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Being interrogated

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Hey this is my first time posting on this forum. TPM has helped me a lot in terms of understanding power dynamics and a big shout out to Lucio.

Well recently a couple of incidents happened with my uncle who has an authoritative and controlling personality and is also an hypocrite. I stay at their place and he picks on me. If I tend do to a mistake he points it out and asks me questions like its an interrogation.

1.Uncle: Don't you know you should keep the knife back after using it?

Me: Silent

Uncle: Don't stand there silent answer my question.

Me: I usually do, I forgot this time.

Uncle: what is the point of keeping it back usually, you forgot it this time, yes or no?

Me: Yes I forgot, it was only a knife ( I feel it is a big win for my uncle at this point)

Uncle: If you can't remember the small things how will you remember the big and important things?

Me: With important things I'll be more careful.

Uncle: what is the guarantee you will put it back next time?

Uncle: you were either being careless or absent minded with the knife, what if I had accidentally cut myself?

Me: Neither, I forgot to keep it back. It is a what if scenario you told.

Uncle: It has happened to a few people, is there anything you can do properly.

Me: So many things.

Uncle: How can you forget to keep it back, it is a standard operating procedure. You should always follow the procedure.

2. Uncle: Why are you late for dinner?

Me: There was traffic and I got caught up.

Uncle: if you had  accounted for the traffic, you would not be late.

Me: It took longer than expected.

Uncle: why didn't you inform me you were being late.

Me: I was already on my way.

Uncle: You have no sense of responsibility, you should have known to inform me, I should not even have to tell you this.

 

He is trying to frame me as incompetent either by pointing out I'm forgetful or  else that I do not obey procedures. It is a subtle take on the judge position, if i point out that to him, he will outright deny it.

 

I have tried to counter by saying I had never agreed to the procedure because it was decided without me also For the Don't you know questions I have tried to not be boxed to Yes or No replies.How can I get better at handling these interrogations and even flip the table on him?

Welcome Connor!

Quick notes since this is your first time:

Blockquotes Will Make Reading Conversations Easier

Uncle: Don't you know you should keep the knife back after using it?

Me: Silent

Check out the forum guidelines for more details.

Becoming More Assertive

Check out the article on assertiveness.
It is very relevant in the general mindsets and concepts to deal with your uncle.
Power University has even more details on assertiveness.

Address the Tone

Uncle: Don't you know you should keep the knife back after using it?

You: I find the tone aggressive.

Uncle: You are supposed to keep the knife.

You: I may have made a mistake.
That does not give you the right to use an aggressive tone.
If you use a respectful tone, we can communicate better and have a better relationship.

You seem to mention that you have pointed his behaviour out to him.
However, he seems to deny or continue.
It is quite possible that your uncle is a controlling man.
As such, you may have to reinforce boundaries repeatedly and be a lot more assertive.

Keep the frame on the tone.
Address the tone of your uncle and not the mistake or the task.

Is It Possible to Move Out?

Living with a controlling person is very draining.
Would it be possible to move out?

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Lucio BuffalmanoConnor Jackson

Yeah, this uncle sounds overly competitive and hell-bent on power-scalping and (socially) steamrolling.

If we didn't want to mince words and wanted to keep it simple, we could say he sounds like a real dick.

The style is very much "drill sergeant like", such as:

  • I'm telling/implying that you're shit
  • You confirm me that you're shit
  • I tell you again
  • You take it again
  • I tell you again

And whenever you try to counter it, he takes a different angle to sets that "you're bad" frame.

Repeat that often, and you might start internalizing it. Not cool.

I notice that you in countering you accept the initial frame.
That sets up the slippery slope.

Address the tone, like Matthew say.

Or you ca even accept the mistake, and then again address the attitude:

You: it's true, I am late. My bad. But my main question is: what's the point of making me feel so bad about it, trying to frame me like this total idiot who always does everything wrong?

And then you can go on:

You: Did I kill someone by being late? No, right? When you attack me like that, it makes me feel like I'm this terrible human being for what's, after all, a minor thing.

