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“Manipulation” Gets a Bad Name

  • March 21, 2017

I just clicked “send” on a message to someone who has influence with those I wish to influence. I didn’t lie. I wasn’t disingenuous. But… I do have an agenda. I don’t click “send” for just anyone.

I put my phone down and walked to grab a snack and started laughing. The “joke” occurred to me. It’s layered but its strike holds truth. That truth is, “manipulation gets a bad name”.

We all have or at least know someone who have fallen victim to a “silver tongued devil”. The beguiling liar that uses our weakness against us to further their evil agenda. And yeah… those entities should be destroyed.

But don’t tell me you never looked at another human with puppy dog eyes for a self-interested purpose. My (nearly) two year old does it and all she wants is a snack!

So to discern some “truth”, as always, I examine the shades of gray (no, bondage metaphors here, that’s for another post). But truly, where does one draw the line where one’s intent is judged malignant?

My answer is simple. You are evil if your intent aligns with evil.


Let’s say you find yourself seeking employment in a less than receptive job market. You’re a demigod wandering the lowly humans who call themselves “professionals”.

You send resume after resume only to be ignored or find yourself in interviews where you’re confident the opposite side of the table doesn’t hear you. You rage as you believe their lens is cloudy. You’d LOVE nothing more than to wipe away the fog (by force if need be) but you know damn well that’s not going to happen.

What do you do?

It’s not quite a “would you steal a loaf of bread to feed your starving family” argument. But, it’s a close cousin.

So you get an interview. How do you answer their questions? Are you brutally honest and hold nothing back? Well, perhaps at first. Perhaps you’re like I was in elementary school when I first heard alcohol is bad. Triggered and ready to fight the crusade that began with your biological father.

Fast forward 20 years and realize, “My father was a saint for not slapping my 10-year-old self in the face”.

If you want to earn a living, you learn to walk the line.

That line is different for everyone. But, ultimately, is all the Internet research you’re doing to improve your interview skills a testament to your wickeness? Not even close.

I believe the “wicked” come by it naturally. The rest of us that have to study.

And sure, the virtuous can fall to the lesser. But if you’re struggling, you’re not them. The somewhat sad bit is you emulate them in a sad attempt to gain their perceived power. But it doesn’t work for you like them. Your power has a very different origin and it is very real.

A Necessary “Evil”

Further, sometimes, we need to be manipulated to be our best.

I’ll say that again. Sometimes… we need to be manipulated.

It’s quite a compliment if you think about it. Someone, hopefully an ally, knows you so well that they consciously pull a string to produce a result. Even if without benefit to you, this isn’t evil by nature. Sometimes, it’s just a way to say, “I need you” without triggering a personal ego boundary. And in fairness to that point, how many “please please please help me” messages should one be expected to suffer? Class it up! You’re not under attack from a virus trying to usurp but another random “germ” trying to survive. (yet again, “germs” will be discussed in another post)

Before this post gets too far off point, I’ll reiterate my original statement, “Manipulation gets a bad name”. More accurately put, “Manipulation is a tool. It’s the intention of the user that deserves judgement.”

I encourage you to study the tool and use it for good.

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