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Bel's thoughts

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BOOM!

Nice man!

All the rest of your questions are fair questions, but you did the main thing right.

How one goes about it, with the various techniques, is also up to preferences (I'd have addressed it openly early one "you didn't see me? I was right in front of you.. ", then stick to that narrative and surface that it's impossible he didn't see you and was playing a game), but the most important thing is that you pick one, and go for it.
And you did it masterfully.

You really threw that piece of shit down the bus he deserved to be thrown under.

Right now, you may even push further and tell your relatives that person is a very negative person (and that you don't wanna be in the same place if he's also there).
But it's not strictly needed.

P.S.:
Would also be curious about what he asked you later during the conversation if you wanna share.

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

You dealt with it, high power, congrats!

Now it's obvious to other people who's the turkey and who's the eagle. You made yourself quite a reputation there. Now, all you have to do is stick with the eagle behaviour and you're golden. People will start to look up to you.

I don't think you should change your behaviour based one one bad interaction (standing to shake hands). It's polite and most folks will react well to it.

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Lucio BuffalmanoKavalierBel
BOOM! That was awesome, Bel, thanks for sharing.
Quote from Bel on August 9, 2022, 9:05 pm

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.

I think it was great the way it was. If you were to reengage him after so many power moves, then you'd be in chasing territory. If others see it, then they'll subconsciously take you as someone who doesn't mind getting shit (the power mover certainly will) and this  and this is quite disempowering. So you did it better by keeping things polite between you too, but using your time and energy to work the group. If he had chased you after this, then this is different, you can build him up and go back to normal conversation.

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John FreemanBel

What Kavalier said, it would have been chasing. You did good. Now it's up to him to come to you if he wants to improve the relationship. That's the black-and-white approach. However, I think it fits here. There are nuances and ways you could re-engage him but in this case, since you're not close it's not worth exploring.

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Lucio BuffalmanoKavalierBel
Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on August 9, 2022, 9:51 pm

BOOM!

Nice man!

All the rest of your questions are fair questions, but you did the main thing right.

How one goes about it, with the various techniques, is also up to preferences (I'd have addressed it openly early one "you didn't see me? I was right in front of you.. ", then stick to that narrative and surface that it's impossible he didn't see you and was playing a game), but the most important thing is that you pick one, and go for it.
And you did it masterfully.

You really threw that piece of shit down the bus he deserved to be thrown under.

Thank you so much Lucio! Your teachings on TPM and in PU about handshake power moves are golden!

I am also starting to realize these kinds of "handshake" opening moves were very common for me to encounter when I was unaware.

Right now, you may even push further and tell your relatives that person is a very negative person (and that you don't wanna be in the same place if he's also there).
But it's not strictly needed.

That's very helpful, it confirms I did right in not reengaging, and that my feeling this was a red-level move was justified. And that this kind of person is never to be trusted.

What he asked me later

P.S.:
Would also be curious about what he asked you later during the conversation if you wanna share.

It went like this:

  • he first asked my partner her age, she answered; he waited a bit, then said:

Him: (to me) I wonder though: if she is X years old, then how old are you?

  • then, sometime later, one person was telling a story about offering to pass a Coke bottle to a woman; he listened, and then he said:

Him: (to me) So how many bottles did you pass to her?

When he asked these questions, I had already removed all warmth toward him; I feel the simple fact I was keeping being dismissive worked in my favor.

While I write this, I am also starting to get a better feeling of why he played his move.


Quote from John Freeman on August 9, 2022, 10:17 pm

You dealt with it, high power, congrats!

Now it's obvious to other people who's the turkey and who's the eagle. You made yourself quite a reputation there. Now, all you have to do is stick with the eagle behaviour and you're golden. People will start to look up to you.

I don't think you should change your behaviour based one one bad interaction (standing to shake hands). It's polite and most folks will react well to it.

Thank you John, for the kind words and for your perspective and help!

It's very helpful to know standing to shake hands is "the normally polite thing to do"; these kinds of people can make one doubt about everything if one does not understand the dynamics.

Quote from Kavalier on August 9, 2022, 10:22 pm
BOOM! That was awesome, Bel, thanks for sharing.
Quote from Bel on August 9, 2022, 9:05 pm

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.

