How Negotiation and Manipulation are Two Very Different Behaviors

Many people manipulate others in order to achieve their goals but they somehow convince themselves and others that they are simply negotiating. The truth is, manipulation and negotiation are two very different things. In order to avoid being manipulated by your counterpart, it is important to understand the difference between these two very different behaviors.

What is negotiation?
Negotiation is a method by which people settle their differences. It is a process where both parties compromise until an agreement is reached while avoiding argument and dispute. Each party aims to achieve the best possible outcome for their position while maintaining the principles of fairness, seeking mutual benefits, and maintaining a positive relationship with their counterpart. In a true negotiation, neither party feels ridiculed or coerced. They have the freedom to express their needs freely to build understanding and they feel respected by the other party.

What is manipulation?
Manipulation is the practice of using indirect tactics to control someone else’s behavior and emotions. Manipulation is a way to control the other person by using fear to make them feel guilty in order to convince them of something. Manipulators achieve their desired outcome by ignoring or harming the needs and desires of others. They use sneaky tactics in order to trick the other person into giving them what they want.

How these two behaviors differ
While both behaviors seek to achieve a desired outcome, manipulation is clearly an inappropriate method of doing so. A successful negotiation involves all parties sitting down together with the intention of establishing an agreement and seeking a mutually beneficial solution. Negotiation involves listening, communication, empathy, and a willingness to give and take. Manipulation, on the other hand, is deceptive and results in a winner and a loser. Manipulators have no regard for the other person’s feelings, but rather use trickery to get what they want. Negotiation is the only fair and ethical way to settle differences with another party. Be mindful of your behavior and that of others to ensure you aren’t being manipulated and you aren’t manipulating others.