Spotting Group Manipulation Techniques to Push Agendas

Posted on August 18, 2014


Steve Mensing, Editor

♦ Over the years I’ve watched the growth of manipulative training seminars teaching their graduates how to successfully push questionable agendas and level opposition in the path of “progress”.  Often such training seminars teach their students how to flatten those standing in the path of sustainable initiatives and alleged “progressive” agendas.  Many of the new trainings borrow their techniques from the playbook of large group awareness seminars and from psychological cults.  Perhaps we’ve already experienced some of these techniques employed by city staffers in Salisbury.  Maybe you recall the many who came out to oppose to the Statesville Blvd. Road Diet saw the infamous “Delphi Technique” in action. The Delphi Technique is a divide and conquer technique frequently employed to divide the opposition and mute it. That’s one example of the manipulative techniques employed to push agendas in group settings.

In our reading through a large number of Freedom of Information Act inquiries we noted several manipulative techniques being called for in group settings to overcome opposition to city hall’s consensus building agendas.

Here are common manipulative techniques used to push agendas in group settings:

The Delphi Technique employed to divide the opposition and take control over it.  Maybe one of the most commonly used group manipulation techniques.  A previous Rowan Free Press article describing the Delphi Technique and its divisive power:

https://rowanfreepress.com/2012/09/06/the-delphi-technique-city-employs-manipulative-method-at-statesville-blvd-meeting/

Stacking the deck: loading up a group with supporters and have them read scripted “talking points“.  Stacking the deck gives the appearance of consensus.  During the 329 S. Main hardsell, the city heavily recruited downtown merchants and school employees to fill city council and give the appearance of consensus.  We’ve witnessed “stacking the deck” down at the county commission where a small and belligerent group read scripts that attacked the county commissioners.

Linking an agenda with something that sounds high-sounding or positive.  Examples: The environment, the rain forest, animals, alternative power, save the big cats.

Framing agendas and its supporters in positive terms and the opposition in negative terms.  Examples: Calling supporters “forward thinking”, “progressive”,  “creative”, and “visionary”.  Negatively framing the opposition.  Examples “Negative thinkers”, “Critics.” “Stuck”.

The use of prearranged table leaders who control the flow of discussion and thwart opposition input.

Group leaders speak from the us or we.

Not inviting anyone known to oppose the agenda or checking out the group at the start for anyone who might be in the opposition. Finding ways to keep them out of the conversation.

The use of common propaganda techniques in discussions.    Here is a previous RFP article about common propaganda techniques:

https://rowanfreepress.com/2012/04/19/propaganda-the-art-of-hidden-persuasion/

• Plants in the audience who may disrupt and distract the opposition by changing the conversation or going off topic.

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