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When interacting positively with others becomes manipulation

Similar to all of the other “Emotional Intelligence” related topics we have been discussing, there is a potential “dark side” to interacting positively as well. We need to be careful that our attempts at interacting positively don’t end up becoming veiled forms of manipulation. Join me this week as I highlight 3 signs that our attempts at interacting positively might be moving toward manipulation.

  1. Win-Lose vs. Win-Win. While we all have self-interests and it’s important to acknowledge them, we need to keep them “in check” if we are going to continue to interact positively with others. If our attempts to listen and encourage others are done primarily to promote our own agenda or the agenda of our organizations, we may be moving toward manipulation.  If we start to becoming comfortable with win-lose solutions where we benefit from the relationship but the other person ends up “losing” then we have probably crossed the line to manipulation. True positive interactions should mostly result in “win-win” situations. If you want to learn more about this concept, check out more from Stephen and Franklin Covey on “Think Win-Win®”.
  2. Flattery vs. Encouragement. One of the best ways to interact positively with others is to provide genuine encouragement (both verbal and non-verbal). Last week’s post highlighted more specifics about encouragement.  If we find ourselves coming up with over-inflated words of praise and focusing on how wonderful someone is without providing specifics, we may be moving toward flattery which leads to manipulation. Most of us have likely experienced this in one way or another. We may hear words of praise and they seem so great and grand that we start to question the intent…and there is often a good reason to question the intent! Flattery can appear to be encouragement at first but then we start to become a little uncomfortable by how grandiose the praise appears. We start to realize that the other person is saying these things to help themselves look better and to move forward their own agenda more than actually providing genuine encouragement and support in order to generate lasting, positive and mutually beneficial relationships. Be careful that you stay focused on encouragement and be cautious of flattery!
  3. Taking credit vs. giving credit. When we interact positively with others, we share credit and figure out ways that each of us have contributed to making an impact greater than we could have made on our own. In this place, there are also opportunities to learn from one another as well. We need to be careful that our intention in interacting positively with others and sharing credit doesn’t result in taking credit for other partner’s ideas and products. Yes, we can share credit for the overall results and goal achievement; however, we each have individual contributions to make toward the collective outcomes. If we are going to continue to interact positively with others, we need to be cautious that we give credit, recognize our own contributions (goes back to “know yourself”) and genuinely sharing the credit.

So what about you? Which of these signs have you experienced in partnerships that started out as a positive interaction but ended up being a form of manipulation?

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