The Difference Between Influence and Manipulation with Bob Burg, Ep #171


What is the difference between influence and manipulation? Many people define them the same way—but that’s a mistake. They are fundamentally different. Bog Burg explains why in this episode of Negotiations Ninja. Bob Burg got his start as a radio broadcaster, had a stint on tv, and then dove into sales. He is the co-author of The Go-Giver series, written with John David Mann. They wrote the books in story-form to convey the idea of giving versus getting in sales. But they also talk about the difference between influence and manipulation. Listen to learn more!

Outline of This Episode

  • [2:18] The difference between influence and manipulation
  • [6:18] Learn how to master your emotions
  • [11:55] How to practice emotional management
  • [15:11] The importance of having a mentor
  • [16:54] See things from the other person’s perspective
  • [22:23] The most influential thing you can do
  • [24:17] Above all—communicate with empathy

The difference between influence and manipulation

People view influence as being the same as manipulation—but they’re very different. How? Bob would define influence—on a basic level—as the ability to move a person to a desired action within the context of a specific goal. There are two basic ways that this can be done: through persuasion or through manipulation.

But he emphasizes that you have to look at the difference between those two: “Both the persuader and the manipulator understand human nature, they understand human action, they understand human motivation.” He jokes that two of them are cousins—one is the good cousin and one is the evil cousin. So what’s the difference?

For years Bob talked about the two words and never felt he nailed an appropriate description of what they are—until he came across Paul W. Swets book The Art of Talking so that People will Listen. In the book, it says that manipulators seek to control another person. They don’t consider the good of the other party. The persuader, in contrast, always seeks to benefit the other party as well as themselves. They treat the other person responsibly so the other person acts responsibly as a result.

A manipulator doesn’t necessarily intend to harm the other person, but they will if that is what it takes. The difference begins with intent—but it doesn’t stop there. Both can cause immediate action. But a manipulator doesn’t create a sustainable deal and can’t be trusted. It’s good business and life practice to be a persuader as opposed to a manipulator. Keep listening to learn WHY it’s important to master your emotions—and how to do it.

The importance of a good mentor (or two, or three…)

How can you learn to be an influencer—not a manipulator? The easiest way to learn is from a mentor. Bob states that mentorship uses OPE—other people’s experience. When you have a good mentor, it can cut your learning curve significantly. They’re showing you how it’s done. They’re sharing your experience and helping you learn.

The beauty is that you don’t have to limit yourself to just one mentor. You can have people that give you one great piece of advice. Or you can have someone you speak with once a year. Or you can have mentors in each area you need help. Bob emphasizes not to get attached to the idea of “one mentor.” If someone is willing to share their time and expertise with you to help you along, don’t miss out on it.

What does it really mean to put yourself in someone else’s shoes? What is the most effective method of doing that? Bob shares his take—so keep listening.

Communicate with empathy

What is another way to become an influencer versus a manipulator? By communicating with tact and empathy. Bob emphasizes that you can speak to one another with politeness, kindness, respect, and still be true to your values. The best way to influence and persuade is to help the other person feel good about themselves. Give them an out if they want it. Don’t try to win an argument for the sake of making the other person lose.

Try to reach a mutual understanding. That person will be more likely to feel good about you and accept your position. Most people who present a good argument can be influenced—and they want to be—as long as it’s in everyone’s best interest. Remember—there still has to be an ethical appeal paired with credibility to be persuasive and influential and not manipulative. Learn more about Bob’s approach by listening to the whole episode!

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Bob Burg

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