How To Persuade Without Manipulating-Bob Burg

Successful sales professionals persuade. They don’t manipulate.
I’m often asked to explain the difference between the two. Actually, it tends to take more the form of a challenge, as in, “Aren't persuasion and manipulation the same thing?”

And, it’s a good, legitimate question. After all, in both cases you are attempting to elicit an individual or group to think or do something they would not presumably think or do without your influence.
Persuasion and manipulation are — in a sense — cousins (i.e., good cousin and evil cousin). After all, both are based on certain principles of human nature, human action and interaction.

Good persuaders and good manipulators understand those principles and know how to effectively use them. That’s why there is perhaps nothing more dangerous than a bad person with good people skills.
Yes, the principles are similar; often even the same. In actuality, however, the results are as different as night and day. The big difference is the intent. In his magnificent 1986 book, The Art of Talking so That People Will Listen, Dr. Paul Swets provided an outstanding explanation regarding both intent and outcome. 
He wrote:
“Manipulation aims at control, not cooperation. It results in a win/lose situation. It does not consider the good of the other party. Persuasion is just the opposite. In contrast to the manipulator, the persuader seeks to enhance the self-esteem of the other party. The result is that people respond better because they are treated as responsible, self-directing individuals.”

Different intentions, different results

The persuader aims to serve; the manipulator, to hurt. Or, if not necessarily intending to hurt, certainly not caring if that occurs. The manipulator is simply so focused on him or herself and his or her own self-interest that — like any other totally self-serving organism — they do only what they feel is for their own benefit and, if someone must suffer as a result, then so be it.
What they don’t realize is that not only is this not good life practice — it’s not good business practice.

A manipulator can have employees, but never a team.
She can have customers, but rarely one that will be long-lasting and a source of referrals. And, once discovered, the manipulator’s customer-base tends to crumble like a stale cookie.
He can have friends and family, but rarely are these relationships fulfilling and happy.
Yes, both persuaders and manipulators know the how and why of human motivation. And, both use their knowledge to cause the action they desire a person to take. However, the crucial difference between the two is that while manipulators use that knowledge to their advantage only, the persuader uses it to the other person’s advantage.
Ultimately, your influence and ability to persuade is determined by how abundantly you place other people’s interests first.

Bob Burg is co-author of the national bestseller "The Go-Giver” as well as the new "The Go-Giver Leader" and "Endless Referrals." A highly sought-after speaker at sales and leadership conferences, Burg helps companies and individuals more effectively communicate their value, thus allowing them to sell more at higher prices and with greater profit. He also hosts the popular “The Go-Giver" podcast. Learn more at

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