Sunday, December 9, 2007

Good Manipulation

DH and I were having one of our discussions in the car recently.

BTW, if you and your spouse don't spend much time in the car, you might want to rethink that. The automobile is a place where you can actually sit and discuss things without constant interruptions, multi-tasking, short attention spans, etc. We almost sort of communicate there.

Or, as I described our recent Thanksgiving trip, "eight-and-a-half-hours in the car together--priceless!"

Anyway, DH was talking about trying to get a business associate to do his job in a particular way, and in my most gentle Southern manner, which I learned from my Southern mom, I said, "Well, that could be seen as being a little manipulative, couldn't it?"

DH replied, "Well, yes, but that's Good Manipulation." "Ah!" I said. "I didn't know that there was a Good Manipulation and a Bad Manipulation. How does one tell the difference between the two?"

"Well, Good Manipulation has a good motive, and Bad Manipulation has a bad one."

Now, I'm thinking, this could be useful stuff. All these years I've thought that you weren't supposed to go around trying to change other people, and bam! I find out that if your heart's in the right place, manipulating folks is okay!

This is useful especially for spouses, since we're always trying to manipulate each other anyway, truth be told. For example, if DH wants me to help him in his shop, he compliments me and tells me my assistance is "perfect," and I'm much more likely to come back and help him the next time without complaint.

(I asked DH for more examples of how he manipulates me, but he replied, "It's so subtle, you can't know.")

I'm not even going to get into how wives manipulate their husbands, because if I divulge such secrets I could endanger the entire planet, or at least get women everywhere extremely angry at me.

So, I continued with DH, "Oh. Interesting. A long time ago, I was taught that all manipulation was dishonest. This certainly sheds new light on that. Does the person doing the manipulating get to decide if the motive is good or bad?"

I don't remember what he answered, because even though we were in the car, my short attention span kicked in at this point, and I was no longer listening. But I think we can all benefit by considering whether we are being Good Manipulators or Bad Manipulators. All this honesty stuff is highly overrated, anyway, don't you think?

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