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Thank you for the note on where to go Bel, the lesson on delay games is a potentially good one indeed.

Quote from Bel on June 20, 2022, 12:58 pm

OFF TOPIC

Do you think it could be useful to talk more about "dark/aggressive power moves", which have no other function but to humiliate/aggress/demean/disempower? I can think of plenty from my former boss's behavior, and many others I'm picking up in real life now. Apart from being able to recognize them, there could also be use cases for them (such as when dealing with really bad people or red level power moves, where one could have no other choice but to go all in on the attack).

OFF TOPIC

Yeah, I think it's a GREAT idea.

So far I sometimes referred to them as "gratuitous", in the sense that they don't even do much good for the power mover.

It might be a great addition to how to assess people.

A gratuitous power move is more than a red flag on someone because he isn't even getting anything out of it.
So it's a signal of a truly negative/"evil" character.

In terms of actually using them yourself, maybe to test someone and see if they have power awareness and/or how they'd react to being put one-down or disrespected.
But very exceptional circumstances as we don't want to become the assholes (except for when it's called for) :).

Bel has reacted to this post.
Bel
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

I’m thinking about a technique to defend against (and counter) guilt-tripping:

I’m happy that … [insert something positive related to the situation]

I’m putting together here my thoughts on two very similar answers I recently associated from different situations.

The first is a suggestion I received from Lucio, from this other thread:

Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on December 22, 2021, 4:13 am

Yeah, you said it, guilt-tripping it was.

An easy Machiavellian way out:

I'm glad the work went well!

And just for your information, it was already heavily discounted compared to my usual rate :).

(optional: happy to do that for friends and family)

All the best, speak soon!”

When I read it, I wondered what was the function of the “I’m glad the work went well!” part. I assumed it was to convey my work had produced good results for the client.

Now I remember a second situation, I was in before I got here on The Power Moves, when I used a very similar answer.

It is this: a more senior lawyer used to work with me in the past, but I had not seen him for years. One evening he started messaging me and, after one or two messages, this ensued:

Him: My [relative] passed away weeks ago. Did you know it?

Me: Yes, I sent you my condolences then!

Him: That’s true! But do you understand it’s been years in any case since you last messaged me?

Me: I’m happy you are well X, talk soon.

The message where I said “I’m happy you are well” came to me naturally at that time, but I didn’t understand why I wrote it. In fact, this person had painted an opposite picture: he was emotionally in bad shape. And my answer is strikingly similar to Lucio’s suggestion “I’m glad that the work went well”.

Both answers came up to us in situations where the other person was trying to guilt-trip.

So I’m thinking that this kind of answer

Me: I’m happy that [insert something positive related to the excuse used by the guilt-tripper for the guilt-tripping, maybe a bit exaggerated or even fake if you want to power move more]

is an ideal answer against guilt-tripping.

The subcommunication inherent in this answer seems to be the following:

- I recognize the guilt-tripping, and I subcommunicate it to you (because I am overhyping a positive aspect of the situation while you, the guilt-tripper, suggested you were in bad shape)

- the guilt-tripping has no effect on me (because I’m glad, happy and so on)

- not only your move didn’t work, but I’m telling you on which aspect you have to concentrate and how you (have to) feel; in fact I have no qualms about implying that you probably are happy in reality, and were just guilt-tripping

- my move is more socially reasonable than yours, because I am building you up while you were dragging me down: so if a spectator was present, my answer would be perceived as more reasonable and would probably highlight your guilt-tripping for everyone to see.

If this makes sense, it could be a stock answer against guilt-tripping.

I’m trying to imagine several situations I experienced and it seems to work in many of them.

I'm not convinced about this, Bel.

That example didn't seem very smooth to me, too defensive first, and too abrupt when ending it.

Here:

Him: My [relative] passed away weeks ago. Did you know it?
Me: Yes, I sent you my condolences then!

You're already defending and there wasn't even an attack yet.

When you do that it also feels like you're more worried about defending yourself, than about the loss of life, which is not what you want to communicate.

If you think it's an attack, let him at least come out and complete it.

