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Reflection on Ethical Persuasion: Analytical Essay

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It’s not so much about crossing a line; it’s about your true intentions. The difference between negative and positive manipulation is not necessarily whether it’s covert, or whether it attempts to change a belief, it’s about ethics. If you can be relatively sure you’re going against a core belief, or something you’re prospect would not want, it’s not ethical. If you would not want it done to you, it’s probably not ethical. If it causes harm to your prospect, it’s probably not ethical. If you have to threaten or force someone to accomplish your goal, it’s coercion and it’s definitely unethical.

You can use the art of persuasion and manipulation without being two-faced and deceptive. There’s nothing wrong with wanting it all. You deserve what you want, and you can have it, but you must remember that if you’re entitled to what you want, so is everyone around you. You must use your powers for good and not diminish anyone else’s pursuit for happiness. Respect the others around you, and respect the art. You’ll experience a greater sense of accomplishment and pride.

Knowledge of these basic concepts isn't hard, but people are largely unaware of them, or aware of them on a subconscious level only. Learning the art of influence and how to apply these techniques puts you ahead of the crowd. With this information, you have a tool kit to use in any interaction you have. You’ll be able to manage the interaction with confidence and authority, and communicate your intentions and expectations clearly. Then all you have left is to watch the situation play out as you desire.

It may be true that there are individuals, businesses, politicians, and leaders out there who conduct underhanded, dirty, mean business. They use knowledge and tools in harmful ways. But that doesn’t mean all businesses run that way, and it doesn't mean you have to conduct yourself like that.

When it comes to guiding and inspiring other professionals, knowing a thing or two about positive manipulation makes all the difference. Keynote speakers take the stage to inspire sales teams. Trainers and coaches hold students accountable for reaching the goals they’ve set. Whether to inspire a sales team, a singer, an actor, an athlete, a parent, or a student with important exams, coaches are always working with the patterns of thought and behavior exhibited by their clients.

Tony Robbins is a very well-known American author and life coach who regularly hosts or speaks at seminars which cater to a wide variety of individuals. The audience is often comprised of business professionals, entrepreneurs, and other driven individuals wanting to accelerate their success and develop themselves on a professional or personal level. Not only does Tony Robbins attest to deliberately using persuasive language and communication on himself, and within business and social situations, he teaches others how to do the same. He speaks on the theory, the how-to, and the virtues and results of a lifestyle augmented by the ability to read individuals and communicate persuasively.

There are thinking habits and behavioral habits that we all have that may no longer be serving us well. For example, a thought-pattern of overthinking, stressing needlessly, or self-criticizing may have been born from an initial need or purpose, but the behavior has persisted and rather than serve as a help, it has devolved into a harmful behavior. Similarly, physical behaviors can be the same. Smoking, perhaps, was taken up initially as a means of coping with stress. That may have been a beneficial (or at least available) mechanism of coping at the time. As time goes by though, the habit of lighting a cigarette and smoking it to feel relief from stress is not as effective, and the drawbacks to smoking are more noticeable as a pattern that is no longer serving you well.

Robbins, along with many other coaches and speakers on a local or national scale, teach individuals how to use manipulative language and action on themselves to replace these negative patterns with positive ones. But it’s not only about adjusting behavioral patterns. Learning the art of persuasion allows you to command an audience with confidence. It allows you to say just the right, impressive, thing at the right time to that romantic or financial prospect. It allows you to move more freely through a host of social situations you’ll inevitably find yourself in at some point, or regularly.

For coaches that guide sales teams and entertainers, teaching others to project themselves deliberately is one of the primary functions. So much of what we do is a psychological game more than anything else. No matter if you speak to a king, a saint, or degenerate, the inherent senses that manipulation plays upon is an equalizer. We are all human. We all want for safety, food, and shelter. We all desire to be of value and to be loved. We all strive for self-actualization. Persuasion acknowledges this and utilizes it to elicit a particular response from the individual or the public. The desired response comes as a result of the harmony between the language of the body and actual language.

When an individual says one thing, but their body says another, the audience picks up on this, either consciously or subconsciously. Impressions, opinions, and even decisions are made based on this information. If the visual or physical doesn’t seem to match the verbal, we instinctively recognize that something is amiss.

A professional that distinctly adheres to the philosophies of deliberate body language and actual language would be attorneys and lawyers, especially trial lawyers. Trial lawyers routinely represent clients in significant court cases, arguing in their client’s support and defense. Without a doubt, this requires a keen sense of how one conducts himself in the courtroom. It requires a deliberate intention to build a conscious and subconscious rapport with the jury and judge. A trial lawyer must also guide the client in deliberate body language and deliberate speech for the best possible results in the trial.

