Persuasion is not manipulation.
If a connection between those words crosses your mind, I want you to break that connection – and I’ve got about 400 words in this space to persuade you.
From the Merriam Webster online dictionary . . .
– to move by argument, entreaty, or expostulation to a belief, position, or course of action
– to control or play upon by artful, unfair, or insidious means especially to one’s own advantage
– to change by artful or unfair means so as to serve one’s purpose
Do you see the difference? Inherent in the definition of manipulate is the idea that the communication or action is all about the first party – the manipulator. That idea isn’t in the definition of persuasion at all.
My personal definition of persuasion (which is why, in my view, this is a skill needed by leaders) would extend beyond the dictionary definition to make it clear that it isn’t manipulation, but that it is to move others to a position or course of action that is in everyone’s best interests – you and the person/group you are persuading.
Until you have this view of persuasion, you will be hampered in your success as an influencer of others. You might have some small part of your brain/psyche that is pulling back, not being persistent, and ultimately being less persuasive.
Why is there this “yes, but” voice in many people’s heads?
It could be popular opinion, the desire for free will, the bad reputation sales has (do you see the best sales people as persuaders or manipulators?), or just lazy thinking.
It doesn’t matter where the hesitation comes from, if we want to lead successfully, we must understand the importance of and hone our skills as a persuader.
When you care about your team members and want them to see a view of the future that is different and beneficial to them, you are in the best position to start your persuading, because now you aren’t persuading from your perspective, but to help them see benefit and value for themselves.
Yes, they may resist, and yes, they may not see the perspective that you see yet, but that is why we must persuade.
Persuade, not manipulate.