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"But I'm not an expert!" covert power move

Hello guys,

Here is a situation I would like your help to analyze.

Population: some patients or patient's parents (same situation) that are often dysfunctional and have big egos and/or think that medicine is a scam/stupid.

Context: medical discussion. We explain something. And then the person implies that it's not the right attitude or that it's stupid without saying it openly. And then concludes by: "But I'm not a doctor!" as a takeway. With lots of body language implying they're very humble and open, but in truth they are not.

In these cases, I interpret it as: "I'm disagreeing with you and I'm implying you're incompetent but I'm not willing to accept responsibility for my reasoning or my disagreement".

So what I do now is to ask: "What do you propose then?" Of course they mumble some shit like: "I don't know I'm not a doctor". After that I answer: "well, what we propose is, etc."

What is your opinion on that?

Cheers!

Lucio Buffalmano has reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmano

Golden power move here.

And very interesting situation, which is socially common, under different guises.

WHAT "I'M NOT X" MEANS

Of course, depending on people and situations, sometimes one can be genuine about their humbleness but, well... Many times, they're not.

That last "but I'm not X" can be a fake humble move functioning as a "last-second cover", turning all the previous attack/disagreement into a covert power move.

First, people put themselves at the same level of an expert and/or criticize and attack, and then retreat under the fake humbleness of "but hey, what do I know, I'm not X".

ANSWERING THE LAST SECOND COVERT POWER MOVE

  • "Well, what do you propose, then"?

I like your option a lot, John, it's golden.

It's a form of "giving them rope to hang themselves", and it amplifies the thread that you want to amplify: the knowledge and authority difference between you two.

Such as, it expands on that thread of "I'm not a doctor", and officializes and surfaces the fact that yeah, indeed they don't know shit, which also undermines (destroys) their previous attacks / criticism.

Let's call it "ignorance-amplifier".

  • "Luckily, I am a doctor"

This is the higher power response.

It can be delivered either right away, or after the ignorance amplifier.

Delivering right away is higher power, steamrolling type of verbal dominance, but it risks breaking rapport, and potentially escalating if the customer has power, or feels like he has power (but it can be good if you're the one with power and wants to remind the other party about it).

For example:

Him: Well, that doesn't really make much sense to me, because blablabla. But hey, I'm not a doctor
You: Well, luckily I am a doctor, and I can tell you that... (= whatever you say doesn't matter, because you're not qualified and knowledgeable to talk, while I am, so listen up)

Delivered after the ignorance amplifier serves as a "last nail in the coffin", as if to say "so from now on drop that attitude".
But it can come across as a dickhead move, like you're clinging too hard on your authority position.
But, if you deliver it with a smile, then it becomes more of a benign power move, as if to say "you were being out of place there, but I'm a friendly guy, and now I'm going to help you with my expertise... ".

John Freeman and Stef have reacted to this post.
John FreemanStef
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

By the way, this is already good to go under the "(proven) techniques".

OK for you if we rename as something more general, like "But I'm not an expert covert power move" and move it in the proven section?

Matthew Whitewood and Stef have reacted to this post.
Matthew WhitewoodStef
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

And very interesting situation, which is socially common, under different guises.

That's why I posted it. I'm sure people here in other professions or situations encounter this situation.

OK for you if we rename as something more general, like "But I'm not an expert covert power move" and move it in the proven section?

Yes, it's better, thanks!

Thank you very much for your answer!

Cheers and enjoy the holiday!

Matthew Whitewood and Stef have reacted to this post.
Matthew WhitewoodStef

I had people who do this to me when I tell them of my doctor's diagnosis. Nothing serious like a cold or allergies.

They disagree with the doctor's diagnosis and say it's a scam. Not sure what they have to gain by disagreeing with the diagnosis of a cold other than a small one-upping power scalping.

I could use the techniques here to let them dig their own grave and expose their ignorance. Then say "That's why we have doctors."

Stef has reacted to this post.
Stef

I could use the techniques here to let them dig their own grave and expose their ignorance. Then say "That's why we have doctors."

