Isn’t influence the same as manipulation?
Absolutely not. Manipulation is a negative behavior defined as “managing another shrewdly and deviously…tampering or falsifying for personal gain.” When you manipulate someone you engage in actions to affect their behavior without their direct knowledge. If your target knew your actual intentions, your attempt to change or affect their behavior would most likely not succeed.
Influence is a positive behavior. It is a direct attempt to sway someone’s opinion or actions through compelling discussion and/or relationship building. When you use influence to sway another’s opinion, you work to discover what that person wants in order to cooperate with your agenda. You then respond appropriately by making a “fair exchange.”
What’s the difference between influencing others to support your agenda and manipulating others to get their support?
Influencing others to support your agenda requires sincerity, authenticity, truth and a lot of connections. Those who genuinely focus on the welfare of others will more likely be successful. Those who focus only on themselves and what they want/need/desire will muddy the exchange environment and find it very hard to succeed.
Machiavellian strategies may work for a short time, but as soon as people perceive that you are only interested in your own advancement or personal success, your credibility is damaged and trust between you disappears. Supporters will quickly change into resistors and may work around you to damage both your project and your reputation.