Here I am, continuing with another question I often receive from the participants in my PCM workshops (in-house or open). This time: “Isn’t applying PCM a form of manipulation, in the end?”
As you might already know, PCM is a tool to help us connect to other people and build better relationships by speaking a language that our interlocutors are more comfortable with. PCM also helps us to invite people out of distress by offering them a “battery charge” – covering their main psychological needs, so that they can return to being their constructive and productive selves.
In order to do this, we have first to assess and understand what Personality Structure does our interlocutor have, so that we can adapt our own way of communicating to fit their favourite one (to “connect to the Base Personality Type”). We don’t have to do this for long periods of time, but it helps when we do this repeatedly: first, when we start communicating and then, if/when we notice that our communication doesn’t seem so clear and crisp.
This, of course, takes conscious effort and energy from our side: first, to understand the Personality Structure of the person in front of us and second, to adapt our own way of communication to make it easier for them.
Additionally, when we notice them exhibiting certain unproductive behaviours (“distress sequences”, as we call them in PCM), that is a sign that they haven’t had their “batteries charged” in a while… meaning: they haven’t had their Psychological Needs met in a while. And then, again, if we ourselves have the energy to do that, we can choose to meet their needs, thus bringing them back to productive and constructive behaviours and we can then better communicate and work with them (Note: when we are in distress, we don’t think clearly and we don’t communicate well… distress is the terrain for conflicts, miscommunication and mismanagement).
And this is when, at times, participants ask me: but if I “speak their language” and/or “charge their batteries” to then make some things happen (e.g. work better on a project, get some stuff done together), isn’t that a form of manipulation? So… isn’t it that PCM can be used to manipulate?
And, my answer to this, is that any tool that teaches us about how people function can be used for manipulation. Just as a sword can be used to attack or to protect.
When we use PCM to better connect and motivate others, we normally spend some of our energy to do that (to adapt to what the other person needs). So then, my invitation is to think about applying PCM with others as a continuous investment in a better relationship.
It’s a win-win: the other person will be talked to in a language they prefer, so they won’t need to spend extra-energy to “translate” your message into their own language, and thus, your message will not be “lost in translation” – it will be heard clearly and chances for misunderstanding will diminish. The person is still free to refuse or to propose other options, but they now speak from a place of clarity and understanding.
Also, when a person is in distress – and, we know, this is not good for them, nor for the people around them – well, if I can do something to invite them out of distress (and I have the available energy to do that) – why not do it? In fact, people in distress start to not think clearly, so they become less productive and more prone to conflicts. And this is felt by the people near them.
If I need to work/live with them, isn’t inviting them out of stress just the logical thing to do? They will be able to think clearly again and be productive again. And, when thinking clearly, they cannot be easily manipulated. In fact, they’ll now be able to use their character strengths again to make the best of tasks/situations/relationships and even make an extra effort to use some other abilities that maybe are requiring some more effort and energy for them to use.
I think wanting to have better and more productive relationships is not a manipulation technique… is an energy investment for the common good, a win-win.
And I extend to you the invitation to build better and more constructive relationships in your lives by applying PCM. It really works!
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