Answer:

Me: Yeah man, sucks to hear, sorry about that

IF he guilts trips, THEN you'll take it from there.

But don't jump the gun yourself, let him be an asshole first (or you end up being in the wrong).

Edit:
Happy to hear more thoughts on this, both from you and others.

Bel has reacted to this post.
Bel
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Agreed on my mistakes above.

And the “surface the guilt-tripping before answering” is very helpful.

Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on June 23, 2022, 2:00 am:

When you do that it also feels like you're more worried about defending yourself, than about the loss of life, which is not what you want to communicate.

If you think it's an attack, let him at least come out and complete it.

Answer:

Me: Yeah man, sucks to hear, sorry about that

IF he guilts trips, THEN you'll take it from there.

But don't jump the gun yourself, let him be an asshole first (or you end up being in the wrong).

Thank you for this, it is very helpful. So to avoid coming across as a bad person I go along with the socially-accepted response. Even if I had already sent him a message of condolences.

(This guy was a total manipulator, by the way. And what he was doing here was strikingly similar to what my former boss did later. These people really have no qualms to use their personal losses to manipulate people!).

As to the idea above, I was thinking of these:

Other: Hey, I didn’t hear you for soo long!

Me: I’m happy to hear from you.

Or

Other: Unfortunately the bank does not seem to be cooperative in allowing us to proceed rapidly, we are stuck.

Me: Well, I’m glad that I could support you to reach this point where you can now proceed on your own.

Or

Other: If you want to go on vacation with two cars, I’m not coming. You two go alone, I can’t make the trip by myself in my car for four hours.

Me: I’m glad you spoke openly; still, we two need to go with our car so, if you can’t make it with yours, I really don’t see a way. We’ll do it another time.

Edit: because the alternative for me so far, in situations like these, was to just go into:

Me: Are you trying to make me feel guilty?

BTW, have you noticed that I, as an external observer, had a similar reaction to your and John's last interaction?

In good part, it's probably because you two knew the previous history and that the person was an asshole, but I didn't.

Which leads me to a good general rule to keep in mind:

In written text, it's best to attack when it would be obvious to an ignorant, third-party observer, that the asshole was indeed behaving like an asshole.

This helps both the 1:1 relationship between you and him.
But also to cover your ass.
Because either you or him might one day show those texts to someone else, and they can easily frame you as "look at how he cut me off (he couldn't care less my X died)".

Bel has reacted to this post.
Bel
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?
Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on June 23, 2022, 11:52 am

BTW, have you noticed that I, as an external observer, had a similar reaction to your and John's last interaction?

In good part, it's probably because you two knew the previous history and that the person was an asshole, but I didn't.

Which leads me to a good general rule to keep in mind:

In written text, it's best to attack when it would be obvious to an ignorant, third-party observer, that the asshole was indeed behaving like an asshole.

This helps both the 1:1 relationship between you and him.
But also to cover your ass.
Because either you or him might one day show those texts to someone else, and they can easily frame you as "look at how he cut me off (he couldn't care less my X died)".

This is an awesome, incredibly useful lesson!

In other words, while writing, the rule should be to always resurface the nastiness of other person as much as possible; if impossible, limit yourself to defense or neutrality (i.e. not losing ground).

And probably the same rule should govern in-person interaction where others are present (because bystanders don't know what happened before).

This should be in PU.

PS: to add on this, in my experience, when I extended myself to attack "out of place", usually the other person extended himself more, and also gave me ammo to frame him as bad. But I agree that this cannot be guaranteed, and that entering into a quarrel like two idiots bickering is not ideal: so the principle still stands.

Edit: this also probably explains one of the reasons that you tend to assume the good intentions in others: it's simply more effective to stay higher power by assuming that stance, due to this very principle (that other people don't know the past)!

If I address an interaction with a pre-frame based on my past interactions with a person (or with other persons who did similar things), he can easily paint me as a crazy bastard. But if you address all interactions as new situations where you constantly adapt, nobody can say anything. You always make the other person show his hand! Again and again!

