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Bel's thoughts

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Hey, Bel

It's true, it's always a real possibility that she thought it was submissive. But what I do is to show extra warmth from the outset when dealing with shop assistants because they are already power down. It's a class of workers that is used to be abused and disrespected in a daily basis. They have very little power, cannot really do anything to improve the situation, have to abide to the rules – if they try to bend the rules, then they are risking being called out by their superior; if they don't, they're going to be called a "jobsworth" and be disliked anyway–, it's common for people to expect them to be ready to do whatever minor task they assume it's part of their job...

So, if you look aloof or act high power with them, it may bring resentment. But if you show them that you respect their position and whatever little bit of power they have at that situation, and you'll become their favorite client.

I remember once I was in a high-end restaurant, and the waitress thanked me effusively for being kind to her (and I was not being particularly kind to her, just my normal). She had tolerated a lot of rudeness that day. She shared with me that when she said "good day" to a couple that same day, the man replied "Only for you it's a good day. Now go and bring us X". It was the last straw. She had to excuse herself and go to cry in the bathroom. She confided to me that if it wasn't for her daughter, she wouldn't tolerate that job. She even gave me a chocolate when I paid the bill.

So what I would have done here is:

Her: It's impossible to work like this alone.

Me: Yeah, I totally feel you. It was the same when I used to work as [share a 2-sec story of when you worked in a low-wage job, when you were a trainee etc]

Edit: the same applies to bouncers, doormen, cleaners, waiters etc

Lucio Buffalmano, John Freeman and 2 other users have reacted to this post.
Lucio BuffalmanoJohn FreemanMats GBel

Hello Bel,

I think you had the right mindset: to empathesize with her. What I think could have been done differently is the execution.

That means identifying the emotion underneath. Empathy is about recognizing what the person is feeling. Once you have done that, it’s 80% of the work. How you react to it is the 20%.

In this instance it sounds like she was frustrated, overwhelmed or discouraged maybe (I was not there so I don’t have more info).

In your answer, it’s not really empathy to me as you did not validate her emotion nor her reality. From HER point of view. From yours you did as you validated what she said. Which is not the same thing.

When you validated what she said on the surface it sounded to me like you validated that she was not managing her job. So it made her feel bad.

In this instance if you want to empathize you want her to understand that you understand what she’s feeling.

In this instance I would have asked: “you’re short of personnel?”

Or: “Yeah I hate when they give me work for 2 people and I’m alone”

Or: “Yeah, sometimes it’s frustrating when there is too much work and not enough people”.

Or being encouraging“ how long do you have to work more? »Answers. Me: “almost done! ” + a warm smile.

Or: “Yeah that’s irritating when work is badly organized » (referring to her manager)

Or: « Yeah some days are neverending » + corresponding facial expression

Or: “Yeah it’s one of those days” + negative shake of head

So once you’ve identified the emotion, then you have a wide range of possible answers.

It’s not about what she says it’s about how she feels.

(what do you mean by empathic tone BTW? Mirroring her tone?)

Cheers!

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Lucio BuffalmanoKavalierBel

Thank you so much for your perspective guys.

In other words, the issue could have been (not that I have been too empathetic, but) not empathetic enough.

It’s very helpful and makes me realize my answer could have sounded “fake”. Especially because, I am now thinking, I was a bit frustrated that I had to first wait to try to get her to notice me, and then go call her twice.

Perhaps the real lesson for me here is that it is better to either empathize fully, honestly and high-power, or (where one does not feel it) not empathize at all.

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Lucio BuffalmanoJohn FreemanKavalier

Hey Bel, just a quick note on my side:

Yes, you were disempowered if you look at that single sentence alone.

However, overall, you got what you wanted.

And that's what matters most, and that's the ultimate win.

It's not too unlike the example we have in PU from the Scarface scene with the banker.
Scarface attacks and yelles at the banker. But the banker stays cool and collected. He loses power for being yelled at, but he maintains his cool, controls the frame, and walks out exactly with what he wanted -he won, in the end-.

Coincidences of life, I had a very similar situation as yours.
See it here, seen through that mindset of focusing less on the power move, and more on the ultimate goal:


Edit:
Of course, this is NOT to say that you must accept power moves and do nothing.

It's just to remind ourselves that the final goal matters most.

But sometimes you can do both: focus and care 90% for the ultimate goal, but also enforce boundaries aginast the power move -which most often the best approach-.

In your case, for example, I think that a good approach is to simply hold the frame that she's rude.
Ie.:

You: that's rude

Or even more judge-y:

You: yeah, I can see that, but there's no need to be rude

Whatever she says, you hold the frame that she was rude -just repeat that "no, it was rude"-.
No need to enter into discussions about "why" or "provide evidence".
You just felt it was rude, and you didn't appreciate.

And if you want to deliver a parting shot, read her name tag, and say that you will make your opinion known.

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John FreemanKavalierBel
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Thank you Lucio, it’s very helpful.

I think that these little things I do unconsciously are those that are impacting the most, in terms of the behaviors and responses I get. That’s why I am concentrating on these things to eliminate them.

It’s like in my work: I ultimately tend to come out good, but I’d also like to avoid getting nausea and stomach-ache due to counterparts getting angry, playing games, interpreting my responses as weak points, etc!

Here, my automatic unconscious response was to interpret her phrase as a general comment on the crowded situation. I couldn’t really even “see” the rudeness. And I feel this was what generated her later mini-escalation (that I didn’t describe).

But if I ask a store-clerk to help and she complains she can’t work “in a situation like that by herself”, you are absolutely right, in essence she is complaining about my request!