Basically, you're saying that he's exaggerating, being a dick, and crucially, you eventually want to move it to the basic question: do you hate me, or do you care at all about me?
Because if you care at all, you're not showing right now.

Humanize yourself, show to him and to everyone that he's being hurtful.
And that, if he wants to have an even moderately good relationship, that's not going to fly.

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Matthew WhitewoodConnor Jackson
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?
Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on May 11, 2021, 5:13 am

You: Did I kill someone by being late? No, right? When you attack me like that, it makes me feel like I'm this terrible human being for what's, after all, a minor thing.

Basically, you're saying that he's exaggerating, being a dick, and crucially, you eventually want to move it to the basic question: do you hate me, or do you care at all about me?
Because if you care at all, you're not showing right now.

Humanize yourself, show to him and to everyone that he's being hurtful.
And that, if he wants to have an even moderately good relationship, that's not going to fly.

I realised that part of assertiveness is communicating to the other person that he has influence and power in the relationship.

However, you are giving him the choice while setting up the larger frame of what's a win-win relationship and what's value-adding & value-taking.

Additionally, the societal frame is usually on our side in enforcing win-win relationships.
This works very well when you are asserting yourself against obvious, value-taking actions/behaviour.

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Lucio Buffalmano
Quote from Matthew Whitewood on May 10, 2021, 6:50 pm

Welcome Connor!

Quick notes since this is your first time:

Thank you Matthew for welcoming me and pointing me to the guidelines.

Check out the forum guidelines for more details.

Becoming More Assertive

Check out the article on assertiveness.
Yes, without knowing it I have been doing  this,   it still feels like I'm missing something.

Uncle: Don't you know you should keep the knife back after using it?

You: I find the tone aggressive.

Uncle: You are supposed to keep the knife.

You: I may have made a mistake.
That does not give you the right to use an aggressive tone.
If you use a respectful tone, we can communicate better and have a better relationship.

I had tried to address the tone  and it did not go anywhere.

Me: Your tone is disrespectful and it makes me defensive and angry.

Uncle: This is how I talk when I feel strongly about something, you not keeping the knife back  made my tone like this and why are you getting upset if I take this tone?

Me: Well the tone makes it hard to be rational and calm

Uncle:Why are you not being rational and calm when I talk this way, you do not keep the knife back and also expect me to not use my natural tone?

You seem to mention that you have pointed his behaviour out to him.
However, he seems to deny or continue.
It is quite possible that your uncle is a controlling man.
As such, you may have to reinforce boundaries repeatedly and be a lot more assertive.

Keep the frame on the tone.
Address the tone of your uncle and not the mistake or the task.

I try to  and  he frames it as not being a big deal

Is It Possible to Move Out?

I would like to move out, for a while though I'm struck here and until then I do not want to put up with that.

 

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Matthew Whitewood

Yes he is an absolute power scalper  and whenever I try to address the tone,  he justifies by saying  his tone is normal and is not related to the matter at hand and paints me as the aggressor .

I had tried to address the tone  and it did not go anywhere.

Me: Your tone is disrespectful and it makes me defensive and angry.

Uncle: This is how I talk when I feel strongly about something, you not keeping the knife back  made my tone like this and why are you getting upset if I take this tone?

Me: Well the tone makes it hard to be rational and calm

Uncle:Why are you not being rational and calm when I talk this way, you do not keep the knife back and also expect me to not use my natural tone?

 

Yes since he takes different angles to set me up as a "bad" I'm unable to defend all angles .

You: it's true, I am late. My bad. But my main question is: what's the point of making me feel so bad about it, trying to frame me like this total idiot who always does everything wrong?

Uncle:  what is there to be upset about? if you do feel upset that is the issue here we should talk about what makes you feel upset then.

Me: You are making an big issue of nothing.

Uncle: It is  not about the knife it is about your attitude,  you won't understand now but you will thank me later, maybe you don't like what I say but my intentions are for your best. This is how I look out for you.

