We already talked about collaboration as a life strategy for success on this website.
See for example:
- 4 Fundamental Strategies for Power: an overview on applying collaboration and win-win in life
However, we haven’t talked about who exactly is the enlightened collaborator, and what it consists of.
And we haven’t clarified why it’s superior to both naive collaboration, or cynic defection.
This post address this all-important topic.
Collaboration: It Starts With Mindsets
The mindset always comes first.
The mindset precedes the strategies.
The collaborator mindset is the belief that win-win is possible and preferable.
The collaborator mindset is what leads you to approach people and situations asking yourself first how a win-win could be reached.
That of course that doesn’t necessarily mean that win-win will always be possible.
And it doesn’t even mean that you enter all relationships that present a potential win-win, either.
Some of those exchanges might add too little of a benefit, or you might have other priorities in life.
The collaborator mindset does however mean that you assess new people and scan new situations asking yourself how win-win could be achieved.
The collaborator mindset is what makes a win-win strategy possible.
And by approaching life with the win-win mindset in mind, you increase the odds that:
- you will find more opportunities for win-win
- you will create more opportunities for win-win by looking for ways with which win-win could be achieved
- you will enter and enter into more win-win exchanges and relationships
The final result?
More value created, more power, and more happiness.
No guarantees, but enlightenment helps
It bears repeating.
It takes two to tango.
And it takes two to collaborate.
Since you cannot always control what others will do, your collaborative mindset does NOT guarantee win-win.
That would be a naive way of looking at life (“naive cooperator”).
But a collaborator mindset allows for win-win. You still need to find, assess, and filter through for other cooperative individuals with whom to play/enter into win-win relationships.
And that’s where the enlightened collaborator makes a difference.
The enlightened collaborator actively seeks expertise on crucial life skills such as:
This is the knowledge that transforms you from a simple collaborator, into a Jedi social strategist ready for life’s success.
Defection: It Also Starts With (Cynic) Mindsets
There is quite some cynicism permeating our world.
The popular literature on power -see “The 48 Laws of Power“- largely rests on cynicism and on dog-eat-dog philosophy.
And it’s not wrong. It’s actually a great book. But, as we shall see, it’s also not the whole picture.
It’s only the dark side of the moon portion.
And you’re not gonna be successful if you stay stuck in the dark.
But there are bigger threats when it comes to “poisonous cynicism”.
Popular movements such as feminism and the red pill are also both based on massive doses of cynicism.
Many feminists and red-pill men learn to approach life with a win-lose view of relationships, and the belief that win-win is hardly possible, or outright impossible.
Cynicism: A Manipulative Siren Against PC
In a way, I can see why cynicism is so successful.
Political correctness and much of popular self-help are so out of touch with reality that cynicism sounds more “real”.
Unluckily, going from an extreme to another is rarely the solution. And the full-on cynicism is the equivalent of the Ulysses sirens calling.
And those cynic sirens only deliver loneliness, anger, and bitterness.
Some of the “leaders” of cynic and win-lose movements are manipulators who make up enemies for personal power
At the extreme, a cynic mindset believes that people -or a certain group of people- are too selfish, manipulative, and untrustworthy to ever do anything out of kindness, or to ever enter a win-win relationship.
If you’re a reader around here, I’m sure you can already see the issue with that: if you don’t believe that win-win is even possible, how are you ever going to achieve it?
Answer: it’s either someone shoves it down your throat till you finally realize “ugh, it’s possible” or, more likely… It ain’t gonna happen.
Indeed, the far likelier tragedy of ultra-cynicism is that cynicism creates its own world of lose-lose (“self-fulfilling prophecy”).
Donald Trump: A Case Study for Cynic “Always-on” Competition
In politics, Trump is a great example of the cynic self-fulfilling prophecy.
I’m almost glad the Trump phenomenon happened, since it provides the perfect case study.
Trump proves that what happens when an ultra-cynic approaches relationships with a competition first mindset and refuses too many chances for cooperation.
And what happens is that he creates a world of enemies.
Read more here:
Or just take a look at this picture:
Sure, CNN is biased.
But we can probably agree Trump made way too many enemies.
The Cynic Mindset
Harriet Braiker in “Who’s Pulling Your Strings“, describes the psychology of manipulators.
The “manipulator’s mindset” Braiker describes is the same as the win-lose mindset we are discussing here.
And in game theory, it’s also described as “defecting”.
In brief, conversely to the enlightened, win-win mindset, the defector mindset believes that win-win is neither possible, nor ideal.
