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Influence VS Manipulation

Updated: Dec 3, 2021

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To influence? Or to Manipulate?

Some may argue there is no significant difference, but influence is the better of the two. An Organisational Leadership lecturer explains: the balance of influence and manipulation lies in intention. If such behaviour has the intention of benefiting “self”, it is more manipulation; thus vice versa.

As humans, we think. We think a lot. We can be suspicious, and we question authenticity. Even when something “GOOD” happens, we question it.

As humans, we’re not perfect and so we may not be very good at distinguishing truths and facts. We may not be aware that when we are persuading, which side of the balance scale we’re treading on; are we influencing? Or are we being manipulative? Is there confirmation bias? Here, allow me to suggest a film: Rashomon (1950) ; I like how this film presents these questions more in detail and more impressively.

Thunder under Cliff 丨Antelope Canyon丨Kun Lu

Awareness wakes us. Makes us aware of our limitations and blindness during a persuasion situation. Especially during decision making, by having active awareness, we can easily distinguish whether the scale is tipping more towards influence or manipulation.

When persuading with an intention of influence; keep the following questions in mind:

“Would I send the same information if I don't benefit from it?"

" Have I told everything that could involve their benefits?

To avoid being manipulated during persuasion, think, and reflect on how you have been handling information thrown at you. We live in a world full of biases values and intentions. To distinguish, to avoid, and to overcome manipulation or influence; is to treat every information, action or behavior with the same mindset, value, and attitude. Information is no more than information. They are simply a gentle wind that breeze by you and not heavy rocks that you must carry.

Whether its influence or manipulation; see them coming and embrace them all the same, rather than carry them.

Influence or manipulation are external forces. Trees in a pot are never strong against external forces like the wind and storm. Because those trees stand still in their pot and break. But trees planted on the soil ground; they embrace the storms and bent along with the winds.


Book to read: "In a Grove" ------ Ryūnosuke Akutagawa

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