Emotional Manipulators: Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing

Emotional Manipulators: Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing

Beware of Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing

The Psychological literature identifies Personalities that are Manipulative, the “Wolves in Sheeps Clothing”.  These are people that use deceit in their dealings with those around them.  The Manipulator may be conscious of their manipulation, or unconscious and blind to their willful use of deceit.

The Arbinger Institute first brought to my attention the process of Self Deception in our minds when run by our Ego rather than the underlying Self.

Manipulative people will say some of the most unsettling things.  This inevitably begs the question:  Do they really believe what they’re saying?

“Manipulative people prey on our sensibilities, emotional sensitivity, and especially, our conscientiousness.  And sometimes they speak and act with such conviction, that we begin to believe them.  We can even start feeling responsible in some way for what we perceive to be their pain.” Dr George Simon

How to spot an Emotional Manipulator?  The simplest answer is “trust your gut, not their words”.  If your intuition tells you, ignore their words.  To improve your intuition, here is a list of 8 ways to spot Emotional Manipulation.

Beware of Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing.


Ethics in Persuasion: The Customer is Not an Idiot

Early in my seminars I tell participants that Persuasion is not Manipulation.  Manipulation is getting others to do something that is of benefit to me.  Persuasion is getting others to do something that is of benefit to them and of benefit to me.

Where is the line between Manipulation and Persuasion?  

Beware of Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing

Where is black and where is white?  How close to the line can I be without being “unethical”?  How close to the line do I wish to go?

Professors Sherry Baker and David Martinson published a framework for Ethical Persuasion in 2001.  It is a useful framework to use when asking the question “where does persuasion end and manipulation begin?”

I like TARES because it is not a list of rules, it is not the minimum necessary.  It is a set of questions that are up to you as an individual to answer in your own way.

TARES is an acronym for Truthfulness, Authenticity, Respect, Equity and Social Responsibility:

  • Truthfulness: Is this communication factually accurate and true? Has this appeal deliberatedly left out important and relevant facts? 
  • Authenticity: Do I feel good about being involved in this action? Do I believe that the audience will see improved Quality of Life? 
  • Respect: Is the persuasive appeal made to the audience as rational, free, adult human beings? Do I care about them as people? 
  • Equity: Does this meet The Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”  
  • Social Responsibility: Does this action promote and create the kind of world and society in which I myself would like to live in? 

You can read the full original academic article here: The TARES test for Ethical Persuasion.  It has 5 tables that provide many questions that help shape your ideas of what really constitutes Truth, Authenticity, Respect, Equity and Social Responsibility.

I moved the second part of this post, which is a discussion of Manipulators to a new post.

4 Vital Questions for Every Powerpoint Slide

I am sitting in an audience at a conference.  This third speaker today seems interesting, speaks with passion.

He is now on his seventh powerpoint slide.  Each slide is interesting and well designed.

My neighbor leans in towards me.  I lean towards him.  He says: “What is this guy telling us again?”

My neighbor fishes his blackberry out of his pocket and gets back to something that seems more important to him: reading random emails.  Sadly, this is a common occurrence.

The 4 Vital Questions for Every Slide
Every time you show an audience a Powerpoint slide, the audience needs you to answer 4 Vital questions:

  1. “What is this?”
  2. “What is important [for the audience]?”
  3. “What does this mean [for the audience]?”
  4. “Give me a specific example [relevant to the audience]?”
If you don’t have these 4 answers in a way that is relevant for the audience, you are not serving the audience.  If you can’t answer these 4 questions, delete the slide.  
If it is not adding, it subtracts.  If it is not relevant to them, it is irrelevant.
Delete the slide.  Yes, delete it.
Less is more.
Blackberry needs more than your help today Mr Speaker. 😉

Success = 80% Diagnosis, 20% Prescription

Don’t rush to the solution.  You need to go through a good diagnosis process before the listener is ready to hear the solution.  If you rush to solution, the listener is not ready to trust you.

Do you take time in your meetings to really ensure that everyone shares the view of what the problem is?  I have been to many meetings where the conflict is really due to the fact that each person is trying to solve a different problem.

7 Critical Elements of an Entrepreneurial Pitch

There are 7 critical elements of an effective entrepreneur “Pitch” that works (video here on the blog):

The 7 elements of a good entrepreneurial elevator pitch 
A good entrepreneurial elevator pitch will contain these 7 elements:

  1. description of the problem you solve 
  2. the individuals or groups that will benefit 
  3. the specific product or service you will deliver 
  4. how you differ from competitors and other substitutes 
  5. how you will make money 
  6. what resources you require (money, time, support, expertise) 
  7. an outline of the value that will be created
What do you think?  What is the best pitch you have seen?  How much time do you spend preparing and practicing your pitch?

Moving People to Action: Emotion is necessary [Video]

The importance of emotion in moving people to take action.

This is a video from a recent seminar for the Barcelona Internet Startups Meetup group on the role of emotion in moving people to action.  This is a great group to meet entrepreneurs, VCs and techies living in Barcelona.

The third pillar of Aristotle’s triad of Persuasion is Pathos.

Pathos is an appeal based on emotion.  Emotional connection with an audience can be accomplished in 2 ways:

Pitching: Get the first 10 words right

What are the first ten words of your next pitch, speech or presentation?

Participants of Wayra Week Barcelona 2012

I was at Wayra Week Barcelona this week working with 30 selected startup businesses to prepare their companies for growth and investment.  All were looking to raise a round of venture capital financing for their businesses.

I spent a lot of time going from group to group asking “what are the first 10 words of your pitch for tomorrow?”

I received a range of replies:

  • “Huh.  Oh.  Ah.  Yeah.  My name is… and our business is …”
  • “We are a platform for connecting users to providers…”
  • “We have a solution for the publishing industry…”
  • “Hello.  Thanks.  I am very happy for this opportunity…”
  • “Uhh.  Why?  Only ten words…”

These answers are lessons in putting audiences to sleep.

Lets get it clear.  Investors hear hundreds of pitches.   They know they are probably not going to invest in your business and want to confirm this assumption as quickly as possible.  They have years of experience in knowing when to switch off listening to the pitch and check their email on the blackberry, or plan their ski weekend.  Why let them tune out before you have finished your first 10 words?

What should the first 10 words achieve?

  1. We are not here to waste your time
  2. We are professionals (we prepare well and practice lots)
  3. We are a serious business
  4. We know what you are interested in
  5. We know what criteria you will use to take this decision

The first 10 words are vitally important.  The first 10 words gets you attention for 30 seconds.  You then have 30 seconds to earn attention for the next 5 minutes.  If your first 10 words loses the audience, you will not get them back.

What are your first 10 words of your next pitch, speech or presentation?  

I think there are only 3 ways to start a pitch.  Interested?