And that's probably the same reason why you suggest to still be "kind" in answering people who you don't want to deal with (with the "Hey man, happy to hear from you. I'm crazy busy with work these days. Hope everying's good.". Which so far I had not fully "gotten" (I used to be rather curt in responding to bad people), but will definitely start using from now on even with them).

Second edit: this principle also explains the often-given advice of dealing with abusive exes, former mobbing bosses, and past manipulators, if you re-encounter them, with superficial politeness and charm, and low investment. If you don't, you come across as crazy!

By the way, starting each separate interaction as a (superficially) clean slate is exactly the stance that manipulators always adopt.

Precisely because they are extremely invested in keeping up their facade of goodness.

So that's definitely one thing to borrow from them for social effectivess.

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Lucio BuffalmanoMats G

Yep, you said it Bel.

I can totally see how that "I can see you're extending, and I can extend you first" pushes them over the edge.
But the thing is that: at that point, the scuffle becomes murky.
Who attacked who?
Only you know the truth, nobody else -and you also help give the attacker reasons and excuses to feel right and justified-.

Surface, bide time, give them rope (without ever getting over-involved), and once they're out for good with their shitty game to the point where it stinks... Wham!

There's also one more benefit to surfacing and "waiting until it's obvious": sometimes, you may be wrong.
Especially in first-time encounters, it also happened to me more than once that I inferred bad intentions, and was wrong.

Of course there are always exceptions and sometimes an early "fuck you" is fair.
But generally speaking, it's usually better to see that neck well-extended before you go for the chop.

Defense or Excessive Self-Defense

It's the exact same in physical self-defense, BTW, with the concept of "excessive use of force ins self-defense" when you shoot too early.

Which is why it's better to make the attacker extend well into your house before shooting (VS, say, shooting when he's still on the porch and then good luck proving his malicious intent).

PU Reference

Thank you for the note on PU, these are always invaluable.

I'm thinking it could be a reference under "surfacing" or in the self-defense frames (more the former, so far).

If you have any idea, happy to read.

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Mats GBel
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

So let’s try another idea about guilt-tripping.

The example in PU on how to address it consists of immediately calling it out and naming it.
I understand from the forum that this is not the best idea.

I also understand from Lucio’s post above and from his responses to several of my recent posts that guilt-tripping can generate a “social cover” for the manipulator, in that if you just ignore it bluntly and not let it affect you, you come across as an asshole in front of everybody.

So the approaches here could be:

- in case of guilt-tripping done either in writing or publicly, superficially empathize, then guilt-trip back to reestablish equal footing;

- in case of guilt-tripping done one on one and in words, just deflect as much as possible, insist on positives about the situation of the guilt-tripper, then when the guilt-tripper comes out of his cover, go with:

Are you trying to make me feel guilty?

Examples to verify the above idea about public or written guilt-tripping, out of my past threads and experiences with guilt-tripping:

Manipulator’s text: Hey let’s meet to discuss payment of the fees you requested. I take the occasion to note I haven’t received even a telegram of condolences for the death of my father. Still I want to believe you didn’t know it.

My text response: It’s terrible to hear this news, I’m close to you with heart and prayers, there are no adequate words. Unfortunately I am in a personal situation where I just need to receive payment now, and two years have gone by in any case from my first request: so please proceed asap.

Another example, at a table:

Guilt-tripper (to another person present so that social pressure piles on): I am really in a bad financial shape, I don’t even have money to weep. I don’t know how I will survive now.

My verbal response: I understand, I also share your situation as I had a bad financial reversal recently but I don’t want to add my misery to yours. Just know I would waive the fees for the work I did for you if I could, but in my current situation I can’t.

Another example:

Guilt-tripper’s text: Bel I would have liked to wish you a happy birthday in person but you don’t answer!! I would also have liked to celebrate with you this date so important  !! 🤷‍♀️🤷‍♀️ Do know that I love you !! Many many wishes !!  😘😘

My text response: Hey it’s good to hear from you! Would love to talk and celebrate as well but work is driving me crazy, just on my birthday!! (So sad!!) But thanks for your message, we will certainly talk soon!

