By Hall of Fame Speaker Connie Podesta
“Me? Manipulative?! No way.” Before you assume this article is NOT about you, keep reading.
We enter many of our conversations with desired outcomes. We want to get the project approved. Or land the big client. Or convince the rest of the family to choose the movie we want to see. Whatever it is, we infuse emotions as a tool to “manage” the course of our conversations. Many times, passion and enthusiasm can pave the road to positive results.
But what happens if those conversation-managing emotions take a darker turn? I’m talking about manipulating others to do what we want by using anger (hostility, irritation and resentment) or hurt (sadness, disappointment and tears).
Have you ever allowed a passionate discussion to bleed over into an angry outburst with yelling? Chances are, the other party experienced some fear during the hostile exchange and caved to your “loud recommendations.” Or perhaps you got so upset that you cried, causing the tear-averse person to feel guilty for prompting those waterworks and giving in to resolve the uncomfortable situation.
Yep. That’s manipulation.
Chances are – no matter how awesome a person you are – you’ve done it. We’ve all done it. It’s human nature. In fact, we all learned this strategy as babies. If we wanted or needed something from our parents, we would cry or scream. They’d show up to meet the need. The crying and screaming would stop. Everyone was happy. Great system!
Unfortunately, some people hang on to that strategy as adults. If they don’t develop healthier patterns for communication and negotiation, they continue to rely on hurt and anger as a way to get the results they want. And when that manipulative behavior seeps into their careers and long-term relationships? It’s annoying. Ineffective. Flat-out damaging.
Be honest. If you have even the slightest tendency to pepper your conversations with anger or hurt, it’s time to quit. Even if it’s unintentional, allowing those two emotions to hijack your messages will seriously undermine your relationships and damage your potential for success.
To get back to healthy interactions, take an assertive stance with the people in your lives. Rethink how you react, speak to, and connect with those around you. Respectful honesty is the best approach. It’s about saying what you mean and meaning what you say.
If you are a parent, you also have the power to make sure your children grow up to become effective communicators. Don’t give in at the first sign of a tantrum or a tear. By refusing to be manipulated by their emotions, you can teach them to approach their relationships in a more mature way.
At any age, filtering the manipulative emotions out of your communication can be difficult. It’s a learned behavior with plenty of reinforcement. I’ll be first in line to tell you that making a change requires practice. Self-awareness. Control. But it’s well worth the effort—and it makes a world of difference!
Watch this to learn more:
You might also want to check out my series The Top 10 Things You Need to Quit to Be a Better Communicator on YouTube.
Could your team members benefit from strong, timely communication skills with a serious psychology spin? Want to help them listen more effectively and develop stronger connections with clients, colleagues and customers? Give me a call! I’ve got just the right keynote topic for your next event.