The Ethics of Manipulation, or “Karma, is that you?”

When mastering unconscious influence, that is, conscious influence over others’ unconscious minds, it should be apparent that the opportunity for unethical use is always present. This is a big reason some people object to my teaching and writing about it. As if, but for me, no one would ever figure this stuff out! As much as my ego would love to believe that…come on!

But just because someone figures out how to apply a skillset to their unethical pursuit doesn’t mean they’ll figure out the other side of that. That other side, whether you prefer to call it “karma” or “What goes around, comes around,” doesn’t really matter. What does is that it’s real. We don’t get to go through life harming others with no consequences. Even if you don’t believe in some cosmic morality, whereby a post-death reward or consequence awaits you, my experience tells me that we seldom have to wait that long to get what’s coming to us.

I worked with a guy who promised all kinds of great rewards and, even early on, before anyone knew of his capability (or lack thereof), we could all smell the distinct odor of, well, bullshit. The President of the company let the guy paint himself into a corner. And by that I mean, the guy was hired for a specific ability, and the rich quality of customers he could bring over to the company. This sales cycle, the time it takes to meet a customer, identify needs, show the solution, evaluate it properly, and close the deal, was quite long for this solution. It could easily take four months for a new customer. The President challenged the guy, “So, with all the relationships you have in the industry, your connections, would you say you could add four new customers by the end of the year?”

The blood visibly drained from the guy’s face. This was early November. It was a near-impossibility to accomplish this with one customer, let alone four!

Personally, I like a challenge, but then I wouldn’t have lined myself up for a challenge where I frankly lacked the skills required. This guy wasn’t so smart.

Four months later and he hadn’t added a single one. Now he’s in a panic, trying to figure out what line of BS would explain it. The point is that, if you would have succeeded, if only for some antagonist slowing you down, it’s still on you. We’re responsible for identifying our complete strategy–what we must plan, what we must do, how to execute that plan, and to manage any potential obstacles.

Taking ownership, responsibility, not just for making a valiant effort, but for achieving the goal, specifically accomplishing what you said you would, is your job. This is where your credibility rings true, because the alternative, overpromising and underdelivering, will relegate you to the second-tier, at best. In most organizations, you’ll become irrelevant and fast.

Are you beginning to see the connection back to our starting point? When we manipulate others and where we guide them is not in their best interest, they will figure it out. This is the same thing as when where we guided them is absolutely serving them. They will figure that out, too. But in that case, they’ll appreciate it. The feeling will be that we somehow read the minds and just knew what would make them happy. That’s why I’ve had a career full of happy customers who’ve followed me wherever I went. They decided that I’d paid close enough attention to understand their needs before they even did. So as I placed the solution before them, they came to realize it would be the right one. Once someone has this experience with you a few times, it only makes sense that you would become their trusted advisor. They learn that trusting your guidance is wise. It has, after all, always worked out, and continues to do so.

The other side of that is that if you do not have the right solution, faking it is always a mistake. Your lack of integrity will be clear and, once the truth comes out, the other party will know that you can’t be trusted. Use your skills to find the right answer, deliver it, and if you find you were wrong, admit it, reclaim your credibility before it’s lost. Using the skills I teach, you can do this and maintain both your integrity and your reputation. And if you do it well, you’ll still close your deal.

If you were hoping to use your new skills to pull a fast one, though, take heart–you can always develop those skills for real, acquire the abilities, and learn how amazing it feels to deliver on the kinds of promises others only dream about.

And when you’ve delighted the other person, they’ve had the opportunity to see how well things have worked out for them as well, they’ll ask for more. The best salespeople I know, for instance, seem to “read” their customers’ needs, perfectly meet them, exceeding expectations, and leave the customer feeling they got the better end of the deal. That the salesperson did them a favor by closing that deal. And what do we know about the innate human need for reciprocity? The customer feels that they owe the salesperson for the favor they did them. And those salespeople invite the customer to repay this favor by referring new customers, giving a glowing review, etc.

That’s when you begin to realize how much more you get by facing each deal with integrity and decency.

The alternative? You managed to close the deal, persuade the other person to do as you wished, but then “buyer’s remorse” sinks in. The other person realizes they did not make the best choice for them. And as they review that decision, you will be blamed for it. This isn’t worth it. Even in a highly transactional situation where you have little expectation of future deals with that person, word gets around and it’s again not worth it.

Okay, consider this: Developing these skills and aligning your abilities with quality solutions, exceptional options, you now have the ability to enter every negotiation, every sales situation, every potentially contentious interaction, with not only great options available to you, but also a worldclass skillset with which to communicate that value.

Use it well and deliver real value. This makes “karma” or whatever you want to call it, work for you, become your friend, not an anvil looming overhead.

Better said, when “what goes around, comes around,” make sure what’s coming around to you is amazing, rewarding, exceptional.

Like you.

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