This is how the cynic thinks:
- You either play or get played: it’s a zero-sum world of dog eat dog. You either play, or you get played
- There is no win-win: in a zero-sum world full of nasty people, there cannot be win-win
- Relationships between equals do not exist: it’s either one wins, or he loses. And since nobody wants to lose, they want to make sure their partner loses
- You cannot trust others: since everyone is out to play you, defectors obviously cannot trust others.
Some cynics and inveterate defectors also see themselves as untrustworthy and are proud of it.
On ThePowerMoves we call this attitude “proud-value taking”.
Proving The Ultra-Cynicism False: Game Theory
The prisoner’s dilemma offers a simple way to test the win-lose approach.
Take this variation of the prisoner’s dilemma:
- Win-win: they both get $10
- Win-lose: the defector gets $20 and the cheated gets nothing
- Lose-lose: they both get $1
The cheater “wins big” the first time.
But as soon as the game is repeated, the collaborator most likely adjusts his strategy to defect as well, and the game turns into a lose-lose for both (Nash Equilibrium). If you run this game for 3-4 times the defector strategy is a losing one.
As a matter of fact, the more you run the game (repeated game), the bigger the opportunity loss.
What are these repeated games in real-life?
Repeated games are our relationships.
Our friends, spouses, brothers, sisters, colleagues, neighbors… These are our real-life repeated games.
And the cynic loses opportunities for collaborative and healthy relationships with the most important people in life.
The game is simplistic, of course.
And yet, it offers a good approximation of many real-life relationships (it has “high external validity”).
The Different Mindsets Leading to Totally Opposite Lives
Post-interviews confirm the two different mindsets.
Cooperators who played against defectors shrug it off saying that the game is just like real life, and there are all different sorts of people -and they’re right-.
Cooperators walk away that are still open to future collaboration and win-win.
But the defector?
The defector walks away that he has shaped his reality to one of cynic win-lose, and he then uses that reality of his own making to justify his own strategy and life approach.
Many defectors don’t even realize that it’stheir own distrusting approach to life that breeds distrusts, aggression, and win-lose approaches from other people.
The collaborative reality of collaborative mindsets
The life experience for people who believe that cooperation is possible is much different.
Trusting people who allow for the possibility that others can, on occasion, choose to behave altruistically and/or generously can choose to cooperate because it is rational and adaptive will be open to the possibility of trusting relationships.Braiker, 2013
If you approach the world with an open but realistic attitude that allows for both kinds of people—trusting souls and self-promoting competitors—your experiences will mirror your expectations. You likely will meet both kinds of people and have the opportunity to form relationships in which mutual trust and cooperation exist and are cherished by both participants.
For a deeper analysis on the failure of “ultra-cynicism”, read:
Abundance HR mentality
To me, this is a form of abundance mentality.
This is abundance mentality when it comes to “human resources”.
Since there are countless of people, and a good chunk of them are awesome people happy to collaborate, it means that the scope of collaboration and win-win is almost infinite to you.
All you gotta do, is to find them.
The Enlightened Collaborator Approach
The basic of smart collaboration is simple:
Collaborate with collaborators, and avoiding cheats.
The enlightened collaborator is power intelligent and, as such, a realist. He accepts that social exchanges entail a risk, since people are not always trustworthy and dependable, and interests can misalign with anyone.
It also accepts the reality that not only people’s predisposition and characters differ, but that context also matters, and the same people can behave differently -or change behavior- as the context changes.
But the enlightened collaborator’s approach runs deeper.
The enlightened collaborator takes it upon himself to protect the downsides while increasing the pie of the exchanges:
- Incentivize and increase the scope of collaboration
- Disincentive defection & cheating
- Lead towards collaboration
- Minimize “exchange risks”
Since collaboration brings benefits to anyone, the enlightened collaborator increases the scope and opportunities for cooperation.
Some of the technique he deploys:
- Collaborative reframing: the mindsets and techniques to turn and steer relationships towards win-win. Linked above is the example of collaborative reframing to improve a relationship that was teetering on the verge of competition and one-upmanship
- Collaborative shaming: “collaborative shaming” is a specific technique part of “collaborative reframing”. It consists of shaming people who are playing win-lose games in an effort to lead them towards a more fruitful win-win for both. Collaborative shaming against shit-tests: an example on using collaborative shaming to handle female shit-tests
- Frame cementing: once a positive and collaborative frame has been set “cementing” strengthen that frame and increases its power and its ability to influence behavior over the long term
- “I’m glad we agree”: a power move to cap a win-win frame remind people that you both agreed on a course of action that is good for both
- WIIFT: approaching people with a mindset of “what’s in it for them” increases the chances that they will see the exchange as win-win, which in turn increases the chances they will want to collaborate
- Sticking with value-adding collaborators: so simple, yet such a crucial life hack. When you find good people in your life, keep them! You found a treasure, cherish it.
