The 3 most manipulative things people say

We are all manipulative.

Humans, by our selfish, life-sustaining, social-dependant nature are very manipulative.

Especially in the marketing industry.  The reality is we work with so many different personalities, egos and cultures that we lose sight over the bigger picture - the right answer.  We’ve stopped communicating directly.  Extroverts know this and take advantage of it; while introverts hide behind passive-aggressive stabs in the dark.

We’ve spent too long in bullshit management and pseudo-psychology sessions learning how to listen and communicate ‘properly’.

It needs to stop.  We need to teach the next generation of managers and leaders to be direct, constructive and genuine.  There is so much bullshit in the industry and heaping on a layer of poor communication is counter-productive.

Here are top 3 most manipulative conversation triggers.  Each time you hear one of these, make sure you’re not being conned out of the right answer.

Look

“Look, the client only wants to pay $5.”

The undoubtable and pseudo-objective opinion stopper.  What a bullshit closer that is to a conversation.  If you are empowered to make a call, do it.  If you’re not, then provide some basic evidence for your point of view.    It works.

I feel

“I feel like maybe it should be blue.”

The passive-aggressive, my-feelings-matter-but-your-professional-opinion-doesn’t, to disagree while discouraging negative feedback.  This is the default response of two generations of Gen-Y and Gen-Z who think we care what you feel.  Sorry not sorry. Got an opinion? Share it and rationalise it.

To be honest

“To be honest, I think what the client really wants is a colonoscopy.”

Faaaark you.  Really.  The most condescending  “I’ve been hiding my Godly understanding of the situation but will now reveal it for you simpletons.”  It reeks of unfounded opinion-expressed-as-fact while at the same time making you feel guilty for forcing the other party to be ‘honest’.

My favourite combination:

“Look, we’re going to have to cancel the colonoscopy.  And to be honest, and I’m being very transparent here, I feel that the client wants you to walk his dog every afternoon.”

 

Jye Smith is currently Senior Vice President, Head of Strategy & Operations, Asia Pacific at Weber Shandwick. Ranked in B&Ts 30 Under 30, Jye a regular keynote speaker and workshop facilitator who specialises in digital and social media strategist.

There are 2 comments for this article
  1. Michael at 6:11 pm

    Look, to be honest mate, I feel this is less about manipulation and more about people struggling to be direct, certainly in the case of the last two examples. This often due to a fear of confrontation or a lack of confidence in one’s opinion. I often use the last two examples and have no problem with that. The first I only started using – have stopped now – after working with an Aussie who started every sentence with “look”. I never knew it at the time but the bastard was trying to manipulate me ;) In fairness though, ‘look’ is incredibly condescending.

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