Do You Motivate or Manipulate?

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Motivation and manipulation may sound similar, but they have very little in common in the workplace. Motivation is a very desirable trait in employees and beneficial to future career advancement. Many people use manipulation disguised as an attempt to motivate to get what they want for themselves. In practice, the differences between motivation and manipulation can be subtle but significant.

Motivation has a desire to bring improvement as its basis.

While motivated employees may be good for business, that same motivation is also good for them. Motivated people have a better outlook and tend to be more energetic on the job. When employers find ways to motivate employees, they are doing both themselves and the employee a favor.

Manipulation tends to be self-serving and does not actually regard the feelings or desires of those being motivated.

Manipulation is a way for one person to get someone else to do something that is wanted or needed without the second person receiving anything significant in return. This method of getting others to do something usually results in a loss of true motivation. When people realize that they have been manipulated, it is normal for them to feel used or even abused because of it.

Try to determine if you are motivating or manipulating.

One simple way to avoid becoming a manipulator is to determine why you are asking a person or group to accomplish a task. If it is to get you out of doing it or to get something for free, there is a good chance that you will be using manipulation to get the job done. Examine the outcome of the process. Is it highly likely that the person who does the work will feel good about the job or receive some personal benefit from it? If this is not the case, you can assume that at least part of the process is more manipulation than motivation.

Motivation will generally lead to bigger and more enduring outcomes.

When motivation is used to achieve a goal, everyone will walk away feeling a sense of completion or accomplishment. Like physical exercise, motivation will have an effect that carries forward after the task at hand is completed. A person who has been motivated to do it once will often be eager to do it again. Even more significant is the fact that motivation in one area will usually pour over into the other endeavors that the person does. He or she will not only be improved as an employee but also as a person.

As leaders and managers, people must be careful to use motivation and not manipulation.

In order to get the best results from workers, you need them to want to work for you not just to do their job. Managers who motivate employees receive satisfaction from watching those employees grow and not just produce. Learn to celebrate the accomplishments of those that you lead. This motivates them to press to perform more and better quality tasks.


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