Me: Your intentions don't seem that way

Uncle: My actions may be wrong but my intentions are noble

He covers all his bases from further attack from me, even taking the teacher  and philosopher frame and making me seem inexperienced  and putting himself in the position to say "I told you so but you didn't listen to me" if I fail and if I do well it will be because "I changed my attitude after he told me"

I have tried to point out and question a a few assumptions in his arguments but even those don't work.

And I have tried to exaggerate his actions  but again it blows up in my face like this

Me: Did I kill someone by being late? No, right? When you attack me like that, it makes me feel like I'm this terrible human being for what's, after all, a minor thing

Uncle: Are you saying you will learn only if someone gets killed? How is punctuality a minor thing? If I cant trust you with a small thing how can I trust you with a bigger thing?

Me: No, I didn't mean that, I value punctuality too

Uncle: Why can't you do it then? you will have some excuse up your sleeve

One thing I have noticed it he always puts me on the spotlight to  me convince him that my actions and thoughts are right recently i have been trying to put the spotlight on him it rarely works because he is usually in the right.

@LucioBuffalmano    and @MatthewWhitewood I did not know how to  reply specifically to your post, figuring it out as I go along

 

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Matthew Whitewood
Quote from Connor Jackson on May 11, 2021, 3:12 pm

I had tried to address the tone  and it did not go anywhere.

You should consider you didn't it properly -or that you're not yet as skilled as your uncle, which is nothing to be ashamed of BTW because he's got a whole lifetime of training on being a dick-.

It seems like it became a frame battle, and rather than sticking and sticking and sticking to your frame of "that tone is not cool", you let his "switching of angle of attacks" technique move you.

Once you address the tone, you must stick to the tone frame.

It's OK to validate his points if they are somewhat valid, but you always go back to the tone, for example:

You: Yes, you are right, that was not cool and it was a mistake, I've already said that. BUT it is still not cool to...

Uncle: I do it for you, you will thank me later

You: Maybe, and I will thank you even more if you treat me with more kindness, because your attitude is not cool

Uncle: my actions are noble, that's what matters

You: that's important, and I am happy you say that because I want to have a great relationship with you. But that attitude is getting in the way, it's not cool to crucify people and frame them like idiots. It's a mistake, fine, the ability to move on and show kindness to people is important

Uncle: are you saying that being late is not disrespectful? Why are you always justifying

You: being late is not cool indeed and that's never my intention, we agree on that. That's not the point I'm making though, the point is...

Uncle: you sound like you're overly worried about "tone" instead of not letting us wait. You know we get worried?

You: yes, I am overly worried about tone, and you seem to always avoid that. Your tone is becoming a problem to me, and so your unwillingess to face it

Uncle: you are acting like a pussy, like today's youth

You: maybe. Or maybe you are are acting like an abusive individual. This is damaging me. How about this: let's go to a therapist

And on and on.
At a certain point, with certain people, it's more about sticking to your guns than anything else.

Stick to your guns of abusive behavior, then escalate to go to a neutral judge.
When you're (mostly) in the right, that's your next level power move (and even if you're in the wrong, so you can face your mistake and fix them).

If your uncle is so sure that his behavior is OK, then you two go to a therapist and see what a neutral observer says.

If he refuses, then you got the checkmate:

You: I feel you're abusing me and it's me costing me in my self-esteem, and it's costing in our relationship.
If you're so convinced of being in the right, or if you cared about me, then let's go to a professional and neutral observer.

"I'll pay for it", you will add.

It's similar to when you reach an impasse with a merchant: you don't have to accept their thousand angles why you're wrong.
Instead, stick to your guns and escalate to the neutral judge of credit card chargebacks (or to a court).

Same as when someone here might refuse feedback of poor behavior.
The next level power move might be a ban, but I usually prefer the "let's see what other people here think".

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Matthew WhitewoodConnor Jackson
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

P.S.: this might turn into a new definition.

Maybe something like "court power move", where court could be a third party individual, the community, a therapist, a professional mediator, a friend, or any party that can inject some neutrality and objectivity.

