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.