Manipulation Anxiety & Conformism: This is how influencing works


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Manipulation affects everyone, everywhere, every day. Because communication is manipulation. How can we protect ourselves from this?

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Simone Janson Simone JansonSimone Janson is publisher, German Top20 blogger and Consultant for HR communication.

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The daily manipulation

Many manipulations are so subtle that we hardly notice them. And not just in the media, but probably every day when dealing with colleagues, bosses, friends and partners. And it happens to each of us every day. Who are manipulated and manipulate yourself.

Often so subtle that we don't even notice it. Manipulation is an integral part of normal communication, so to speak: In the 80s, psychologists with a somewhat negative worldview put forward the thesis that everyone constantly manipulates others, such as parents rewarding or punishing their children, couples by depriving or loving each other.

Manipulation in the job

And even those who want to assert themselves properly in the job, want to bring their ideas to the man or woman, manipulate bosses or clients in a certain way. Conversely, bosses also like to manipulate their employees or colleagues among themselves:

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For example if you want to convince people to do something they don't feel like doing. Who does not know the nasty saying based on the pattern: “But everyone does that”, where the manipulator plays with the peer pressure? On the other hand, you can simply convince people that you act as confidently as possible!

Dangerous manipulation

Manipulations are really dangerous if you hardly notice them. Many people may not be aware of how they are influenced every day. On the other hand, really well-trained salespeople no longer act as clumsily as people generally think: banks, for example, who use brain research and customer profiles to manipulate in a targeted manner.

Tricky are also sellers, where you initially suspect no self-interest, because they are illegally not labeled at all and with a system - I was recently able to experience this myself or with my wallet.

Social media and the Internet as a danger?

And maybe social media is also a dangerous tool in this sense, because here the boundaries between private interests and marketing are increasingly threatening to blur - even if I find the scaremongering in this regard a little exaggerated.

The German philosopher and theologian Theodor W. Adorno also shows that it is worth thinking about it with his thoughts on conformism and excessive social adjustment. Timeless, to the point and still absolutely true.

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Adorno on social adjustment

The three main fields of observation of his critical theory are economics, the development of the individual and culture. In a combination of Marxist and psychoanalytic perspectives, society in particular is viewed critically. It is not only understood as a totality of people in a certain period of time, but rather social relationships are analyzed that are overpowering for the individual and restrict the character and scope for action of the people. Family socialization (family as a psychosocial agency), the mass media and mass culture play a special role in the stabilization of rule.

According to Adorno, capitalization society is becoming alienated by increasing technology, scientific progress and the resulting bureaucracy: the importance of the individual is lost. Enlightenment reason viewed the attainment of true knowledge of the world as the essence of man, but this reason had become instrumental and purposeful. Only consider this instrumental reason from the point of view of benefit. According to the argument, the relationships between individuals are largely objectified and objectified by breaking traditional ties. They were increasingly reduced to mere exchange relationships. In the end, a totally managed world emerges that exercises extensive social control over the individual and consistently suppresses idealism, non-conformism, unconventionality or creativity - contrary to their character.


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When are we most vulnerable?

So much for conformism and social adjustment. But to the extent that one assumes targeted manipulation of the state and society, one does not have to exaggerate the topic at all. The joke is, however, that many people believe that they are enlightened and immune to manipulation - as Robert Levine describes in his book “The Great Seduction: Psychology of Manipulation”:

“People tend to have the strange illusion that they have a personal invulnerability to manipulation - we think we fell for them more easily than others around us. This illusion is partly created by the subtle method of clever professionals who make it difficult to see that you are being manipulated. To some extent, it is also nurtured by another, 'normal' illusion, namely that we are smarter and therefore better protected than other people ... But the more we are convinced of our immunity, the less we tend to take precautionary measures, and that makes us particularly vulnerable ”

So I have to make it clear that everyone is susceptible to manipulation. At any time. But often it doesn't even take many words for it. This is due to the mirror neurons, which ensure that moods and feelings are transmitted to other people even without verbal communication. It is not said for nothing that enthusiasm is contagious. And sometimes the real manipulation is to make the other person aware that they are being manipulated.

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  1. ich

    what if you were supposed to be a journalist to learn and master German spelling. is disgusting how to write such bad German.

    • Simone Janson

      nobody forces you to read it ;-)

  2. Rafael Kasprzak

    Here we are manipulated and so we can protect ourselves

  3. Frieling-Bailey

    This is how influencing works (by @SimoneJanson) #Career #Management #Communication via @Birgit_Dondorff

  4. Pingback: Lost & Found (3): Finds from blogs and the web - Human Resource Blog

  5. Andreas Morawietz

    RT @Birgit_Dondorff: How influencing works (by @SimoneJanson) #Career #Management #Communication

  6. schnuffiiii

    RT @ Birgit_Dondorf - many people believe that they are enlightened and immune to manipulation

  7. Birgit Dondorff

    realistic: How influencing works (by @SimoneJanson) #career #management #communication

  8. Simone Janson

    Newly blogged: Attention, manipulators at work: This is how influencing works - a ...

  9. Competencepartner

    Attention, manipulators at work: This is how influencing works - an overview !: You could ...

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