September 22, 2022

Who is Persuading You?

My last blogged looked at why we get persuaded or why we may even let ourselves get persuaded.  It seems equally important to consider why others would want to persuade us.

Most of us want what we want, the way we want it, from whom we want it and when we want it.  That’s just human nature.  That by itself doesn’t make someone bad or manipulative or uncaring about your feelings and needs.  

What is the difference between persuasion and manipulation?

If I make a compelling case and persuade you to see something from my perspective, that likely suites me and my agenda.  In my opinion, the only difference between the two is the conation of the words and perhaps the spirit behind each one.  

Earlier today, a therapist friend called me with an ethical question about CPS reporting.  My friend knew the answer was to report but someone else had countered her argument with such conviction that it caused my friend to question what she knew to be true.  I don’t think the other person was intentionally being misleading.  In fact, I think that person was convincing themselves just as much as my friend to keep from being wrong themselves.  

We see this A LOT in human behavior.  Think about a Ponzi scheme.  Something will sound too good to be true but people wanting to invest well and get ahead financially, will allow themselves to be persuaded (or manipulated) and they may even persuade others as well.  It is easier to believe things we want to believe than things that cause harm/pain/discomfort.  


People will basically persuade you for one of two reasons; they believe it is their best interest or they believe it’s in yours.  On rare occasions it could be both. 

For example, the person creating a Ponzi scheme wants your money.  They need to convince you that they have mastered some sort of principle or market that no one else has ever tapped into and they are doing you a favor to let you in on the deal.  For their scheme to work, you need to be eager to give them the money so they will either act like you have no time to think and/or asking questions makes you a jerk/loser.  They need to keep you from thinking too deeply so that you will give them the money they want.

On the other hand, someone who cares for you may want to you to see things their way as they believe your life will truly get better if you do.  This happens an infinite number of times between parents and kids, it happens in romantic relationships and friendships.  

Imagine telling your kids about all the ills that could befall them if they don’t brush and floss their teeth regularly.  You’re attempting to persuade them for good reason.  You want them to be healthy (you would also like to avoid big dental bills) and getting them on board, will be good for everyone involved.  

This one can slide into codependent territory too.  Imagine your best friend is in a relationship you think isn’t good enough for them so you try to get them to see it the way you do.  Your motives are good but you can’t decide how your friend choses to live their life and you could accidently do harm to the relationship.  

Persuasion isn’t bad unto itself but it is really important that we think through who is planting ideas in our heads and if they are actually serving us.  It is just as important to go a step farther and think about what we are attempting to persuade others to do.  Do you have the right to ask someone to live in a way that doesn’t feel true to themselves?

As always, I’m here.  If you are ready to work on having the life you want, call me and let’s get started!

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