Persuasion is used to build a rapport with the judge and jury. It’s important to be able to read the body language of the jury in the initial stages. It provides insight to the lawyer about which areas of the trial or the story need more attention, emphasis, or avoidance. The way a juror might cross their arms, rest their elbow, or the micro-expressions on their face, all provide an indication into the mental and emotional workings of that individual at the time. In addition to reading the body language of individual jurors, the lawyer must to his or her best to broadcast themselves as sure, confident, and authoritative. This is not done by facts and words alone, but by the way in which one carries him or herself, the way in which one conducts him or herself on the courtroom floor. The way they breathe, the way they walk and stand, the way they sit and write, all of these factors will be weighed by the jury either consciously or subconsciously.

Persuasion is used to build the case, as well. Words are selected carefully. The order of those words is predetermined. While some information is deliberately put on display, other information may be deliberately downplayed or avoided to construct a story that puts the client in a good light. Facts, evidence, and alibis are all presented with intentions in mind and persuasion at hand. The lawyer assesses the jury and makes determinations about how to tell the story and the perfect timing to reveal or conceal information. The lawyer changes the tone, cadence, volume, timbre, and register of voice during certain points throughout the trial, to add influence and persuasion.

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Persuasion is used in a number of ways throughout a trial. A lawyer might play “memory games” with a witness to discredit them. If a lawyer is trying to demonstrate what kind of character someone has, a meaningless social media post or email might be taken out of context and inflated to sway the jury.

Witnesses and those who testify in court are subject to heavy amounts of manipulation through speculation and emotional baiting. Lawyers must possess a working knowledge of human behavior and persuasive communication in order to lead a trial one way or the other for best results.

Without the skills to read the body language and expressions of the jury, the judge, the witness, and the opposing party, and the client, the lawyer would have little control over persuading the jury. Without these skills, the lawyer would not be able to best serve the client in defending his or her rights. Persuasion and manipulation is a necessary tool for this profession.

If it’s easy to see manipulation is a part of the law profession, it should be similarly easy to see that the world of politics is regulated by persuasion and manipulation; arguably even more so. Part of the power and magic of persuasive communication, especially in today’s world, is that it doesn’t always matter whether the communication contains truth and facts. What really matters is how others react to it emotionally. This is true of politics, and law.

In the business world, the role of a negotiator is to ensure that maximum value is felt by the counterparts. To achieve this, negotiators must read, interpret, and communicate in a deliberate and tactful way. In most cases, a rapport has been developed and it’s at this sometimes stressful point that the relationship is most fragile. The wrong phrasing or timing, and the rapport which has been built, could collapse. The negotiation could go south and result in an indefinite delay or a withdrawal of interest. To avoid this, negotiators employ a series of persuasive tactics to maintain the interest of the counterparts and to demonstrate high value. For instance, one of the primary methods of persuasion is to actually listen to what your prospect is saying, both in their language and in their body. If you listen carefully, instead of just waiting for your next chance to say something brilliant, you’ll actually pick up on clues and tidbits of information that you can use later with your prospect to persuade them.

An example of this might be a sales professional trying to close his or her biggest sale yet. In an attempt to demonstrate value to the prospect, the sales professional prepares a list of all the major features and functionality that will surely impress the prospect. However, when the sales professional listens to the prospect closely and carefully, it becomes clear that the prospect is only concerned about one major aspect: customer service. The prospect doesn’t care how many bells and whistles are included or how new and fast the technology is. What really matters is whether or not the customer service team will be responsive and really support them. The sales professional could play this one of two ways. If he or she has listened carefully, they’ll know the list of features and functionality they’ve prepared is virtually useless. The prospect just wants to trust that the sales professional will be responsive and supportive. This is the aspect the skilled sales negotiator will focus on. If the professional has not listened carefully, he or she will still probably try to dazzle the prospect with the features list, but will ultimately lose the interest of the prospect instead.

Another fundamental skill of a well-trained negotiator is to come prepared. The list of features and functionality? Create it and bring it anyway, even if you don’t use it. If you’re headed to a job interview, it’s a smart move to do your homework first. Look up the company’s website online. Get familiar with it. What’s the pricing structure or services provided? What topics were recently covered in the company blog? Check out the About and Contact Us pages to get a sense for who works within the company, how it was founded, and what mission the company is dedicated to. Having this information as you go into your interview will be infinitely more helpful than not. Sure, there is something to be said for winging it, but that’s like breaking the rules. Good rule breakers only break the rules after they learn them.

