I don't like to be manipulated or to see folks being manipulated. I'm sure I've manipulated folks before, too. Doesn't make it right at all. It just means I can be as big of a jerk as anyone else.
In the book of Philemon, Paul was really manipulative. He wanted Philemon to release Onesimus from being a slave. I think he also wanted to challenge Philemon to do more than simply do the right things in his life.
Paul used cleverness to drive home his manipulative agenda. He played on Onesimus’ name, (it means “useful) by calling him formerly “useless” but now useful. He played on Philemon’s sense of fairness, too. (“I preferred to do nothing without your consent.” and “If he has wronged you in any way, or owes you anything, charge that to my account. . . I say nothing about your owing me even your own self!”)
Paul masterfully manipulated this letter into one that seems to have no appropriate response except for Onesimus’ freedom and equality.
If the intent is good in the end, is it OK to use blatant manipulation of another person to achieve the results you want?
- When is manipulation appropriate?
- How is persuasion different than manipulation?
- There's a lot more here, too. What are your thoughts?