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What is the Difference Between Influence and Manipulation

04.03 - What is the Difference Between Influence and Manipulation
Interestingly enough I often think about my jobs as trying to get the leadership team to work together. At Morgan Stanley we have an operating committee that runs the firm. And the head of HR I’ve never been on the operating committee. And I had really tried to use my influencing skills to get on that committee. And not for me as an individual, it wasn’t about an ego. It was feeling a need to be at the table. And what I say to people often is, I don’t necessarily understand the technical content, but I can watch that table and watch that room. And figure out who’s manipulating, who’s influencing, who’s leading from a position of real compelling reason?
I’d say, those that manipulate or have motives that are more individually driven. And sometimes, I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. So, I don’t even wanna say individually driven. But they believe they’re approach is the right approach, and they try to manipulate. And I’d say in an organization like ours, it’s like a flashing red light on your forehead, people see manipulation for what it is, can it work? Sure, and here’s where I see it working sometimes. When you’ve got a group of people that are a decision making body, you need allegiances and alliances, and while we have an approach, that you go in that room and you discuss an issue.
I was under the impression when I joined the group that if you have an issue, you just go walk in the room and we can have some tough debate, but we always walk out of the room aligned. But what I realized was the importance of alliances and catalysts. So, if you walk in a room where you’re trying to influence and your passion for it is pure, it’s not manipulative. And one person in the room who is influential, or has a negative reaction, others will ignore their individual feeling about the situation. It’s kind of like the electoral system in this [LAUGH] country, it doesn’t make sense. But people will attach themselves to others in group decision making.
And so, I found it really useful, well, time consuming, to walk into a big room with some alliances. Because if you have people that are willing to genuinely support you, others will follow. So, I think people can see through manipulation. And I think people can see through people with clean intent. But I do think people will vote in blocks. And I think people will make decisions before they even have a conversation. And so, the goal of the dialogue is how can you present a set of facts in a way that people are open enough to actually listen to them?
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