Communication, Power & Manipulation
Lessons of Life © Kosjenka Muk
I notice, from time to time, books and workshops that are advertised with bombastic promises such as: ‘ take control in all communications’, ‘get people to do things you want them to do’, ‘ develop magnetic attraction’ and so on.
Everything we do influences other people, even without our knowing or meaning to, so that the authors of such books say: since we are already doing this, why then not do this in order to gain some benefit for ourselves?
In one article about a man who holds workshops for men on attracting women I read amongst other things his comment that there are ways in which a man may encourage the woman he desires to be self-confident or that by using specific words he can suggest that she is spontaneous, has an adventurous spirit, is relaxed, etc. and that there is nothing negative about this.
The art of communication is incredibly important in human relations because with careless communication we can create a number of misunderstandings and problems. Often, though, there is a thin line between the conscious use of communication techniques in order to improve relations and communications, and to influence other people to do things we want them to do but which perhaps are not what they truly want to do, or, what is even more common, when they are not even aware of our intentions.
For example, parents who know of communication techniques with their children often don’t use them in an honest attempt to understand what their children want and feel, but to control their behavior. In the former example, such techniques are used in order to attain sex or have a short fling without disclosing one’s true intentions. They may also be used to get the other person to fall in love with you before they have had the opportunity to get to know your true personality and are able to judge how much they really like you.
Promoters of the use of the art of communication who aim to control others would say that we are actually doing them good, in particular if we have succeeded in making the other person really want to behave in this way, or feel better about himself. This idea, however, is a disrespectful attitude and implies that we know what is good for that person better than he himself knows. This is an egotistical and immature viewpoint even in a parent – child relationship, and especially in relation to another adult person.
Honesty & Intimacy
Even if we believe we are doing good for the other person we have to ask ourselves whom are we satisfying or do we have a clear conscience knowing that we have influenced another person without their knowledge? Is it possible to do this with respect toward the other person if we through purposeful control automatically place him in the position of a weaker, manipulated person?
In such a relationship honesty and closeness are unlikely to occur. Still, from another point of view, is it at all possible to influence another person with their full knowledge and agreement when we often don’t know ourselves how we influence others?
Probably, the more you attempt to hide from the other person that you are trying to influence her, the more you do this from a disrespectful position. Communication techniques are most honest and respectful if we can apply them without hiding our intentions. I personally, for my own integrity, favor adhering to approaches which are not designed to awaken certain emotions or methods of communication, but rather to help another person to consciously and independently consider their own and my viewpoints.
The need for power is within all people. We desire to shine outwardly, be attractive to others, feel more powerful; for all of us these are very attractive images and it is easy to find justification in our attempt to achieve them. The question that we rarely put forward is why do we feel the need to do this?
What internal feeling is missing that makes us seek these reassurances in such a manner? Why do we feel sufficiently worthy solely when we feel special or better than others? Working on our own feelings of self-esteem rather than on outer signs of success may save us not only years but decades of effort.
Furthermore, external success cannot create long-term feelings of self-love. This love must come from within rather than from without. Then it is a feeling that is incomparably better than the feeling of power over others. When this is achieved, you will most probably discover that others will value and love you more honestly than you could achieve through the use of any type of trickery.