I think it was great the way it was. If you were to reengage him after so many power moves, then you'd be in chasing territory. If others see it, then they'll subconsciously take you as someone who doesn't mind getting shit (the power mover certainly will) and this  and this is quite disempowering. So you did it better by keeping things polite between you too, but using your time and energy to work the group. If he had chased you after this, then this is different, you can build him up and go back to normal conversation.

Thank you Kavalier! It's very helpful to read about this dynamic so clearly spelt out.


BTW, I had not seen these relatives of mine for quite some time. And after this event one of them said she was surprised that I was "more decisive and determined", and "more of a pleasure to be with" (and that I had even "regrown more hair on my head" (!)). And, they told me, after I left they started speaking between themselves about how bad this guy above had been.

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Lucio BuffalmanoKavalier
Quote from Bel on August 10, 2022, 1:14 pm

 

BTW, I had not seen these relatives of mine for quite some time. And after this event one of them said she was surprised that I was "more decisive and determined", and "more of a pleasure to be with" (and that I had even "regrown more hair on my head" (!)). And, they told me, after I left they started speaking between themselves about how bad this guy above had been.

RE-BOOM!

Oh man, I had read research that linked power to perceived height and high-power people are naturally more charismatic and sought-after... But that hair regrowth thing... I need to look deeper into it ahaha 😀

 

Quote from Bel on August 10, 2022, 1:14 pm

Him: (to me) So how many bottles did you pass to her?

When he asked these questions, I had already removed all warmth toward him; I feel the simple fact I was keeping being dismissive worked in my favor.

Thank you for sharing, and yes I think you did well.

Did you also spot the disempowering frame there?

That's the frame of one who courted through material giving. And material giving in dating is sometimes -not always!- used to make up for a sexual market value imbalance -ie., the frame being "she's higher value than him"-.

A strong check on this one:

Him: (to me) So how many bottles did you pass to her?
You: oh, we pass each other things (turns the frame from "I court and take care of her" to "we take care of each other"). It's you I'm not sure I'd pass anything (laughs out loud)

 

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Bel
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?
Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on August 11, 2022, 12:01 am
Quote from Bel on August 10, 2022, 1:14 pm

Him: (to me) So how many bottles did you pass to her?

When he asked these questions, I had already removed all warmth toward him; I feel the simple fact I was keeping being dismissive worked in my favor.

Thank you for sharing, and yes I think you did well.

Did you also spot the disempowering frame there?

That's the frame of one who courted through material giving. And material giving in dating is sometimes -not always!- used to make up for a sexual market value imbalance -ie., the frame being "she's higher value than him"-.

* click on blockquote to expand

Thank you, this is extremely helpful: I had not understood it consciously, just had the unconscious feeling he was continuing to insult me.

It also ties up with his question he asked about how old I was - he wanted to imply there was an imbalance with respect to my partner there as well.

When you explain the frames this guy was trying to put me in so clearly, it becomes crystal-clear that he was a total irredeemable as*****.

To think I even went to shake his hand again at the end.  Though, here, I got a feeling that doing this from a position of power was much different than if I had done it after failing to check his bullshit.

Having the conscious understanding of the frame makes all the difference, because it allows one to strategize and respond appropriately.

Stock response to jokes and power-moves meant to imply you don't deserve your partner

Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on August 11, 2022, 12:01 am

A strong check on this one:

Him: (to me) So how many bottles did you pass to her?
You: oh, we pass each other things (turns the frame from "I court and take care of her" to "we take care of each other"). It's you I'm not sure I'd pass anything (laughs out loud)

That's awesome, thank you for this!

Reframe to mutual and jokingly negate toward the power-mover.

It is now my go-to technique to address these kind of moves.

Edit:

Funny thing is, even though I answered his jokes with non-optimal answers ("18" to the age-question, and "not so many" to the bottles-passed joke), I felt he still behaved somewhat submissively after I was able to check his opening gambit.

At one point I went for a glass of water, and he said "I also will get a glass of water", got up and got one.

Which is proof of your teaching about the importance to check early disrespect: it sets the frame for the whole interaction.  So much that if you are successful in checking it, and don't make huge mistakes after, you've basically won.