You could. Our conversation makes me realize that I prefer to see these as "mindsets" rather than "techniques". To each their own, though. My rationale: the way you think is more important than the way you doi it. That's why there's a creative part in the art part of social skills, the other being science of course. To me it's easier to remember. It's more the engineer thinking: understanding is stronger than knowing. But without knowing there is no understanding. Catch 22, right? I'll leave it there as I haven't gone further yet. It's rather what you value most: thinking or memory. Both are powerful.
Here is an example of what I think, from Lucio:
"giving them rope to hang themselves",
That's a mindset, to me.
  • "Well, what do you propose, then"?

That's a technique, to me.

However, the "why" is more powerful than the "what" I think (thinking vs memory). I'm saying: it's easier to remember when you understand the "why". In this case: if you think: "how can I give them rope to hang themselves", then you will think: "I'm going to say: "Well, what do you propose, then"?" We think in questions and answers. That's the end of the rationale.
That is one of the many reasons why Lucio's teaching is powerful: it's a proper mix of what? how? why? who? when? As you read his material (generally speaking), your mind finds the answers to the questions it had as it is reading the material. And to add to the quality of the teaching here is the icing on the cake. It's designed to help you think in cases (context + people). So when you encounter X case, then your mind already knows the answer to the question ("what the fuck am I supposed to do in this situation?") -> it will answer: "give them rope to hang themselves" then will say -> "Well, what do you propose, then"?. Just saying it's powerful teaching because it's practical. Of course it's reality-based, no doubt. But it's really practical. Like it does change your reality through the change of your perceptions and your behaviours.
Anyway, going back to the topic: that's a classical case (see what I did there? πŸ˜‰ ) of challenging the authority. Which is a mental pattern. I think this pattern emerges from the root idea of slave morality. That's how I view it.
So people who are not in power nor authority (and would like to be, consciously or unconscously) target people in power or authority. That's how it is. We do it overtly (in front of the power or authority) or covertly (in private). That's what people do. Most people in many situations. There's a huge part of us that is very very very monkey-like. With all respect due for our species, of course. Anyway, I wrote too much. Thanks for the mental stimulation, man!
Disclaimer: Sorry for the ugly formatting (font size and space), I could not find a way to fix it despite my attempts. πŸ™
Cheers!

The formatting seems to be challenging at times.
I face this issue as well.

That would be an interesting topic of discussion.
We are probably approaching the discussion and learning in a similar manner.
Due to the nature of forum discussion, we may seem to vary our communication because of

  1. our differing definitions of mindsets and techniques,
  2. the challenge of consistently writing detailed posts to talk about both the specific principle and general concept, and
  3. our preferences for going from specific to general versus general to specific

 

My definitions are roughly along the lines are

Mindsets: a way of thinking and making sense of concepts, experiences, knowledge.
Concepts: how we understand and abstract experiences, data points, perspectives into more general principles.
Techniques: how to apply these concepts to different situations

I will continue to think more about how I structure my thinking.

As John said, usually when I start off on a new, unfamiliar topic, I will memorise knowledge, try applying it to different situations, and see how to make sense of what happened. Then I begin to form higher-order thinking like concepts and mindsets.

Another approach would be to go in with a pre-conception but be willing to change that pre-conception as a beginner on that topic.
Nevertheless, as a more advanced learner, we should also re-look at our assumptions, concepts, and mindsets from time-to-time.

Takeaway for Handling a Covert Challenge to Your Authority Hiding Behind "I'm Not An Expert"

Thanks to Lucio's and John's insights on the situation, we can summarise here.

People often behave as monkeys and resent authority having more power over them. (From John)
At the same time, they do not want to appear as an arrogant dumbass so hide behind "I'm Not An Expert" for fake humbleness to challenge authority. (From Lucio)

Give the person rope by asking him what he proposes. (Lucio, 2020) (using male pronoun for convenience)
So far the challenger has only challenged but not given their own view.

