SBM Articles



by Judy Ryan

Manipulation has gotten a bad rap. We often feel insulted and become defensive when we or someone we love is described as manipulative. The common belief is that manipulation is bad, and sometimes it is. But it’s also amazing, positive, effective and helpful. What makes the difference? Our consciousness and intent. Manipulation is no more positive or negative than a car. It is a means to achieve a destination. When I wrote above that arriving at the destination is more than just having the map, that’s the same as the ends do NOT justify the means. How and why we choose to manipulate are the means, and we have the responsibility to consider our means with thoughtful care and intention.

We are all manipulative, all the time, with no exceptions. Yep. That’s because we’re self-determining and purposeful no matter what we are doing and how aware we are when we act. If you had a loaded gun, hopefully you wouldn’t be reckless and thoughtless about where you keep and use it. The same holds true for your manipulations. You must be awake to their power and presence and how you use them for good.

In my work, I first manipulate the mindsets of people. I offer compelling evidence, stories, examples, Socratic questions, and new habits that allow people to consider ideas they may not have considered before. Next, I manipulate the behavior of those I lead by teaching them tools and techniques to manipulate their own internal understanding and behavior, and then others in relationship. This process helps them manipulate themselves to effect positive changes internally and externally. One of the most important manipulations I begin with is helping people recognize what is working and not working and why.
One of the skills I teach is called “redirecting negative behavior.” With this skill, people learn to become aware of what they’re feeling when facing someone who is discouraged and misbehaving. Then they recognize what fearful belief is in the mind of the other person; recall how they can best interact with this fearful belief and pattern; then redirect it, despite often considerable initial resistance from the discouraged person. This is a super power.

People often say in the beginning, “Aren’t I manipulating when I redirect?” This is often when the manipulation conversation comes up and is the inspiration for this article. I tell them, “Yes. First, you’re manipulating yourself out of seeing the person as a “monster.” Second, you’re manipulating yourself to remember what pattern is in play from fear and limitation. Third, you’re manipulating yourself to remember this person’s needs instead of judging, criticizing, and reacting negatively to them. Fourth, you’re using very scripted steps to manipulate the other person into remembering who they are at their best, not who they think they are from discouragement. From all of this, you manipulate change in their mind, heart, and behavior.” What could be better than manipulating people from fear to love? By the way, I remind them that any person who is engaged in negative behavior is also manipulating those around them, selling them on and seeking validation for fearful, limiting beliefs they are unaware of that are in play.

Own your manipulative nature. It is literally part of your design. It is an aspect of your power. The problem is not your power. The problem is you may have not been celebrated for having it, guided in awareness of it, and taught intentional use of it. That’s the work LifeWork Systems does in every kind of setting with entire teams so that people become responsible and competent in using their manipulations for their highest purposes, values and visions. Let me know if you could use our help with this process. It is the best investment you can make because you are developing your greatest asset: your people. May my article manipulate you into calling me for an initial or follow-up conversation.

Judy Ryan (, human systems specialist, is owner of LifeWork Systems. Join her in her mission to create a world in which all people love their lives. She can also be reached at 314-239-4727.
People hire LifeWork Systems because we help businesses become agile and manage their priority system: their human system. I hope this article helps you make sense of what’s most crucial to your evolving organization!

Submitted 56 days ago
Categories: categoryThe Extraordinary Workplace
Views: 209