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Lucio Buffalmano

Yep, you said it, the first "enforcement" made the difference.

It's often the most important, and sometimes intensity (or dominance) is more important than technique -albeit I'd like to restate that you're always on time to change the dynamics and shouldn't let yourself be discouraged for missing the first power move or for lacking in intensity-.

By the way, you know what's funny?

If there had been someone else at your place who had not reacted so well and strongly, chances are his wife wouldn't have said anything, he'd have kept one-upping and pushing around the victim, and people wouldn't have said "that guy is an asshole", they'd have said he was some sort of exuberant character.
In the meanwhile, everyone would have thought of the victim as a useless idiot.

Sometimes your reaction makes the difference in who steps in, and what people think of you, and others.

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

Feeling unclear with a client

The start of the relationship: working for free

I had a client who I met years ago, while I was in my first law firm. A year after I left that law firm, he called me and asked me if I could be his lawyer.

I then started assisting him (both his company and him personally) for two/three years in small things, for which I didn't ask to be paid for several reasons:

  • I didn't know how to ask to be paid then (this was eight years ago);
  • I had lower self-esteem (even though I didn't understand this at the time);
  • I kept waiting for more serious work to come, as the things he asked me to do were small;
  • I had a "feeling" he didn't want to pay (he never said anything about paying me).

I finally get the courage to ask to be paid

After three years, I got the courage to tell him I needed to start getting paid for my work, and proposed a written fee agreement with his company. He, to my amazement, accepted and signed.

For three/four more years from then, only small work kept coming. Initially, I still didn't ask to be paid even though I had a fee agreement in place.

But, when I saw he kept asking me to assist him in small things, I started to detail every little thing I did, and started asking to be paid for everything, both personal and company-wise. Which he did, with some delay (which he told me was not deliberate, but that now I understand probably was).

Bigger work starts coming, and some phone calls I had with him

Then, this year, suddenly, he gave me one big company matter (much bigger than the prior work) that I worked on for two months, and which was paid.

Then he asked me to do another smaller matter, and he mentioned he was asking for my assistance even though the interest of the company in this matter was economically smaller.

I was still learning PU, and I remember this bit of phone conversation (not an exact transcript, I'm summing up in words my feeling about the material content of the conversation):

Me: Ok I understand. If you are asking me a favor, I can do it for free.

Him: No no no, that's not what I meant or wanted.

Me: Ok then, I'll do it under normal fees.

I did this work, and was paid my fee.

Then he called me once again three months ago, and asked me to work on: (i) another significant matter for the company, and (ii) on a personal thing of his.

This conversation ensued:

Me: Ok, I'll get to work on both, but for the personal thing, since we don't have an agreement in place, I'll need to give you a fee estimate.

Him: Attorney please do not exaggerate here!

Me: I won't. When I can come towards you, I do, as I always did. But this case is more complex than what we dealt with before. (when I wasn't asking to be paid)

Him: Ok, I can tell the counterpart that I need to pay X for an initial assessment.

Me: I won't ask you anything for the initial assessment. I'll discuss the options with you after this together with the fee estimate, and you will decide whether to go forward.

I then studied his personal case for free, I phoned him (or rather, asked him to speak on the phone, as I learned here), told him what I had found, and said this:

Me: Ok, about my fee quote: since we have four options here, I can propose we arrange a hourly rate like we have with the company. This way, if you choose the easiest and shortest option, it will be a very low fee; otherwise it will depend on the complexity of the work.

Him: Ok attorney, at this point I think it's best for me to ask the counterpart to make a proposal herself. So if she doesn't want to go forward, we don't waste any work.

Me: Ok, sure.

Radio silence

And then I didn't hear from him on this anymore.

Then I switched to working on the last company matter he had also asked me to work on.

I did the work, sent him the work, and told him I was available to discuss and finalize.

I also sent him, for this company work, a fee report (a provisional timesheet I send every month when I don't invoice after learning, here on TPM, that waiting to send invoices is a self-defeating behavior; I didn't directly invoice as I needed his input to finalize this matter shortly, and wanted to issue the invoice upon concluding work).