Decreasing the scope for defection
You can never be 100% sure someone is not going to cheat.
But life is not about “100% certitudes”, but a question of odds.
And there is plenty of things that the enlightened collaborators can do to increase the odds he deals with honest collaborators who will be adding value and not looking for ways to scam him.
- Assessing people: the enlightened collaborator seeks knowledge of psychology and power dynamics to help him assess people and discern cynic defectors and “Machiavellian collaborators” from more honest collaborators
- Collaborative foot forward: it means to start with collaboration and/or with a warm and friendly opening. the enlightenment collaborator, knowing psychology, knows that the best way to start a win-win is to open with a win-win. That approaches increases social trust right off from the bat and makes more friends and allies.
- Strings-attached giving: give, but while keeping some form of leverage (ie.: the option of taking something back)
- Test-giving: give freely, demand nothing back, act like you don’t care. Then, keep an eye on who is grateful for your giving, who is not, and who just asks for more
- Looking dumber: this works both to test people, and to increase the odds that a possible attack or manipulation will be easy to fend off, or to recoup from, since people will be more careless
- Keeping a few aces up his sleeve: imagine you got an alarm system and a motion-activated camera recording system. You can share about the alarm, but you keep the information about the camera private. You never know who you catch going through your stuff
- Silver medal technique: to decrease the incentives for lying and cheating by making it about two attractive options one can get, rather than about an attractive option, or nothing
And, finally, knowing when win-win exchange are not possible, or not possible without coercion:
- Keeping a safe distance: once you spot a manipulator, always avoid getting too close. Either cut them out, fade them, or keep them at a distance
- Seek power to avoid win-lose: the enlightened collaborator knows that powerlessness is dangerous. When you have no power you are the mercy of others. And, being this world also composed by predatory folks, you better not be at anyone’s mercy
Social exchange techniques
And some more slightly elaborated techniques:
- Fair value marketing: one of the core techniques of win-win framing and strengthening.
- Promotion: to promote one’s value-provision effectively, and in a way that they are recognized by the other party.
- Appreciation: to appreciate the value contributions of other(s) to make them feel valued and appreciated. It also indirectly frames the exchange as win-win, while encouraging them to keep on giving to meet your appreciation and gratitude (can turn into a positive judge frame). Example in Power University.
- Here’s tit, where’s tat: a technique to give or to remind of your value giving before you ask for something. It serves to remind people that you have given in good fait and it increases the odds they’ll give back
- Credit collection: to remind people of your value giving, which indirectly reminds them that it’s also supposed of them to remain collaborative and give back
- Positive displays of leverage: to remind people of your leverage in the exchange, but to do so within a positive frame.
See an example here:
“It deserves a good review” is a positive display of leverage, as it indirectly reminds him of my negotiation leverage on him.
For more, also read: “fundamental strategies of power“.
Dating With Enlightened Collaboration
The enlightened collaborator mindset well extends to dating and relationships as well.
Depending on the partner, early dating might require less -or more strategic- giving and more strategic display of value and/or power in the beginning, see:
But as the relationship unfolds collaboration and win-win come back to the fore for developing a strong and healthy relationship:
Or famed researcher John Gottman says that strong relationships have collaborating partners who build each other up and share power and influence (Gottman, 1999):
- Accepting influence: The key to relationship success
When Needed: Machiavellian Collaboration
the enlightened collaborator is not just stuck to “collaborate” or “non collaborate”.
And he can also adopt a strategy of “opportunistic collaboration” mixed with “opportunistic defection”.
The name “Machiavellian collaboration” might sound devious and amoral and, in some cases, it is amoral.
But, in some situations, it can be fair game.
In competitive environments where one person only can win, the enlightened collaborator might prefer to avoid entering any win-win exchange if he feels that he gives more value than he takes.
This can be an effective strategy in dating, for example, as well as in workplace environments.
Workplaces are grey areas environments that are not fully zero-sum, but where rewards and promotions are not infinite either.
We already showed that Machiavellians tend to win in the office.
But which strategy will work depends on your context, so you must judge what’s effective on a case by case basis.
For more, refer to:
A collaborator mindset is what allows you to establish win-win relationships.
The enlightened collaborator, equipped and trained with power dynamics knowledge, is the next step along the line of personal evolution.
But it all starts with a collaborator’s mindset first, and the belief that collaboration is possible.
Don’t let the cynics drag you down.
Make friends, and develop value-adding relationships, instead. I’ve personally experienced it hundreds of times. And life is much better that way.