Persuasion or Manipulation?

Interesting question for anyone who finds themselves needing to persuade other people (that's pretty much all of us)…

A private group I am part of has been hashing over something I posted late last year – a little piece called “Is Marketing Evil?”

In this discussion, the inevitable debate erupted over what the difference is between persuasion and manipulation. Says one of my companions: “the difference is the intent.”

Well and good, and I have often said the same thing. But… here's my question:

What if your intent is good but your premise is wrong?

For instance, what if you believed smoking was good for unborn babies, and you passionately cared about those babies, so you tried to persuade pregnant woment to take up smoking?

Your intent would be good, but your facts are wrong.

So, in that case, does it matter whether we classify “talking someone into something” as “persuasion” or manipulation?

Does that mean that all persuasion is in fact manipulation, and vice-versa?

What do you think?

Ray Edwards is a world-renowned copywriter and communications strategist, writing for some of the most powerful voices in leadership and business including New York Times bestselling authors Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen (Chicken Soup for the Soul) and Tony Robbins. Ray is a sought-after speaker and author, hosts a popular weekly podcast, and blogs at