So my current conclusion is that sometimes (most of the times?) guilt-tripping from related or close people, or guilt-tripping done in public, can only be answered by faking empathizing and guilt-tripping back to reestablish social equal footing.

One of the cases where you really can’t win without (knowing how to) being “bad”.

Edit: maybe there is a better, more eagle-like solution, which is to:

- first empathize

- then expressly disassociate the link between the guilt-tripping and our actions.

Let’s try again:

Manipulator’s text: Hey let’s meet to discuss payment of the fees you requested. I take the occasion to note I haven’t received even a telegram of condolences for the death of my father. Still I want to believe you didn’t know it.

My text response: It’s terrible to hear this news, I’m close to you with heart and prayers, there are no adequate words. However, I fail to find a link between the loss you communicate and my request for payment, to which you also refer in your very message, and which I sent you more than two years ago.  Since you yourself acknowledge it and it is long overdue, please proceed to now settle the invoice.

At the table:

Guilt-tripper (to another person present so that social pressure piles on): I am really in a bad financial shape, I don’t even have money to weep. I don’t know how I will survive now.

My verbal response: The current situation with work is really bad. I am happy that I was able to help you with my work, at greatly reduced fees compared to what anyone else would have done. Happy to be of help to the extent I can.

Birthday wishes:

Guilt-tripper’s text: Bel I would have liked to wish you a happy birthday in person but you don’t answer!! I would also have liked to celebrate with you this date so important  !! 🤷‍♀️🤷‍♀️ Do know that I love you !! Many many wishes !!  😘😘

My text response: Hey it’s good to hear from you! Don’t be sad, we’ll for sure have other occasions to celebrate in the future. But only if you don’t keep being sad! 🙂 Thanks for your message, hope everything is good!

Another try:

Other: Hey, you didn’t call me for soo long! It’s about time!

Me: You’re still so energetic after all this time!

Another:

Other: If you want to go on vacation with two cars, I’m not coming. You two go alone, I can’t make the trip by myself in my car for four hours.

Me: Normally we would gladly go all together, but we just can’t this time. It’s really unfortunate and, if that’s your decision, we will miss you.

Lucio Buffalmano and Mats G have reacted to this post.
Lucio BuffalmanoMats G
Quote from Bel on June 25, 2022, 12:15 am

So let’s try another idea about guilt-tripping.

The example in PU on how to address it consists of immediately calling it out and naming it.
I understand from the forum that this is not the best idea.

But that is not the case.

It's situational, including your general preferences, what you want to achieve, and your past, present, and future relationship with that person.

In that example it suited exactly what I wanted, and was perfect.

I added a note now that the example doesn't imply that one should always do the same.

Bel has reacted to this post.
Bel
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

And as for your texts, they're quite good.

Just one quick tip:

Quote from Bel on June 25, 2022, 12:15 am

Guilt-tripper (to another person present so that social pressure piles on): I am really in a bad financial shape, I don’t even have money to weep. I don’t know how I will survive now.

My verbal response: The current situation with work is really bad. I am happy that I was able to help you with my work, at greatly reduced fees compared to what anyone else would have done. Happy to be of help to the extent I can.

There's no reason why you should disempower yourself for a guilt-tripper.

If that's true AND if you're cool sharing that, then OK.

Otherwise, you don't have to.

To transmit the same feelings though, you can say:

Guilt-tripper: (whatever "poor me" frame, help me by giving up your rights or you're cruel)
You: Yeah, sorry to hear and I can understand that, it's a tough time for everyone (= everyone's struggling, so cut the crap. It MAY include you in that "everyone" , but you don't necessarily have to say it explicitly)

Then you can add some detail if you want, such as:

You: Also me at work, I'm working non-stop to secure new clients (= "poor me too" I'm working over time. So if you guilt-trip to cancel my fees you're unfairly taking from a hard-working man)

Optional:

and chase bills, so many people who don't pay these days, that's really not cool to us lawyers who work hard to do a good job and help them out (obvious power move referring to them: if they don't pay, they're being the assholes who are wasting your time)

That way you empathize, communicate that you're also facing challenges, but without sharing too many (potentially disempowering) details.

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Mats GBel
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?
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