How to ethically manipulate people for your own benefit

How to ethically manipulate people for your own benefit

I know many people get squeamish about influence tactics. It feels wrong, as if you’re manipulating people for your own purposes. Only con artists, sleazy creeps, ruthless businesspeople and the worst politicians manipulate others.


I’ve a truckload of bad news for anyone who believes this.

If you breathe, you’re manipulating someone.

When you smile and greet someone, that changes their thinking. That psychological hack gets them to like you more, even if you’re not doing anything for them.

How manipulative.

Even if you stop doing that, you’re still using mind control. Whether you ignore someone or pay attention to them, you’re influencing their thoughts.

There’s no escaping it. You could become a hermit and still influence anyone who hears about it.

So you could feel off about the whole topic.

But you might as well embrace it.

In fact, if you want a list of ways to manipulate people for your benefit, here’s one:

Imagine a friend comes to you, miserable. Another of their relationships has imploded. As you sit down together, they say that they’ll never find true love.

You know that they’re amazing. They’re not thinking straight right now. So you manipulate them into feeling good and optimistic.

Another friend talks about their new business idea. They have the talent and drive to pull this off, but they’re afraid of failing. So you manipulate them into a state of confidence.

A customer comes to you with the wrong idea in mind. You manipulate them into understanding your product or service better. In fact, you’re so manipulative they (gasp!) happily pay you and recommend you to their friends.

Here’s the rub, folks.

If you want to live and not just exist, then you have to influence people.

Yes, for your own benefit.

You’ve done this since you were a baby squealing for milk, so don’t act all pious now.

But there’s an important caveat on this, folks. If you have the urge to become a con artist, then keep reading.

You can manipulate people for you own benefit. They’ll thank you for it. They’ll sing your praises and build your monuments. You’ll do good work and leave a powerful legacy.

If, and only if, you manipulate people for their benefit too.

There’s nothing wrong with influencing someone to help them. If you get something out of it too… well, that’s life.

And it’s commerce. Is it manipulative to pay someone for a thing you want? Isn’t that just another form of selfish influence?

It sure is. Everyone benefits, though.

Stop worrying about your own behaviour and start focusing on your impact. If you serve people, then who cares about some metaphysics debate about the ethics of influence.

Become a better person and be more useful. You’ll do far more good in the world than any navel-gazing could create. Action creates results, like hitting the gym to get ripped.

Or like training your mind to unlock genius.

It’s time to double your impact. You’re not going to do that with the thinking that got you here, though.

If you’re ready for a mental upgrade, then your next step is to keep reading:

Photo by Brina Blum on Unsplash

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