I WATCHED LAST NIGHT'S presidential debate. My daughter's persuasive writing professor assigned it so I told her I'd watch with her since she was dreading it. My daughter is a lot like me. We both feel that politicians are heavy on ear-tickling and light on substance or valuable accomplishment.
I admit a lot of the what was said was not very interesting. I was more attuned to observing the candidates' persuasive nuances, searching for the techniques they employed to make the most impact. For instance, it seemed that citing statistics was common. Doing so made them look intelligent and well-versed in the subject matter, right?
The big take-away for me was that when a speaker is trying to be persuasive, she or he will attempt to manipulate the emotions of the listener. More than once, both candidates mentioned "real" people with "real" problems. You know, the everyday Joe (or Sue) who is down on his luck, unemployed with multiple young ones to care for. This is the stuff we can relate to on an emotional level and it's where the speaker can hook us, especially if he has a plan of action for rectifying the problems we feel passionate about.
A persuasive speaker is a lot like a gardener in spring. He's full of optimism that his (perceived) clean slate will grow into something dazzling in just a few short months. He has little doubt that his plan of action will succeed if he just works really hard and has the cooperation of (the weather) or Congress. He's unaware (or ignoring) the dormant weed seeds waiting for the opportunity to spring up and thwart his ideals.
To be successful in winning the respect of his listeners, a persuasive speaker has to believe what he speaks and ignore and/or blame the naysayers.
I spent a lot of years being manipulated. When I was really little, it was forced on me without my consent but as I got older, there were many times when I knew it was happening and allowed it because I wanted the approval of the manipulator.
One of the benefits of getting older and having the scars of lessons-learned is the ability to spot a manipulator and refuse their bullshit.
Any thoughts on this subject? How have you handled manipulation?