And your suggestion is perfect to enforce boundaries.

Heck, just ignoring her remark would have probably avoided triggering the “ah, he has a weak point” unconscious response from her (that I didn’t describe and happened immediately afterwards).

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Lucio BuffalmanoJohn FreemanKavalier

Hi guys! I completely agree with everyone that chipped in! Lucio, this is great, thanks for sharing. Definitely, sometimes a grumpy player is a grumpy player no matter what and won't act except out of fear, so it's awesome that we have learned how to handle it by showing some hard power.

Bel, just to aggregate one more thing to our toolkit, what I like to do that mitigates this possibility is to open the staff as soon as I arrive - whenever it's possible (from what I understood, it was tricky to do it in your situation). If we have already said at least "hi" to them, then it becomes completely natural to ask for help, so we don't have to wait for them to notice us.

It can also help us to separate the grumpy players from the grumpy-because-of-a-bad-day. The "situational grumpies" will return to good humor at least with us, and we'll have time to think about the best way to deal with the grumpy players.

Also, we at least tried to be nice. So when we have to use the "read the name" bazooka, it'll be very well deserved. If others in the staff have seen all the interaction, then they know that you prefer love - but won't why away from using fear if you have to.

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Lucio BuffalmanoJohn FreemanBel
Quote from Bel on August 7, 2022, 1:46 am

I think that these little things I do unconsciously are those that are impacting the most, in terms of the behaviors and responses I get. That’s why I am concentrating on these things to eliminate them.

It’s like in my work: I ultimately tend to come out good, but I’d also like to avoid getting nausea and stomach-ache due to counterparts getting angry, playing games, interpreting my responses as weak points, etc!

Here, my automatic unconscious response was to interpret her phrase as a general comment on the crowded situation. I couldn’t really even “see” the rudeness. And I feel this was what generated her later mini-escalation (that I didn’t describe).

Got your point, it makes sense.

If you think that something you do may attract these power moves and/or that you can still grow in your ability to foresee who's more likely to pull power moves -and hence may need a higher power or more distant stance by you-, then by all means, you got a very valid point (and a great opportunity for further self-development, I'd add).

Quote from Kavalier on August 7, 2022, 2:23 am

what I like to do that mitigates this possibility is to open the staff as soon as I arrive - whenever it's possible (from what I understood, it was tricky to do it in your situation). If we have already said at least "hi" to them, then it becomes completely natural to ask for help, so we don't have to wait for them to notice us.

It can also help us to separate the grumpy players from the grumpy-because-of-a-bad-day. The "situational grumpies" will return to good humor at least with us, and we'll have time to think about the best way to deal with the grumpy players.

Also, we at least tried to be nice. So when we have to use the "read the name" bazooka, it'll be very well deserved. If others in the staff have seen all the interaction, then they know that you prefer love - but won't why away from using fear if you have to.

Great point!

Extending your best foot forward -without over-extending- is a fantastic way of increasing the scope for cooperation, decrease the odds of adversarial exchanges, potentially turning what looked adversarial into win-win, and also covering your ass since you've done your part.

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KavalierBel
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

I just had this insight that, when asking clients to talk on the phone, writing

Me: … Let’s speak on the phone.

is probably generally better than

Me: … Can we talk on the phone?

The first does not pressure the client, and leaves the option open for both to follow up, while subcommunicating I am expecting a call.

The second puts pressure on the client to respond, implies I am asking for permission, is lower power, and probably, as a general rule, to be avoided.

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Lucio BuffalmanoJohn FreemanKavalier

Yep, good analysis.

Not only sometimes (often?) higher power and more direct is better for you, it's often better for the receiver as well (I for one, personally find the people who ask me a thousand things quite frustrating)

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John FreemanBel
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Handshake opening gambit

I was at relatives’ house for a birthday.

My relatives invited a couple of friends (that I did not know) from the same area for the cake.

The wife arrives first, and says her husband would come in a bit, as he needed to sleep because he was tired.

Ten minutes later (!) the husband arrives, and I am the first person he encounters coming in. I am sitting with my back at the door, and I stand up to say hi.

The power move

He looks at me, I go to shake hands and, as we are about to…

… he extends his hand to my partner (who is standing beside and behind me) and shakes her hand, ignoring me altogether.

My response

Then he turns at me and this dialogue ensues that everybody hears:

Him: Hey! Sorry I didn’t really see you! (shakes my hand)

Me: Take it easy, I also wear glasses. (sly smile)

Me: (I turn around and sit down again with my back at him)

His wife: (to him) I don’t understand, Bel even got up to say hi and you do this?

His wife: (to me) Please excuse him Bel. He’s really like this unfortunately.

Him: (to me while I was sitting with my back at him) Really I don’t know why I didn’t see you.

Me: (turning my head a bit without looking at him): Don’t worry, I understand what happened.

He definitely did it on purpose.

My partner later told me everyone felt he was an as*****. She said that his wife basically verbalized the feeling everyone got from the interaction.

Rest of the interaction

Basically he tried to make me react to (what I felt were) nasty one-upping questions two or three times. I responded with dismissive jokes and didn’t give him real answers, as I had the feeling he was trying to see if he could regain a footing.

——

What a nasty move btw. Makes me wonder whether it might be a mistake to keep standing up to shake hands. Probably not though: if other person power moves and you react well, other people see you as kind and the other person loses out of his own gambit.

I am also wondering if I would have done better to reengage him in normal conversation later. But I felt the move was too nasty and played in front of everyone to demean me, so I didn’t trust him anymore.

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Lucio BuffalmanoJohn FreemanKavalierMats G
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