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Avoid short-term "power hoarding" at long-term costs: it loses you the best people

I thought this post by @kavalier was awesome, but didn't reply there to stay on topic.

However, on second thoughts, it deserves its own place and thread as this is a common pitfall for some (bold is mine):

Quote from Kavalier on October 15, 2022, 4:55 pm

I fully agree with Lucio when he says that not apologizing hoards power, but disempowers others. And I'd argue that this "hoarding power" effect works only in the short run. In the long run, disempowering others disempowers yourself. I'm more and more convinced that empowerment can never be individual. True power is social – it depends on how many people you have by your side (and how powerful these people are).

Absolutely.

Of course there are some exceptions and special situations, as for everything, but generally speaking, it's a poor approach to socialization and life.

In the beginning of TPM we'd have called this "power dickhead-dom", or to seek power with total disregard for others (now that we improved our vocabulary we may say a "failure to fly higher with the eagles").
Avoiding a fair apology is a form of social scalping and, no reference to the previous thread here, it's a potential red flag of an abusive personality (sociopaths stubbornly refuse to apologize when an apology is in called for and engage in what's sometimes referred to as "word salad" to avoid ever admitting fault).

An apology is a particularly telling one because it's easy to do, and seems to be a sticking point for many power hungry and win-lose personalities.

But there are more behaviors that also fall under this "power hoarding" approach.
The worst is when one hoards power by avoiding something that's both socially expected and easy to do, like:

  • Apology, when called for, including when blame is shared and someone apologized first
  • Thanking someone for a favor
  • Buying your round of drinks / your turn to invite (you know the guy who disappears when it's his turn? Yeah, nobody likes that guy 🙂
  • Building someone up after they built you up
  • Giving credit for what they've given and/or after they gave you your proper credit (covert questions are a form of credit withholding)

From a personality and reflag point of view it's bad because it sub-communicates that one is willing to wrong you and sour the relationship just to keep a shred of power.

And from an effectiveness point of view, it's bad because, that approach will retain more power for you, but as Kavalier says that power is really small and temporary.
Keep doing that, and any high-quality people in your life will soon take off.

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naathh12@gmail.comBel
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Thank you Lucio,

this is a very very helpful post, especially as to the behaviors that come across as power hoarding.

It does trigger questions about some of my past behavior.

In a situation of “shared blame” and person A apologizing: assuming that person B doesn’t think the “shared blame” merits apologies (eg because it was a minimal reciprocal social mishap on the part of the two people, or person B thinks that the other was more at fault than oneself), would answering “there’s no need to apology” be a good way to reempower person A, or would it come across as even more power-hoarding?

My question derives from the fact that I’m starting to think “no need to apology” might be interpreted (as “no problem”) as a way of shaming the other.

If that’s the case, apologizing in return even when one sees no big fault on either part could be the best thing to do in any case, ie irrespectively of whether one feels that the situations merits an apology or not; just based on the fact that the other person did in fact apologize.

Also, as to the building up someone who built you up: let’s say a manipulative person builds me up, but I really don’t think much of him, eg because of things he did to me in the past. Would building him up in return still be the best thing to do relationship-wise, ie even if it was insincere?

I ask this because I now feel that when a situation like this happened, and I didn’t build the other back up, the manipulation may have ramped up.

So also here a default stance of “always building back up” could be better.

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Lucio BuffalmanoKavalier

Great points and questions, Bel.

First off, I want to start saying two important things I've noticed over and over:

  1. It's always the good people who worry about not being an asshole, and sometimes that worry may be over-estimated, because:
  2. Non-assholes rarely act as assholes/sociopaths, even when unaware. Still possible of course, so worth learning, but as of now I haven't seen many "good people" do poorly socially or in life because they're unwittingly behaving as assholes/sociopaths. The opposite issue, "too low power" is more common instead

A few quick notes:

Quote from Bel on October 16, 2022, 1:19 pm

In a situation of “shared blame” and person A apologizing: assuming that person B doesn’t think the “shared blame” merits apologies (eg because it was a minimal reciprocal social mishap on the part of the two people, or person B thinks that the other was more at fault than oneself), would answering “there’s no need to apology” be a good way to reempower person A, or would it come across as even more power-hoarding?

I think it's generally fair to say "no need to apologize" -especially if it was really inconsequential-.

Just to be sure though, one may add something like:

"no need to apologize because it was nothing, really, and if it was anything, we both contributed to it anyway, so all good"

Something like that.

