Manipulation or emotional manipulation is the use of devious means to exploit, control, or otherwise influence others to one’s advantage. In the extreme it is a stratagem of tricksters, swindlers, and impostors who disrespect moral principles, deceive and take advantage of others’ frailty and gullibility. At the very least, manipulation is forced influence used to gain control, benefits, and/or privileges at the expense of the others.
Manipulation differs from general influence and persuasion. Persuasion is the ability to move a person or persons to a desired action, usually within the context of a specific goal. Influence and persuasion are neither positive nor negative. Influence is generally perceived to be harmless as it respects the right of the influenced to accept or reject it, and is not unduly coercive.