This was two months ago, and then I did not hear from him again.

I flip-flop and signal my insecurity with text and email

Then I received an (odd) email from one of the persons in his company, who asked me if I had an invoice for the past month.

Since I had always sent invoices and timesheets to my client personally, I felt this was odd. But maybe it could be proof of a more regular work-relationship being instituted here, so it could also be a good thing.

I was unsure though. So I sent him personally a text message, telling him I had received this email, and asking if we could talk on the phone.

He didn't reply. I waited one hour, thought he might have been on vacation, and texted him I would just reply with an interim email and we would talk another time.

I replied to the company person that I would issue the invoice in some time.

I waited two weeks, then sent him an email with some data he had asked on an unrelated thing during a phone call, and asked him (in this email) a perfunctory question, to see if my gut feeling that he didn't want to talk with me anymore was right. He didn't reply.

My side

My feeling (which could be totally wrong, as a part of me understands it is just possible he was or still is on vacation) is that he was annoyed by the things I said/did.

During this whole relationship, I was trying to basically "recover" from a starting position of me working for free, to a position of working for a normal pay, first for company matters, and then lately on personal matters.

I think my big mistakes here were the following (which I noted so far and eliminated from my future behavior):

  • mentioning to him that if he was asking a favor, I would do the work for free;
  • increasing the fees on personal matters substantially from a work-for-free position;
  • several insecurity clues I probably gave him on the phone and via email throughout the relationship, that either annoyed him or made him think his silence would "rein me in";
  • flip-flopping with texts (asking him to talk, then telling him it was not needed) and "testing" via email to see if he would respond (which he probably read correctly as proof of an insecurity on my side).

His side

At the same time, by writing all this I also now feel he has been somewhat manipulative with me:

  • at the start, years ago, as he saw I was struggling to ask to be paid, and didn't say anything (not normal behavior);
  • after signing the fee agreement, when he started paying me my work on (still-little) matters with some delay, which he told me was not deliberate (but probably was).

I also am realizing, by writing this, that it's possible that he signed the fee agreement years ago under a mental reservation that he didn't think he would give me significant matters.

Now that the fees he is paying have started to increase, he may be trying to "renegotiate" the agreement with his radio silence.

And the lack of clarity I have with him, that prompted me to write this entry, may be exactly what he is trying to achieve. To make me doubt myself.

So my "insecurities" with him may have been a result of his behavior.

What I did good

By just writing this journal entry, I now feel I did something good here.

I was able to recover from a situation where I was basically working for free. And my expertise was recognized by the fact that my client gave me substantially more complex work this year.

Even if I really lost the client, I think I can sleep well.

And this constant feeling that I must have done something wrong to prompt this kind of behavior may be part of the problem. Something that could be the result of my past, and to eradicate from my future self.

So he is also helping me to go forward.

What to do now

The strongest stance would be to wait for the end of summer, and just send him the invoice for the last work I did (the one I detailed in my timesheet).

But a part of me is asking if I should try to speak on the phone with him to clarify. My feeling is he wouldn't pick up though.

Though economically it was starting to make sense, I'm also not sure if this is a client worth keeping, or if it was my insecurity that generated all this.

After writing this entry, I am starting to lean on the option of just invoicing and not pushing for a talk: this may just be a "silent close" negotiation going on.

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Lucio BuffalmanoKavalier

Yeah, overall, whatever you decide to do and however it goes, all seems well, Bel.

Some relationships will suffer as you empower yourself and that's part of the (great) deal of self-development.
And the relationships with takers and manipulators suffer by far the most so, in that sense, it's good news to lose some as often you lose the worst ones.

It's sometimes difficult to pinpoint the issue when the relationship extends over a long period of time and over many exchanges, but it's probably what you say: the transition from "all is free" to "pay me" may have been smoother.

But those are almost bound to be difficult transitions, so you did well to demand to be paid, and then simply do your best to keep the client, and if it doesn't work, you did your part anyway.

Going forward, I'd try to call him again and then write an email on the same day, a few hours later, saying "tried to reach you to mention this, but couldn't get hold of you. Anyway, no problem... "
That way your email is "warmer", less of "bolt out of the blue".

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