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Quote from Bel on December 13, 2022, 4:48 pm

Just for my reference:

client who we discussed here sending me "tasking emails" answered a Christmas wishes card I sent him by reversing what I had (inadvertently) done in writing on the envelope, ie including his title as sender and not including mine as addressee.

This confirms my prior inner thinking about him being subtly power-focused.

Yeah, I had seen the original of message on mobile before bedtime, and felt exactly the same: all premeditated and on purpose.

Though for total honesty of feedback, I would have sent my initial greeting a bit less formal.
Knowing that one is power-craving/power-sensitive (have to draft an article on that BTW) and with a tendency to power moves, the original format of the greetings might have "invited" those same power moves.

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On Christmas cards triggering power moves

Ok, so it was my mistake to send the Christmas cards to everyone in the same format: ie including “att.” (for “attorney”) on the envelope beside my name in the “sender” space, while just writing the name of the addressees (without their professional title) in the addressee space.

The reason I did this was because I didn’t want to take the time, contrary to previous years, to check each addressee professional title when writing the envelopes.

I also thought, if a professional sent a card to me by only addressing me as “Bel Riose”, I would still be happy.

As in, these are Christmas wishes being sent… not a declaration of war.

I also signed each card with my full name, while maybe I should have stuck with my first.

In other words, maybe the cards were too formal and this triggered a feeling of me “wanting to keep distance” or something.

So next year I should make them more balanced (on the envelope) and, inside, sign them with my first name only. (BTW, inside I only put my name, not my title; the title "att." was only on the envelope.).

To be totally honest on my side as well: having to worry even about this seems a bit too much… I don’t think most people even pay attention to these things.

But apparently there are people out there who take Christmas wishes as a reason to “get revenge”…

By the way: this was one of the guys who lately didn’t update me on work I did…

On "Don't share your successes with people who don't ask":

Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on December 14, 2022, 8:36 am

I may even add: to push your successes on them is at high risk of turning a friend into a frenemy.

If someone never asks, assume they don't want to know.
Not everyone can be a good friend.

And the strategist knows that it's a grave mistake to force a not-so-good-person into a friend (they'll turn frenemies anyway).

That's the social equivalent of the dater who "tries to turn a hoe into a housewife" -or, for women, an inveterate player and/or alcoholic into a good father-.

Instead, it's a lot better and more beneficial for both, even win-win, to keep not-so-good people as acquaintances or semi-friends.

Exceptions always apply, so with good people, you can mention it or just share a small detail of your success -or whatever you're happy to share and talk about-.
Then wait for them to ask.
If they're good, they'll say something like "yeah right, I forgot to ask man, sorry about that, please tell me more" and let you share more, and be happy for you.

Agree, this is totally my experience.

I was unaware of this a long time and the effects were what you say: frenemies in the making.

I also found that the people who turn into instant frenemies the moment you share a success are also those who constantly force their successess on others!

At a point my "sharing back" was a way of saying "stop it". But it doesn't work. They just resent one more and force even more of their inflated success stories.

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Don't "say hi" to people who come to meetings (or videocalls) late, if they try to "slide in quietly" (ie don't advertise that they are late)

I tried both solutions.

When I said hi (honestly), I saw the other person apologizing, as if my move was meant to shame them.

When I didn't, I saw they weren't offended I was not greeting them, likely because they appreciated me not putting the spotlight on their "lateness".

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Quote from Bel on December 14, 2022, 11:49 am

On Christmas cards triggering power moves

Well, ultimately, you'll know better how to adapt to your situation/receivers and I don't think I can make a blanket rule.

Personally, I also wouldn't personalize them to save time and I wouldn't add any title for myself there -but then again, I tend to be very informal and to save on time I don't even send wishes and gifts to family on any holiday, so I wouldn't take myself as a role model-.

My comment was only relative to that person: if anyone who's very power-craving and power move-y would get that type of letter, I'm not surprised he'd reply back the way he did, and I'd also agree that he did it on purpose.

So maybe you can do "same for everyone", and then carve a few exceptions for the people you know are most likely to take offense when you list your title, but not theirs.

Thank you for sharing your experience on the "don't share successes", it's super helpful; and yes to your "let people hide their lateness" when they join late (a form of power protecting).
Exceptions apply of course: bosses and decision makers are free to join whenever they want and they'll want to be introduced and respected because they're there to get stuff one (and they won't lose anything for being late, if not actually gain something).

