Is It Manipulation or Praise?
There is a tremendous amount of articles written on the importance of praise and its positive effect on a person.
Whether it’s an employee, coworker, or your children, healthy praise can both motivate and inspire. It can also cause others to feel good about themselves and their work.
That said, there isn’t nearly as much written about the negative impact that false praise has on an individual. False praise happens when the intent is to manipulate the other person. It can happen in the workplace and is known as gaslighting.
Napoleon Hill & The Devil
Years ago, I listened to an audio book written by Napoleon Hill (Think and Grow Rich) in 1938 entitled, Outwitting the Devil.
The book was held back from publication for 73 years because of what Hill wrote about the the church, the government, and the media and their desire to control the masses.
It was finally released in 2011, at a time when the challenges facing our country were eerily familiar to those facing our country in 1938. Believe it or not we are still faced with these challenges today.
In one of his later chapters, Hill writes that one of the most powerful ways a person can be manipulated or drift off course, is to have an inflated desire for external praise and admiration. Hill labeled it as the “ego of men and the vanity of women.” Today, I think we can safely say, it is driven by the ego of human beings.
Externally Derived Self-Worth
Please don’t get caught in the rhetoric of the differentiation between men and women. Being vain is simply a synonym for ego and it inflicts everyone.
The point here, is that when you seek praise outside yourself you’re headed for trouble. If you have a strong need for praise from others, you are so much more susceptible to being manipulated. Which of course, can lead you down a path you never intended on going down.
Think about this: if your sense of self-worth and value is tied to external factors such as praise and admiration from others, aren’t you setting yourself up to be manipulated by those same factors?
Some of the greatest con-artists who ever lived, were masters in the art of giving false praise in order to mislead their victims.
Manipulation, Praise & You
So what about you? What is your relationship to praise? How is praise impacting your life?
Answer the 3 questions below to do a gut check on how praise might be impacting you:
- Do I seek praise from others (externally) so that I can feel a sense of sense of self-worth and value (internally)? Granted everyone needs a pat on the back at times.. However, if you don’t feel valuable on the inside, nothing anybody can say from the outside will give you a sense of value that is lasting.
- Do I feel a differently when I receive praise from someone of the opposite sex? Yes, we all like praise, but if you get a much bigger buzz off of a compliment from the opposite sex, you might want to pay attention and ask yourself why?
- Do I ever give praise in order to manipulate others so that I can get what I want? A good rule of thumb here is to give praise to an individual with no strings attached. Simply give them the compliment and walk away. Asking for something in return after you praise someone is nothing but manipulation.
In The End
In our leadership programs on Influence, people always ask, “What is the difference between influence and manipulation?”
I simply respond, manipulation is about you getting what you want. Influence is about helping someone get what they want or need. It is the difference between being self-centered and other-centered.
Zig Ziglar once said, “If you’re sincere, praise is effective. If you’re insincere, it’s manipulative.”
And that’s all I have to say about that!
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