However, it won't hurt to say it anyway.
It's a good idea to match the other person just in case there might have been a different read of the situation and to make extra sure you can move on without (emotional) wounds.
That's just the highest odds option to keep a good relationship and a friend, rather than someone who mentally raises a red flag or, worst, resents you.

Fairness Overlap With Power Dynamics & Strategies

This all seems to be about kindness, and while kindness is also part it, this is also pure power dynamics and social strategies.

As a matter of fact, this is even more helpful with higher power people -who can often better see these dynamics-, and even more helpful with dangerous people, in more dangerous environments.

It's not by accident that many criminal outfits make a big show of power protecting and saving face.

A good example from The Goodfellas when it comes to apologies:

Billy: (power moves and annoys Tommy several times) I'm breaking your balls a little bit, why are you getting so fucking fresh, I'm sorry I didn't mean to offend you... 
Tommy: I'm sorry too, it's OK, no problem ( <- he was being attacked and covertly attacked, he didn't technically need to say sorry, but he knows that in that environment power protecting is extremely important, so he just says it anyway. He doesn't lose much power anyway, if at all, and it's super helpful to move on and re-establish a win-win -or at least, avoiding an enemy-. It didn't work that way later as we'll find out, but he still did his part well)

Edit:
Notice that Tommy gets particularly angry after that because he was tricked into a truce, and later attacked once more.
Being lured into the social trap and taken for a ride made him a naive sucker of the exchange, and it's often pisses people off.
It's not too different when people apologize first, but don't see an apology coming back: they feel they've been socially scalped and like they've been turned into a sucker by the power hoarder. That's what you want to avoid with the "extra apology".

In Doubt, Add Rather Than Subtract

Personally, in doubt, I'd rather add the apology, than remove it.

Ali recently said here, a good measure of good a relationship is the number of thank you and sorry.

And while of course there's an optimum balance for those too, he's right in the principle.

There was another thread from Ali as well actually, with a real-life WhatsApp convo where I said that I added the "sorry" even though I didn't think it was needed because in a good relationship with good people, extra is better than less (since it's less about power and you don't risk being taken advantage of, then it's generally better to focus on preserving the win-win and the good you already have).
I looked for it for a few minutes, but couldn't find it.

That's just me though.
A good rule of thumb:

  • The smaller and more inconsequential the issue, the more you can forge ahead. The more significant it was, the more you want to own it, apologize, and match the other person's apology
Bel has reacted to this post.
Bel
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?
Quote from Bel on October 16, 2022, 1:19 pm

Also, as to the building up someone who built you up: let’s say a manipulative person builds me up, but I really don’t think much of him, eg because of things he did to me in the past. Would building him up in return still be the best thing to do relationship-wise, ie even if it was insincere?

I ask this because I now feel that when a situation like this happened, and I didn’t build the other back up, the manipulation may have ramped up.

So also here a default stance of “always building back up” could be better.

Building Up: Drop It When It Was Manipulative Or Power-Moving

Do you have an example?

Generally speaking, in those cases, I'd ignore.

For example, LoF was being very complimentary his post regarding the article he references and that I wrote. And I appreciated it.
HOWEVER, the article he mentioned was being used as a (bad) reference against me in that present exchange, so the compliment served his aim to increase the authority of the reference against me -and to potentially appear nicer while instead delivering a power move-.
Plus, the (unwitting) power move was far bigger. It was the "main dish", so those compliments were at most more like window dressing to me, and I largely ignored them all.

But mentioned it if they're successful at coming across as "nice" while instead damaging you

Edit:

But if they're building you up as technique to sound nicer while instead delivering their power moves, and if they're being effective at it, then you need to address it.

If you don't, then they can succeed to come across as "nice" while you look like an asshole.

In that case, you can address their manipulative build-ups saying something like:

  • Thank you for the kind words, and at the same time, I need to address...
  • Overall, if it weren't for X nasty thing, your message would be fantastic (ie.: "nice job in trying to sound nice, but you're still being a cunt")
  • You're also great man, and this for me isn't about us as human beings, it's about this specific thing/pattern of behaviors
Bel has reacted to this post.
Bel
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Thank you, Lucio! It feels good, after going through PU again and again, to reach a stage where I can start to make small contributions to TPM. And then you take that one contribution and BOOOOOM!!! You go deeper on it and give me tons of new things to learn!!

Bel has reacted to this post.
Bel

Thank you Lucio,

your posts are unbelievably helpful and I join Kavalier in saying they contain tons of new things for us to learn.

As to the situation I was referring to about the "building up", I was thinking of a former colleague "friend of mine" who pulled quite some moves on me (intentional delay in answering me, telling me he would call and then "forgetting", one-upping me in front of a client of mine I had asked him help with).

