A primer on power: just with this module you'll be ahead of 90% of your peers.4
Social Skills - Advanced
Possibly the best overview of social skills and social strategies12
Social Power Dynamics
With this module you will fully understand how power applies to your everyday socialization12
Simply the best resource on frame control currently available6
Most information on becoming a true high-flyer career is standard plain vanilla advice . Not that it's not valid, but it's only half of the coin. This module will teach you the other half that nobody teaches.14
Women Winning at Work3
Dating & Seduction
I perused all the best dating books and courses, plus hundreds of psychology and evolutionary psycholody research, combined with years of personal experience. This module is probably the quickest way to truly learn how dating works.14
Dating & Seduction (Women)4
Relationship Power Dynamics
Mainstream relationship advice forgets that male-female relationships mask inherent conflicts, while "Red Pill" advice focusing on conflict leads to poor relationships. This module fills the gap with information and advice to help you structure real-life working relationship based12
All previous modules set the basis for this one, the ultimate stage of social empowerment: leadership6
Mastering Difficult Social Situations
When the going gets tough... You know the mantra. This module is dedicated to fringe social scenarios8
Social Finessing: Mini Case-Studies to Increase Your Power (Part I)
This is a preview lesson.
It introduces some real-life applications and examples of the general principles we saw in previous modules.
If you are seeing this as a preview, be aware that this lesson is a bonus add-on.
For the general principles and strategies, refer to the CORE lessons.
- #1. Follow to Keep Leading
- #2. Break the Rules by Showing Respect for The People
- #3. To Keep Power, Invite Others to Take Power
- #4. When Low-Status Folks Give Orders: Ignore Them
- #5. Social Blow Offs: Executing & Defending
- #6. Say “Cheers” Instead of “Thanks”
- #7. Capping Social Losses With the Last Word
- #8. Dealing With the “what are you, X?” Gambit
- #9. Create a Precedent to Legitimize Your Future Aggression
#1. Follow to Keep Leading
Power that lasts, adapts.
The best ways to break rapport, lose friends, make enemies and become a social pariah is to try to overpower people all the time.
Socially effective individuals instead know when it’s time to follow to regain the lead later.
Look at this example:
Lucio: (Being a bit too forceful) You’re doing it all wrong, show more confidence like this!
Audience: (Pause, then nervous laughter, then gathering speed)
Lucio: (Realizes he was being too forceful, so smiles and makes a joke) Got it? (making fun of his own overly forceful delivery, thus taking the edge off and becoming warmer)
This was a case of too much competence / dominance, too little warmth.
As soon as I finished delivering my piece someone in the audience laughed, and a few followed.
You can see that as a frame war: remaining serious, or following the audience and have a laugh?
Looking sternly at the people laughing, one could have probably “won” the “frame war” and come across as super dominant.
But for what?
Think about it: how would have one come across, had he not laughed? As stiff, stuck up, thin-skinned and more hell-bent on “winning” than on relating and helping people improve.
Following was by far the best course of action.
I chose to see the irony myself and joined them.
The laughter helped me keep a good rapport with the audience.
But as the person delivering feedback, I also needed to reclaim the “authority” position, and even with the “humor frame”, I still maintain the authority position of the one providing valuable feedback.
I deliver the “got it?” line with the unspoken irony of the “bossy” host, followed by the “so do it next time” which, even if jokingly, also shows that I am not justifying or backtracking from my role.
#2. Break the Rules by Showing Respect for The People
This is a good one.
It’s based on the idea that people don’t like bullies who take things through sheer force.
However, people are happy to close one eye -or both- when it’s a charming person to break the rules.
That’s why Clinton could bend the rules without getting much social blowback while Trump is socially pilloried and is constantly battling the press.
Clinton was charming, and he always made a show of respecting both the people and the democratic process.
And that’s why he could ultimately also break more rules.
See this real-life example here:
Lucio: Yes, I see that, my time is up.
I respect that.
Just one more minute to deliver some more value to you (proceeds to break the rules while everyone loves him for breaking them)
The woman sees the red card signaling that her time is over. But she publicly scorns it and keeps on going as if she were above the rules.
Her reaction communicates “to hell the rules, I’m above them” (and you guys are not).
It’s dominant, very dominant.
But as we’ve seen plenty of times, dominance often builds resentment and erodes your power in the long run. It’s far more powerful to do what you want without alienating others.
Or better yet, to do what you want while also persuading others to join your team, on your side.
And to truly flaunt the rules effectively you want to look like you respect the rule -and the people behind those rules-. Then people allow you more latitude because, first, you seem a pro-social person who respects the bigger group.
And second, it feels like this is just an exception.
And of course, you notice the basics of power here at play, again.
Her delivery is confrontational.
It’s “me, for her, but against you all” (confrontational frame)
My delivery is within a frame of “me, for her, with her, but also with you all, and for you all” (collaborative frame, and “servant leadership” style).