As long as that third party is indeed objective, this is can be a big checkmate power move -and even when not, it can still save a lot of time as many manipulators love the endless fight and quarrel, and you don't want to get mired in that instead-.

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Matthew WhitewoodConnor Jackson
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?
Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on May 11, 2021, 3:42 pm

It seems like it became a frame battle, and rather than sticking and sticking and sticking to your frame of "that tone is not cool", you let his "switching of angle of attacks" technique move you.

Once you address the tone, you must stick to the tone frame.

It's OK to validate his points if they are somewhat valid, but you always go back to the tone, for example.

Thank you Lucio for your insight into the dynamics here.

I was thinking about your answers and was also busy these few days. First let me see if I understood your answer. Para phrasing your  answer here "Even if he attacks from multiple angles, I should stick to winning one frame at a time. Since I mentioned the tone I should have struck to the tone frame even if he tried to wriggle out of  it. If he does  not  accept even then, escalate to neutral  third party."

Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on May 11, 2021, 3:42 pm

 

It seems like it became a frame battle, and rather than sticking and sticking and sticking to your frame of "that tone is not cool", you let his "switching of angle of attacks" technique move you.

I didn't stick to the tone frame for long because  I felt even if I won that frame it would probably be a small win,  but I also did not know any other frame to challenge  which would lead to bigger win and even if I did  I was not sure what to reply to his incisive questioning. This probably happened  because I thought the tone of the questions (form of the questions ) was not as valuable/important as any other frame(substance of the questions)

I was wondering in this interaction especially  and  any other for that matter   isn't it  better to attack the substance of their arguments rather than the form(Tone ) . I am unsure why many of the members here place  a  lot of importance on the form(tone ) rather than attacking the substance, Is it because there can be multiple  angles to attack(substance) and usually only one form( tone ) making form an easier frame to attack to win?

Thank you

Think back to an incident where

  • you had a healthy disagreement with someone,
  • both of you managed to discuss it
  • You and the person came to a resolution.

What did you find different about that interaction?

The substance of a discussion is definitely important.
If 2 people are disagreeing a lot on substance, then maybe it's time to relook at the situation and relationship.

However, it is often the tone and approach when 2 people come together to discuss issues that set the quality of the relationship.

On Your Situation

Quote from Connor Jackson on May 10, 2021, 4:15 pm

Well recently a couple of incidents happened with my uncle who has an authoritative and controlling personality and is also an hypocrite. I stay at their place and he picks on me. If I tend do to a mistake he points it out and asks me questions like its an interrogation.

By pointing this out, it suggests that what you are uncomfortable with is the general approach (tone) at which your uncle is speaking to you rather than any specific issue at hand. I certainly see this to be the issue from your specific examples. Furthermore, as Lucio advised, your uncle is pretty good at being a dick.

The problem is the general approach.
We want to change your uncle's approach in talking to you.

What is the bigger goal?
The bigger goal would be for your uncle to be more respectful towards you.
You are living with him which makes this very important.

The first step towards this goal would be to draw boundaries and demand more respectful communication.
This can be challenging as you are staying at your uncle's place which gives him more power by default.
Additionally, he's manipulative when you point out what he's doing.

So you don't need to win any of the arguments.
You can even go up to him anytime and bring up this topic.
Albeit it could be easier during an argument because you have something fresh to work with.

Even if he attacks from multiple angles, I should stick to winning one frame at a time. Since I mentioned the tone I should have struck to the tone frame even if he tried to wriggle out of  it. If he does  not  accept even then, escalate to neutral  third party.

It's not so much about winning one frame.
It's about sticking to the original frame.
Asserting your boundary that anyone should communicate to you respectfully.

Escalating to a neutral third party works because it does not become your uncle's word vs your word.
The therapist for example will see the situation objectively.
When your therapist points that out as a third party, that carries weight, especially he's a professional in resolving relationship conflicts.

Internalising the Mindsets of Assertiveness

We have to get down the mental side of assertiveness first before the power dynamics tactics can begin.

  • I deserve respect
  • I make mistakes, but this doesn’t give others the right to control my life

There's much more in Power University.
Do check out the article for more.

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