Once his ignorance is exposed, step back in as the authority, and continue the conversation from your frame as the expert. (From Lucio)

Lucio Buffalmano and Stef have reacted to this post.
Lucio BuffalmanoStef

Great summary. Small details:

Give the person rope by asking him what he proposes. (Lucio, 2020)

Once his ignorance is exposed, step back in as the authority, and continue the conversation from your frame as the expert. (From Lucio)

It seems to me that I mentioned it in the first post.

So what I do now is to ask: "What do you propose then?"

Of course they mumble some shit like: "I don't know I'm not a doctor". After that I answer: "well, what we propose is, etc."

Also: this paraphrasing below does not really reflect my thinking. The two ideas are not connected.

People often behave as monkeys and resent authority having more power over them. (From John)

People are evolved monkeys, we just don't like to see us that way. It's not really flattering. We have all these clothes, these degrees, these cars, this art. We are screaming loud and clear: "We are not monkeys!" And yet we are. Biologically speaking of course. We're just the smartest monkey. This could deserve a thread in itself. There are ramifications to this idea: What is human?

Authority have more power than non-authority in a given domain. That's kind of the definition. People would like unconsciously and consciously to be in power. So when they can't, the default mindset is to be angry against the people who have this power. Wether it's justified or not. Of course it's justified that cops have power over us. Otherwise, it would not make sense and be a mess. However, what is the popular opinion one can hear? Cops are pigs. Cops are assholes, etc.Β Most people don't like cops. Not because they are abusing their power (it happens that they do, it happened to me as well) but more because they do have power over us. Doctors is the same shtick.

Matthew Whitewood and Stef have reacted to this post.
Matthew WhitewoodStef

It seems to me that I mentioned it in the first post.

You did mention the concept implicitly in your original post with how to apply it to your given situation.
Lucio elaborated on the concept more generally.
I could see how the summary should include your name as well.

Clarifications on Our Discussion on Authority and Monkey-Like Behaviour of Humans

Elaborating further on this thread because I think it's relevant towards why people resent authority:

So people who are not in power nor authority (and would like to be, consciously or unconscously) target people in power or authority. That's how it is. We do it overtly (in front of the power or authority) or covertly (in private). That's what people do. Most people in many situations. There's a huge part of us that is very very very monkey-like. With all respect due for our species, of course. Anyway, I wrote too much. Thanks for the mental stimulation, man!

People often behave as monkeys and resent authority having more power over them.

I might have misinterpreted your paragraph.

Most people in many situations. There's a huge part of us that is very very very monkey-like.

I interpreted "most people in many situations" to mean a majority of people target people in power or authority.
Then the next statement "There's a huge part of us that is very very very monkey-like" to follow from the previous statement.

I interpreted "monkey-like" to be similar to a monkey, but we have evolved to be different from monkeys albeit genetically very similar.
I connected this to the previous statement "most people in many situations" and understood the meaning to be that most people resent authority because of their monkey-like behaviour.
Which I paraphrased to "people often behave as monkeys".

Myself (Matthew): ...and resent authority having more power over them.

John: Authority have more power than non-authority in a given domain. That's kind of the definition.

This could be another miscommunication.
What I meant was

People resent authority because authorities have power over them.

Which, as you mentioned, is because people would like unconsciously and consciously to be in power.

The Conclusion I Drew

I did connect the 2 ideas between monkey-like behaviour and resenting authority because it made sense to me.
Evolution required us to have certain survival mindsets and traits.
One of which is that having social power and influence is useful for survival.

But some of these traits are maladaptive in our current society.
As such giving more power to those who can help us.
In this case, giving more power to an authority, doctor, to treat our medical condition.

Nevertheless, logically it makes sense, but people's brains go "danger, danger", I'm giving this person (doctor) too much power over me.

Another reason is that we are often skeptical of giving strangers too much power in our lives.
I do feel more comfortable around my trusted doctor after seeing him repeatedly and recovering well from his diagnoses and prescriptions.

I did get a misdiagnosis before from a doctor before, which I never went back to.
But I would not let this incident skew my impression of the profession because I trust and respect the rigour and accreditation of the profession in general.