Try to take a guess who was the one most listened to, most beloved, but also more respected and more accepted and wanted as a leader?
Easy to answer, right?
Be more like me in that video, and set up win-win.
#3. To Keep Power, Invite Others to Take Power
This scene is good.
Kenny and Mayweather are locking horns trying to speak over one another:
Floyd: Am I gonna speak my piece or not
Kenny: Go ahead!
Kenny gives up.
In a way, he submits.
But because he tells Mayweather to go ahead, he is still in control and he is still the one with the power.
Later on, he sets the final nail in the coffin when he tells Floyd “Floyd, go ahead, I’m waiting on ya”.
You can use the same technique when negotiating the right of way.
For example, when I’m reaching the escalator at the same time as someone else, I sometimes invite them to go first with a hand gesture.
We avoid a battle, I act prosocial, and I also look in control over my environment.
#4. When Low-Status Folks Give Orders: Ignore Them
When someone tells you what to do, you’re almost automatically the subservient party.
That’s OK when someone is obviously your boss.
But there are situations when you’re generally more powerful, but someone with domain authority treats you curtly and unfriendly.
Imagine a dirty worker at a construction site telling where you’re allowed to walk, or a waiter in a busy restaurant telling you where to sit.
These are usually (socially) lower status, but since you’re in their environment, they’re also the domain authorities.
You can hardly avoid following in those scenarios and you can’t escalate without looking like you’re overreacting.
What do you do then?
Well, if they were being slightly rude, one option is to follow while not treating them as equals.
And a great way of doing so is to ignore them.
For example: follow what they said without acknowledging them and while looking away.
McGregor does it very well here:
Or you can say “thank you” in a very dominant way and without looking at them, thus framing them like the helper who’s there to serve you.
4.2. If You Get Lectured: Don’t Acknowledge the Lecture
Another option is to “take ownership” of possible criticism.
Imagine you were about to take your drink from the waitress tray and she rebukes you:
Waitress: nono, never take the drink from the tray
You: (corrugating your eyebrows) wow, that’s very friendly
Waitress: when you take the drink from the tray, the balance goes out of whack and all drinks spill over
(she’s lecturing here, which makes you lose power if you accept the lecture)
You: yeah, no, we keep it balanced
See the power move?
Anything such as “sorry I didn’t know that” or “yeah you’re right” confirms her teacher’s role over you.
But by refusing to acknowledge the lecture, you refuse to take the “pupil” role.
4.3. If You Get Passive-Aggressive Criticism: Ignore It
Similarly, if someone seeks to criticize without having the courage of saying so directly, ignore it.
They should have the courage to talk straight, and if you address it, you send the message that passive aggression is OK.
And you don’t want to cultivate that environment.
Seen an example here:
But take note of the reaction: it’s an important sign when people laugh at the criticism. It means they either agree or they have some gripe against you.
If the message above was meant to be a criticism of my leadership style, I expect it to come to me directly and honestly, not as a joke in a public forum.
In these cases, you should probably either ignore it, treat is a joke or take it offline with the person who’s leveling the criticism.
If you are not sure about the effectiveness of your leadership though you must also take it as potentially important feedback.
#5. Social Blow Offs: Executing & Defending
A very dominant way to cut an interaction short is to shake their hand and tell them with a firm tone:
You: Alright, it was nice seeing you
And then look at them expectantly.
See Paulie doing something similar here:
Paulie: Now I gotta turn my back (look at him expecting him to leave)
But what if someone does it to you?
Defending Against Blow-Offs
In that case, you don’t want to leave right away or you give them too much power over you.
If you’re in a group, respond with a neutral “thanks man” and then make a question to someone else in the group.
Just a quick question with an easy answer and then you’ll go. The goal is simply to show you are not complying to the asshole. Even acknowledging your mistake is fine, asking something like “you guys were having some private conversation or something”. Then whatever they reply, leave without looking at the person who invited you to leave.
If their power move was nasty and you can allow yourself to disrespect him -ie if it’s not your boss- you can laugh out loud and say “ahaha nasty nasty SOB”, between the facetious and serious.
And then slap his upper arm in a friendly way.
Then say goodbye to the other person(s) in the group and leave.
The power mover might come later to you to see amend.
Or you might make an enemy with that. But it’s not like he was a friend anyway.
#6. Say “Cheers” Instead of “Thanks”
Do you remember the power move of telling people “good job” or “well done”?
When you answer “thanks” you accept their judgment and, by extension, their power position over you.
Sometimes you want to avoid that and, to rebalance the power dynamics, you want to avoid “thanks”.
Enters “cheers”, which is far more neutral than “thanks”.
Boss: great job on that sales presentation Matt, you rocked it
You: (thinking “dumbass, I’m the only one here who can sell, who does he think he is to judge me”) Yeah, I hope so, let’s see how it goes. Cheers!