Excellent negotiators are ready to play poker and walk away if that’s what it takes to persuade the prospect. The negotiator plays the part of someone cool, calm, and collected. Straight-faced and only letting deliberate expressions slip. When the first offer is made, the negotiator doesn’t take it. This skilled manipulator is ready with a clear idea in mind about what the best-possible deal might be and what would be a dealbreaker. This professional doesn’t flinch one way or the other if the first offer is good or bad, and he or she isn’t afraid to walk away from the offer if some basic standards aren’t met. If you’re going into a job interview, it’s a smart idea to have in mind a salary you expect, a best-case salary, a worst-case salary, and what factors would make you decline the deal. If you go into the interview with these mental benchmarks, it will be easier to remain calm when the negotiations get heated. Without them, you may make an impulsive decision based on emotion that may not be the best deal you could get if you’d play it cool and put on a poker face.

Whether on a local level or a national scale, leaders find themselves in need of this same set of skills used by so many others, in order to influence and persuade their followers. Community leaders, spiritual leaders, and professors use these same practices to engage their audiences. In many cases, these leaders aim to inspire, educate, and call to action those in their communities and organizations. Without the understanding of basic body language, the leader would not be able to gain as much valuable insight as they could about their followers. Without the understanding of body language communication, the leader may not give off the right impression. How one stands, walks, breathes, and speaks are all indications of whether the individual is a confident and reliable authority or not. Eckhart Tolle would not be the spiritual teacher he is today if he spoke with anxiety and self-doubt. Martin Luther King Jr. may not have influenced entire generations of people had he not the understanding of effective, persuasive communication. U.S. President, John F. Kennedy, and his speech about going to the moon before the end of the 60s would not be such a permanent mark in our history if it weren’t for his impeccable sense of timing, and again, very persuasive communication. Presidential speeches are often groomed to fit a certain rhythm and cadence, with small digestible words, and a repetitive beat, in order for it to be the most effective communication possible.

One individual who fully understood the importance of communication from the body and from the mouth was King Leonidas, the Spartan military leader who famously defended the Greeks from the large-scale Persian attack of Xerxes at the Gates of Thermopylae with only 300 men in 480 BC.

Throughout his life, this well-respected leader knew how to command a group of individuals physically and verbally. His Spartan army was among the most well-trained and aggressive. The discipline and dedication of each Spartan soldier was remarkable and held in highest regard. Leonidas would not be able to accomplish this control and management of the Greeks and his army if it were not for a distinct understanding of human nature, and how to manipulate behavior with communication.

When Leonidas was asked if he would die to stop the Persians, he made it clear that his pride was not in dying to stop the Persians, but in dying to save the Greeks. When leaders asked Leonidas why he was taking so few troops to defend the Gates from the Persians, he displayed brazen confidence and told the leaders it was already too many for the task at hand. When his troops complained that the Persian army fired so many arrows it blocked out the sunlight, Leonidas used persuasive reframing and told his troops it would be nice to fight in the shade. When the Spartan troops were worried about the Persian army gaining on them, he told his men, yes the enemy is close to us, but this means we are close to them.

At one point, Xerxes, leader of the Persian army sent a messenger with a letter to Leonidas. Xerxes employed his own variety of manipulation. He offered for Leonidas and his men to join his Persian army and in return, Xerxes would allow Leonidas to be ruler over all of Greece. This attempted influence over Leonidas did not work. Instead, he returned a bit of manipulation himself, antagonizing Xerxes to attack. Xerxes had held held off the attack, waiting days. Xerxes had banked on the sheer number of his army manipulating the Greeks into retreat and surrender. Xerxes also thought that the intimidation of his army face to face with Leonidas’ men would wear them down over a matter of days and mentally stress them out. Though tactful, Xerxes influence was not great enough for the Spartan leader and his troops. When Xerxes next wrote to Leonidas ordering he hand over all weapons, Leonidas wrote back: “Come and get them”. Both leaders were utilizing the skills of persuasion. On one another, toward their own armies, and toward their citizens and leaders.

Coaches, speakers, lawyers, politicians, and negotiators are only a few of the fine professions to make fundamental use of persuasion. The success that these individuals experience can be the success you experience from your own application of these tools. Next, let’s take a look at more of these tools to help you on your path to achievement.

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Reflection on Ethical Persuasion: Analytical Essay. (2022, July 14). Edubirdie. Retrieved March 1, 2024, from
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