I suppose this is still relevant to this thread because it explains why people use the manipulation "I'm not a doctor" power move.

Stef has reacted to this post.
Stef

I could see how the summary should include your name as well.

I don't care about my name included. I just did not feel it was portraying reality. Thanks for the gesture, though! πŸ™‚

There's a huge part of us that is very very very monkey-like. With all respect due for our species, of course.

To clarify: Yes, these are the limits of forums. I could not convey my thought properly. With body language I would have implied that I cannot say more without being impolite. It misses a layer to interpret the information, I agree. This lacks clarity. What I meant is: I would have liked to say we are evolved monkeys but did not want to hurt anyone. I don't know what beliefs the people who will read this, have. So "very very very monkey-like" means "evolved monkeys" in my mind. But it's not politically correct in certain circles.

This could be another miscommunication.

It might be. We might be saying the same thing. Re-reading the text, that's how it feels to me now.

In this case, giving more power to an authority, doctor, to treat our medical condition.

Nevertheless, logically it makes sense, but people's brains go "danger, danger", I'm giving this person (doctor) too much power over me.

Here we have an IQ problem and a perception problem. Many people don't understand well the World around them. So they have a distorted view of the World. Like I do. It's normal. The thing is that in these kinds of interaction it's apparent. Their perception of reality is off. So they don't make good decisions for them. They submit when they should stand and rebel when they should submit. There is a confusion around the locus of control. I'll stop saying "they". We think we have control over some things, which we don't. And we think we don't have control over other things, which we do. Your example above is a typical example. I experienced it. But that's the problem with experts. I also feel that way sometimes in some situations when I feel I'm out of control and I have to trust an expert on a matter where I have no clue.

That is an important part of self-development: differentiate benevolent from malevolent authorities (see my post about malevolent vs benevolent leadership). And that's where people are off. I'll give you a real example: a mother does not vaccinate her child. Now her child has cancer. Her child is getting the most powerful drugs known to man to cure her and manage the side effects of the disease and the drugs. You see the irony? I'm not saying she was wrong not to vaccinate her child or that there is a causation between the vaccination and the cancer. I want to show here that when it was something benign for prevention, the mother rebelled. Now, she does not have any choice any more: either she goes with what the authority says or her child dies. Simple equation. And now she submits. I want to clarify: that is not AT ALL the type of relationships I cultivate with my patients and their parents (NOT submission/domination). However, this is how some people behave.

Another reason is that we are often skeptical of giving strangers too much power in our lives.
I do feel more comfortable around my trusted doctor after seeing him repeatedly and recovering well from his diagnoses and prescriptions.

True statement.

As such giving more power to those who can help us.
In this case, giving more power to an authority, doctor, to treat our medical condition.

I'm afraid it's not such a clear cut. Because of uncertainty. There is a grey area. We do what we think will help the patient. But sometimes we are wrong, whatever power we would possess. People make mistakes. So don't give doctors or anyone else too much power over you. I would say: give them respect, empathy and an open hand like you would to any other individual on this planet. And you might meet someone who will be willing to do the same. I think that's very important for this condition to be the starting point. Because let's say your doctor is not able to help you or is unsure of what to do. If you have this relationship, he will tell you and help you get a better treatment. It's not about throwing money at a problem or power at a person. It's finding the right person to solve the right problem.

I did get a misdiagnosis before from a doctor before, which I never went back to.
But I would not let this incident skew my impression of the profession because I trust and respect the rigour and accreditation of the profession in general.

That shows how a discerning indvidual you are. Not going from one instance to generalization.

I suppose this is still relevant to this thread because it explains why people use the manipulation "I'm not a doctor" power move.

Yes, but the ones who use it the most are the most manipulative individuals. They need to feel in control and hate not to be. So they'd rather fight to lose than not to win. I hope this is clear: when they cannot "win" (in their minds), they'd rather lose. This is stupid and it's the outcome they get (as the "stupid" definition from Cipolla).

Matthew Whitewood and Stef have reacted to this post.
Matthew WhitewoodStef
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