a person, a group, an audience, or even the world. Oftentimes our subconscious mind picks up the word even if our conscious mind seems to have glossed over it.

Recently, I was reviewing a free series of training videos with the end goal of the provider desiring to sign up the viewers for a coaching program (I knew this was the reason for the videos when I began to watch them). I learned some great things in the first video and was really excited about the material. When I got midway through the third video, the presenter answered the following question that supposedly came from those watching the videos:

If you could only pick one strategy to move people to action, what would you pick?”

Here is the full response verbatim given to answer the question (I purposefully left out the company name and the highlights are mine):

“That’s easy: manipulation. Now the thing is, manipulation has a very negative connotation to it, so I want to tell you what I tell my ****** clients. If you really have something that can help people in their business or their lives, then I really believe it is your responsibility to make sure you do whatever you can to help them say “yes.” Otherwise, they are going to be circling around and they’re going to need help for this for a really long time, and eventually they’re going to find someone else who will come up with your knowledge or your products or your services, who will finally serve them.

I believe to the bottom of my soul if we can help people, we need to do everything we can to serve them and give them what they truly want, nothing more than what they want, but nothing less either. So when we move people with that level of integrity, then (the) manipulation we are using is what I call ‘ethical manipulation.’ And that is the most important thing you can do to move people to action.

When you hear the word “manipulation,” what vibe does that word give off? Would you agree with the presenter that it has a “very negative connotation?” As soon as I heard the person say that it was the one strategy they would pick, I cringed. The presenter then tries to justify the use of this negative word as if they know what is best for the person to whom they are selling their product and services. It is all for the “ethical” purpose for the potential buyer to say “yes” to their product or service before they find it from the competition. This reminds me of a movie my wife and I watched recently:

Tangled 

Disney’s version of the story of Rapunzel, who was kidnapped as a baby and manipulated by Mother Gothel to believe the tower was the only safe place for Rapunzel to live, when in fact it was the only place where Mother Gothel could get what she wanted while hindering Rapunzel from choosing a life of her own.

After deciding that I would NOT EVER buy any of the presenter’s materials or services after hearing that statement, I listened to the final free video realizing that this would be the final pitch for their services. The presenter outlined the six-week online coaching course that was all based on “Ethical Manipulation.” They chose to use this philosophy as the basis of their success and the success you could have, too, when you learn the steps of “Ethical Manipulation.” The cost of the program was revealed with free bonuses “worth over $250,000.” Yeah, after hearing the word “manipulation” so much, my subconscious mind devalued every add-on to the coaching course.

Here is the takeaway for you and I as leaders: To lead positive change in people’s lives, you don’t have to manipulate. Be thorough in what you teach, present, and share so that people can make their own decisions. As people get to know you, like you, and trust you, you don’t have to manipulate them to buy your products or services or follow after you as a leader. They will naturally come to you because of the relationship you chose to build on honesty. And when you provide MORE value than what they want or anticipate, not this “nothing more than what they want,” you will win over the competition every time.

Also remember that your choice of words will have an impact either positively or negatively on people be it consciously or subconsciously. Choose your words wisely to make the impact you desire.

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Comments
  1. Greg Zander, Cultural Architect says:

    I was reminded of an article that my friend, Bob Burg, wrote in 2010. http://www.burg.com/2010/08/persuasion-vs-manipulation/