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Thank you Lucio,

I think your view is spot on and I’ll just avoid putting “attorney” on wishes envelopes from now on, or (maybe better) put in the title of the addressee as well.

I think starting from the premise that some clients may be power-hungry makes it reasonable to avoid triggering them.

Later in my career I may then do the opposite (ie restart putting “attorney” on wishes cards, or remove their title) to spot and get rid of bad clients! 🙂

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I’m thinking of a behavior I have experienced many times in my life from sadistic dark triads:

Sadistic withdrawal

These kind people have the habit of faking friendship, love, business partnership for months, maybe even for years, promising their support for tough times, and then withdrawing it at the worst possible moment for their marks.

Typical situations:

- a boyfriend learns he has a serious bad illness, and his sadistic dark triad girlfriend breaks up then and there;

- a boss says to his young collaborator that he doesn’t need his own clients as he - the boss - will always provide for him, and then when the mark has finally no clients and is undergoing a divorce, fires him abruptly;

- and also run-of-the-mill, typical sadistic situations in narcissistic families, eg where children write their Santa Claus letters and always invariably never receive what they asked on Christmas.

Two additional observations on this dynamic:

- the dark triad will never ever admit his or her true sadistic intent in these situations, and any protests from the mark will always be answered with a ploy to make it seem that the dark triad is himself in a bad situation and forced to withdraw support;

- and of course, the best protection against this is always in the ability to spot and respond to power moves. Even while faking support, these dark triads always give away their true intentions by power moving.

You know when they say “you can only recognize a narcissist after six months to a year or so when the mask comes off”? Well, with TPM we can fortunately shorten the time needed to unmask these people to mere seconds (eg where they try an opening domination gambit)!

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Here's one social climbing power move I only fully understand now:

Equating another person's present situation to one's own past situation, and speaking of the latter in extremely derogatory terms, while implying the speaker is over it


Yeah, I understand. Before I learned this, like you I also was constantly making a fool of myself.

It works by covering the insult in a false self-deprecating similarity. The self-deprecation (and the similarity as well) is false, because the speaker is presenting his past situation as already over.

So his loss of public status, assuming there is one, is infinitely smaller than the one he is forcing on the other.

It also packs in a teacher/learner frame punch for maximum effect.

And the fake "closeness", as well.

The fact that the power-move is intentional can be desumed from the extremely derogatory terms used by the power mover. In fact, if one did not intend to power move, he or she would not use derogatory terms in this situation. In other words: the more derogatory the terms, the more intentional the move.

Solution: reframe as his situation only, magnify the closeness (to paint his "self-deprecation" in a new light) and differentiate one's own situation.

Woah, it must have been tough man. In my case though it should mostly be a matter of tweaking a couple things.

By the way: while writing the above, I also see how one can eliminate the teacher/learner frame subtly:

  • reframe the challenge as different
  • reframe the solution proposed by the teacher as not pertinent
  • reframe the issue as smaller than the one the teacher must have encountered in his life.
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Yep, great one Bel.

A similar and common power move:

I used to be like that

Which sub-communicates that the power mover is at a "higher level of development" and the receiver is "stuck at a lower level".

Eventually, maybe... the receiver will reach that point.

That speaker then doesn't even have to convince or provide good arguments.
As a matter of fact, not providing any argument and not even continuing to talk is then a "fly higher" manipulative (fake) punishment: he has no time for those beneath him, so he stops engaging, and leaves him to wallow in his inferiority.

Come to think of it... This one deserves a name.

There are many ways to counter it your example, and what you say applies.

I'd tweak it though.
Don't end with self-defense or it looks, well... Defensive.

Maybe instead start with the self-defense:

Oh man, thanks, but I was never at that level of making a fool of myself, I'm sorry to hear that was your life for so long


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At another clothing store

I tried on a sweater and asked my partner how it looked on me. The store clerk went:

Clerk: 10!

Me: Eh, but you’re a bit partisan here…

The clerk laughed and patted me on the back.

I went back to the changing room to change back and thought about whether I had to touch him back.

However, the fact that he patted me on the back after my “surfacing statement” and while laughing, made me doubt whether touching him back was unnecessary, since maybe bystanders could already feel it was a “reactive touch”.

In the end I didn’t, also because I didn’t feel comfortable touching him (he was talking to other clients when I came out) but the doubt remained.

Maybe I should have touched him back, eg by putting my hand on his arm, if only to get through this feeling of uncomfortableness touching others.

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