#7. Capping Social Losses With the Last Word
Imagine this situation on a plane:
Him: Sir, there is no more space, we will have to take your luggage down
You: There is space beneath the seat, I’d rather take it there. Is it OK for you?
(“is it OK for you” gives him power, which prevents him saying “no” just out of spite)
Him: Unluckily that’s not possible
(of course, no persuasion technique works all the times 🙂
You: I see. I would really like to keep it though, there is important stuff that I need to take care of. Can we find a way
(more persuasion, insisting without making it seem like an assault on his authority)
Him: Sir, the luggage will be with you at the conveyor belts as soon as we land
You: I know, but I have a lot of important stuff here, I’m worried about it. Can we find a way.
(keeps pressure on without looking it’s too much pressure)
Him: It’s a straight flight sir, there is no chance we will lose it and we need to take it down for safety reasons. You can give it to me and I’ll take care of it
(understands he’s probably not going to win this one)
You:. (pauses for a second, look at him straight, a slight smile without teeth, raise your index finger in the air and add) Don’t lose it!
Him: (smile) Of course not sir
What just happened there?
After trying to get it your way and buck the authority you realized that insisting was going nowhere.
But you also know that losing after an escalation makes you look powerless (do you remember that wins and losses after escalations carry more weight?).
And that’s when you resorted to a neat technique to almost coming out on top even while losing: putting in a last, dominant word.
In the above exchange, you would have come across as rather dominant even while you folded.
It’s a simple technique that you can use any time you cannot win or when it’s not worth it escalating further (and it’s a real-life dialogue straight from my last flight, BTW).
Defending Against Dominant Last Words
If you are at the receiving end of power endings, don’t say “of course not”. Say nothing if you want to limit your submissiveness.
And if you want to come out on top instead, highlight your win by highlighting their loss.
In the above example, you would say:
Him: (pause for a second, look at him straight, a slight slime without teeth, raise your index finger in the air and add) Don’t lose it!
You: (smile) thank you for complying sir
Don’t worry much about people using it against you though: it simply never happened to me. Most people are taken aback by power endings -or don’t know how to react- and always submit.
#8. Dealing With the “what are you, X?” Gambit
This will get 99% of people in the defensive position.
Here are examples of this childish technique:
1. What are you, 4?
2. What are you, retarded?
3. Man the money is gone, are you a thief or what!
It’s very easy to get offended and go on the defensive here.
Instead, you must stay neutral and retaliate in kind.
Don’t even think of saying “no I’m not”, but either hit back, ignore, or shame them.
This is the hitting back version:
Him: What are you, 4?
You: Don’t know, but that would make you the equivalent of 2, because what you’re saying makes no sense whatsoever
The shaming version would be:
Him: What are you, 4?
You: We’re having a polite discussion between adults, no need to offend. I expect better from you
Here is an example from the movie The Big Short:
You can see both the wrong answer -the first part- and the correct answer -the second part, going right at his hidden motives and under his skin-.
#9. Create a Precedent to Legitimize Your Future Aggression
We saw in module 1 that dominant men allow themselves to touch or take your property.
I had exactly this issue in one of my first stint at work.
I had a colleague far more experienced than I was, and to explain things he would always grab my laptop in a very dominant fashion.
I didn’t like that but I was wary of being too direct in fear that I would come across too touchy and make an enemy within the team.
So I came up with this stratagem: when I finally had to show him something, I took his laptop exactly how he would do with mine.
As I expected, he got annoyed, uttered “hey come on man”, and reclaimed his laptop.
Then I said, “man, I was showing you something”.
That’s it, that was the power move.
It might seem like he “won”, but with that, I created a precedent.
Now it was out in the open that taking people’s property without asking is rude and feels disrespectful.
He stopped taking my laptop the way he used to. And even if he didn’t, I was going to be able to complain without sounding like I was bitching for nothing because he had done the exact same thing.
9.2. Get Denied to Get Rid
Similarly, if you don’t know how to get rid of someone, find a way to piss them off or find a way where they have to deny you or let you down.
A good way is to ask for something they know they won’t provide. Like “I need to talk to you, could we have lunch at X”, where X is somewhere far from their office.
Once they say no, you have an excuse to cut contact with them.
9.3. “Deny Me Games” In Relationships
If you fear that a partner is trying to create problems to get rid of you, don’t address the issue directly.
When you do, you are making it official that you are the party who is taking in the relationship.
See this example:
(behaves emotionally distant until she’s forced to complain)
Her: it would be nice if when we make love you’d be thinking of me
Him: so you wanna end this?
Her: oh, that would be convenient. Save you the guilt. I end it?
With her reply, she is thread-expanding, confirming, and officializing that she is a burden in the relationship.
What you must do instead is take a mental note and then find ways to rebalance the relationship -or finding ways to cut your dependence and end the relationship-.