To Manipulate Or Not to Manipulate, That Is the Question

“I’m telling you this with hope in my heart and trust that offering patience to the initiative I’m going to tell you about will create an important and long-awaited change. Before telling you what I’m going to tell you about, thank you for listening to me, as I am sure you will consider my message important. As you think of it, with each word, my message becomes clearer, and you can easily understand what I am saying. So let us find new ways of expressing ourselves… For example, I….”

  

Overcoming public speaking fright

It is said that the second greatest possible fright, except for the one of dying, is the fright of public speaking. Fortunately, I have not met many people afraid to speak in public. Maybe during grade school. Public speaking is a familiar environment for me.

The best exercise I recommend, from my own experience, is getting in front of all while saying to yourself: “In 30 seconds, my mouth will start speaking. It would better say something useful.”. So I did. So will you. Another exercise: how do you think you’d perform if someone had a gun to your head and would tell you: “speak well in public now, or I’ll kill you”? You’d certainly do a better job if you knew your life depends on the quality of your delivery. For some, that IS the case. May they be presenters, trainers, lobbyists, attorneys, diplomats, press releases, or politicians, the quality of their public speaking will determine how much money they will make. But this is not a study of what best public speakers do.

I intend to familiarize you with the truth that everybody speaks in public. Better, worse. But if you think about it, we all had to make a public presentation or address an audience in a one-to-many communication instance. But what are the things to consider before public ethically speaking in HR?

Public speaking is definitely a part of HR persons. Conferences. Board meetings. Employee meetings. Focus-groups. Evaluations. Fairs. Exhibitions. Workshops. Training. All these cannot be avoided.

  

How much good planning makes for an ethical delivery?

The first thing to consider is: “be themselves”. If you address an audience, you must know that audience. Who’s in it, what degree of information they have on the topic you’re speaking about, their interest in it, what kind of questions they will put, etc. It’s a sign of respect towards your message, to each participant in the public, and to the organizers. And also consider, these days, anyone can video/audio record you with a simple phone or mp3 player, not to mention the photos. Then, they can be placed on the internet, tagged with your name, and accessed by anyone for the rest of eternity. You will be remembered if you don’t have respect for all of these. So it’s not only the skills you put into practice but also your values.

Of course, the better job you do on planning your speech of taking care of the surroundings (light, height, noise, distance, temperature, technology settings, etc.), the better you will show respect for your public. These might seem like the organizers’ responsibility. But if you really care about your personal brand, message, and audience, make it your responsibility to triple-check.

Let’s assume you address a public well educated, well-informed, and interested in the subject matter you present. The audience has been pre-selected, and you’ve put specific questions at the beginning to ensure you’re on the same page. Now you’ve got their attention. You have formal authority in the room. From this moment, if you skillfully use your persuasiveness, you can imprint any ideas into their minds. You may masterfully conceive your speech so they would understand and maybe agree to it, at least until a certain point. You may even manipulate them.

Beyond that, it lies the question: what is the line between influencing, persuasion, and manipulation? When does it serve well, and when does it not?

First of all, none of these have negative meanings by themselves. For example, a mother may manipulate her children by saying: “Do you prefer to drink the [bad tasting] medicine from the white cup or the blue cup?” using a double bind to determine an action. Some would not consider this manipulation because, some say, manipulation is always negative. Instead of ranting about the concepts: of responsibility; accountability; life lessons; we’ll do some practice.

(keep reading ↓)

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Let’s return to the fine distinction between influencing, persuading, and manipulating someone. Although there are uncountable ways of doing any of these, let’s just say we want to communicate that using seat belts while driving for all passengers saves lives. A noble idea, don’t you think? We’ll see.

  

Influence

When you start to think about this, you will naturally find what I’m saying to you more and more enjoyable. “Looking at the accident statistics in the USA, in 2004, more persons who did not use a seat belt died in accidents than those who were wearing / although, according to the federal statistics, more than 80% of the drivers use belts. […] Apparently, not wearing the seat belt while driving the car is about the same as having a dagger installed on the driving wheel.”. Before thinking further about how this affects our lives, let us consider all the slight differences that seem minor details, like putting the seat belt on before driving to truly understand the real effect of those seemingly insignificant details. The difference between using and not using your seat belt might be between life and death.

  

Persuasion

Close your eyes. [the light gets dimmer] Imagine yourself riding in a top-notch car on a freeway. [appropriate music] You feel the wind and everything around you. Finally, you get to an intersection. You slow down, but not in due time, and a truck gets into your face from nowhere. You have no time to react. [the lights close] It all went dark. [silence for a few moments]. You just died because you didn’t wear a seat belt [lights open up brightly]. Welcome back!

  

Manipulation.

The light gets dimmer. You present a video of a guy named David with his wife, Molly, and their son, Tommy. They are joyful, playing in the garden. Then you show some pictures of them getting in the family car. Then you put pictures of David, Molly, and Tommy in the morgue. They didn’t use the seat belt. You rapidly shoot some statistics to the people on the big colorful graphics display. In the end, you take a moment in silence, honoring David, Molly, Tommy, and the other thousands of people who lost their lives during the X period in the Y zone, and say a prayer.

 

 

The translated version of this article has been considered the 7th best in quality of all the articles I wrote and published in 2019.

Marcus Victor Grant

Copyright © Marcus Victor Grant 2012-present, all rights reserved.

The materials on this blog are subject to this disclaimer.

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