Many people look at social dynamics, pickup, or whatever you want to call it as textbook manipulation. The fact couldn't be farther from the truth for most practicioners. It's all about presenting yourself in a positive light, or putting your best foot forward as some would call it. It boils down to good old-fashioned self-improvement.
If your people skills are lacking, learning how to improve them is not manipulation no matter what the naysayers would have you believe. It's simply learning a new skill set and improving your social skills thereby enhancing your options. That's not manipulation, that's nature with a nudge.