He later called me and said on the phone:

Him: I am very happy to have you as a friend. And as a very good colleague I can count on. It makes things easier.

Me: (silence)

Him: Don't you share this feeling?

Me: Yes of course, it's good to have a colleague to count on [but I was thinking: WTF?]

I understand the issue was that I simply hadn't checked any of his moves, so he likely thought I was okay with all of them.

At the time my only solution was "ignore". And later I dropped him without talking / explaining.

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Lucio BuffalmanoKavalier
Quote from Bel on October 16, 2022, 8:52 pm

Thank you Lucio,

your posts are unbelievably helpful and I join Kavalier in saying they contain tons of new things for us to learn.

As to the situation I was referring to about the "building up", I was thinking of a former colleague "friend of mine" who pulled quite some moves on me (intentional delay in answering me, telling me he would call and then "forgetting", one-upping me in front of a client of mine I had asked him help with).

He later called me and said on the phone:

Him: I am very happy to have you as a friend. And as a very good colleague I can count on. It makes things easier.

Me: (silence)

Him: Don't you share this feeling?

Me: Yes of course, it's good to have a colleague to count on [but I was thinking: WTF?]

I understand the issue was that I simply hadn't checked any of his moves, so he likely thought I was okay with all of them.

At the time my only solution was "ignore". And later I dropped him without talking / explaining.

That isn't really building up.

That's more of a request for alliance and entering a "win-win", "you help me, I help you" kind of deal.

It could be manipulative though as he only refers to your giving in that exchange, not his. Feel free to post it somewhere else if you want to talk about it or we'd go off topic here.

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Avoid short-term "power hoarding" at long-term costs: it loses you the best clients

Agree with much of the discussion here.

Wanted to add that this extends to business as well if one wants to avoid losing the best customers/clients.

An example is when I booked the dates for studio time to record the audiobook format of The Social Strategist. We agreed on September 28 and September 29:

As you can see above, for September 28, we were scheduled to work together from 11am to 7pm.

Well, 10:45am came around (which is when it seemed like it made sense to arrive so we could set up in 15 minutes and start at 11am) on that day, and there was no R to be found.

So, I gave him the benefit of the doubt, asking if I have the right address:

The times aren't displayed above, but by the time he'd responded, it was already 11am (10:56am to be exact) and he hadn't picked up the phone when I called or responded to the voicemail I'd left him as I sat in the parking lot waiting for his arrival.

So, when he responded with, "Yes, when do you have scheduled?" I was both a bit confused and upset.

It's his responsibility to keep his calendar organized, so he should already know when I'm scheduled for.

So, rather than tell him (which I felt would put me power-down now), I nudge him to invest the effort of rereading our conversation (which is his responsibility in a case like this, in my opinion) and realize for himself that he'd messed up (which I felt was the assertive thing to do in this situation).

In response, he:

  • Began texting back immediately: which was a respect-giving way of not making me wait any longer
  • Offered a full refund: giving me an out if I no longer wanted to work with him
  • Gave an apology: which helped smooth things over for me

Unfortunately, now I still had to make the 2-hour drive back home empty-handed which he understood without me even having to say it.

So, he continued:

I ask him to volunteer what he thinks a fair refund would be in this case to assess his character which would be a great indicator for me of whether or not I should go through with working with him or find someone else.

We ended up finding a way forward that I felt was totally fair (a good discount) and I thank him again for his willingness to make up for the mistake—as opposed to him power-hoarding by saying something like:

Power-Hoarder: "Aw man, looks like my calendar messed up (blame-shifting manipulation: puts the blame on the calendar software), can we reschedule (refuses an apology or value-giving to rebalance things)?"

When I thank him, he begins to open up:

I'd say a part of it is because as much as he had the opportunity to power-hoard, I also could've used his apologies as an opportunity to power scalp, saying unnecessary (and uncalled for) shit like "don't let it happen again".

But, instead, I do my best to be collaborative and he seems to appreciate it.

He gave a total of four apologies in this conversation which was at least one or two too many, in my opinion, but definitely made me feel he'd re-empowered me.

And, guess what? We recorded an awesome audiobook together that'll be finished soon and if you guys like it too, he'll likely be the go-to guy for our future books.

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Lucio Buffalmano

Great case study, Ali!

And yes, confirms that if you do something wrong but:

  1. Own up to it
  2. Genuinely apologize
  3. Make up for it

Then, often, you end up better off and with more trust, respect, and social capital.

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Ali Scarlett
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?
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