This reflection on persuasion was done by me as part of an exercise in my Communication and Media Literacy class. (You can find the Teacher Edition here).
When I think about persuasion, I realize that we are always trying to persuade people to either do things or believe things. Often, it is ourselves we are trying to convince. And people are always trying to persuade us to do or believe things as well. What strikes me is that we need to be careful — to be full of care — by being clear on why we are trying to persuade people of things. Often, when we are trying to persuade others of things, it is for our own selfish benefit, even if we habitually try to persuade ourselves it is for the benefit of the other person. So we must take care. When we try to persuade others for our own benefit — which is okay, by the way; it is not something to be ashamed of in and of itself — we do need to be careful that we are clear to ourselves who we are doing it for, and to be ethical in our methods. Persuasion can fast become manipulation if we are not ethical in our methods. What are some guidelines to keep us from moving into manipulation territory? Well, I have a few ideas, but I decided to look into what some other people think on this, and found this post by Jonathan Fields, that I thought discusses the line between persuasion and manipulation pretty clearly and insightfully. According to the author:
The difference between persuasion and manipulation lies in:
1) The intent behind your desire to persuade that person,
2) The truthfulness and transparency of the process, and
3) The net benefit or impact on that person
I’ll definitely ponder this further, and examine some of the “persuasion” situations in my life. I’m hoping the audit is favorable to my character 🙂