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Credit inflating makes you look bad: example

This lady is usually super cool and I like her.

She left a piece of cheese at my place, which was half consumed, wrapped in plastic, and had some dark spots.

I'm thinking if it's gone bad, so I send her a picture asking if that's how it's supposed to look.

She replies:

Please that is for you 
Is cheese with truffle
It's amazing

It's for me?

A half-eaten cheese in a plastic wrapper you wouldn't serve crack in it?

OK, I'm exaggerating for the sake of it, but the point stands.

It's more like you got it for yourself, and you didn't finish it before it was time to leave, either because it wasn't your favorite food in the world, or because you didn't make it on time to finish it.

And now you're taking the chance to pass it up for a thoughtful gesture.

This is no deal breaker, and not too bad, and I still think she's an awesome lady.

But it did feel unnecessary.

Honesty here was the best policy:

Yeah, I didn't finish it, but it's how it's supposed to be, and it's awesome.
Give it a try, happy for you to enjoy it 🙂

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

This would annoy me a lot!
She probably doesn't know you run a website on power dynamics.

I'm thinking about how to reply to her message.
To encourage more honesty in the future.

Maybe give her a bait to tell the truth:

Her: Please that is for you 
Is cheese with truffle
It's amazing

You: Did you not have time to finish the cheese before leaving?
Maybe I will bring you more in the future :).

So she may blurt out that she may indeed not finish the cheese on time.
Or that the cheese is not to her liking.

My Example - Using Thoughtfulness to Cover Up Inaction

Someone used something similar on me.
Using thoughtfulness to cover up a not so good action.
Rather inaction in this case.
He wanted to cover up his lack of initiative.

Him: I wanted to ask both of you for permission before sharing this work with prospects.
(He was talking to me and another person.
Posturing as thoughtful and power flattery to cover up his lack of initiative.
He said this in a confident way.)

I was a bit shocked but didn't really know how to address this.
But I think it was suspicious because we were all sharing our work already.
It was not a secret to the public.

I remember I said something like

Me: What do you mean? We are already sharing the work in the open.

Him: Yeah, but for this particular work, I wanted to ask both of your permissions first.

I wanted to call him out on the spot but thought that I should think about the situation after the call.
I realised he has been saying that he has reached out to lots of prospects but couldn't get any good leads.
But probably he only reached out to a few people and wanted to convey the image that it is tough to sell.

Now he wanted to give a reason for not sharing all of the work as another excuse for not getting good leads.
He hides it behind needing to ask for permission.

I am testing out this relationship at the moment.
Probably it's a red flag.

Lucio Buffalmano has reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmano

Yeah, it's those small things that make you think "ah come on", and you'd almost hope they didn't do it.

In this specific case, it's one of those small things that stops here from "positive, trustworthy person", to "really great".

YOUR CASE: IT'S GRAVER

In your case though Matthew, I'd consider that a much bigger red flag.

It's one thing to seek some added social credit, it's another to manipulate to cover-up work that is expected.

Also I can't help but notice how effectively he frame-imposed after your first question. More honest people would have bulked a bit, maybe even backtracked, added some justification, or promised to make up for it.

He didn't.

Red flag of an experienced, savvy, and potentially unrepetant manipulator.

If that's the only I saw from him, that one alone would already make me think of potentially dropping him as a potential business partner.

LESSON IDEA: HOW TO ASSESS BIZ PARTNERS

Which gave me an idea: potentially, a lesson in Career University on how to assess characters for business partnerships.

Something for the future, maybe we can open a thread for it.

Matthew Whitewood has reacted to this post.
Matthew Whitewood
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?
Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on May 23, 2021, 1:16 pm

YOUR CASE: IT'S GRAVER

In your case though Matthew, I'd consider that a much bigger red flag.

It's one thing to seek some added social credit, it's another to manipulate to cover-up work that is expected.

Also I can't help but notice how effectively he frame-imposed after your first question. More honest people would have bulked a bit, maybe even backtracked, added some justification, or promised to make up for it.

He didn't.

Red flag of an experienced, savvy, and potentially unrepetant manipulator.

If that's the only I saw from him, that one alone would already make me think of potentially dropping him as a potential business partner.

Thanks for the advice Lucio.
I have not signed any legal documents with him so things are still okay.

It also brings to mind that the most Machiavellian people may pretend to be less Machiavellian at times.
So that people would lower their guard.

LESSON IDEA: HOW TO ASSESS BIZ PARTNERS

Which gave me an idea: potentially, a lesson in Career University on how to assess characters for business partnerships.

Something for the future, maybe we can open a thread for it.

I have been exploring an industry with quite a lot of Machiavellian people.
Arguably good for training power dynamics.
Maybe not so much for building strong, collaborative relationships.

I am still learning about assessing characters for business partnerships.
I find this very challenging as sometimes the dark side only comes out after a while.

Doing mini-projects definitely helps a lot.
In this case, red flags like what we have seen come out.

Lucio Buffalmano has reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmano

Cool, cool, just wanted to give you my personal feel about the individual based on that two-lines exchange, you have a far better picture of the guy.

Usually, you want high-power and savvy partners.
But that power can go both ways: value-adding for everyone, or (selfish) value-taking (win-lose). I put "selfish" in parenthesis because some value-taking isn't even good for the individual doing the value-taking, it's just value-taking for all (lose-lose).

That's why in business -as in any close relationships- it's important to select the right individual.

Otherwise, you're actually better off with a low-power, but benevolent individual.

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Matthew Whitewood
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?
Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on May 24, 2021, 8:01 am

Cool, cool, just wanted to give you my personal feel about the individual based on that two-lines exchange, you have a far better picture of the guy.

Thanks a lot for the feedback :).
I really appreciate the perspective.

I may not have phrased the response properly.
I wanted to say that he may be showing his Machiavellian side too early.
But, I recall somewhere in Power University, the most Machiavellian people don't play the manipulative card during non-essential times.

Usually, you want high-power and savvy partners.
But that power can go both ways: value-adding for everyone, or (selfish) value-taking (win-lose). I put "selfish" in parenthesis because some value-taking isn't even good for the individual doing the value-taking, it's just value-taking for all (lose-lose).

That's why in business -as in any close relationships- it's important to select the right individual.

Otherwise, you're actually better off with a low-power, but benevolent individual.

From this, what comes to mind is that the order of priority is

  1. Benevolence & Value-adding
  2. High-Power & Savvy & Skillset

Maybe not quite so simple but the general idea is that a value-taking person as the decision-making partner is dangerous.
Being high-power & savvy multiplies this danger.

I think the key is to learn to screen for benevolence when one encounters high-power people.
A lot of value-taking power moves would be one red flag.

Lucio Buffalmano has reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmano

Got it, OK.

Quote from Matthew Whitewood on May 24, 2021, 2:49 pm

A lot of value-taking power moves would be one red flag.

Yes indeed, and depending on which type it is, a few of them might be enough.

There are some types of value-taking behavior that benevolent people rarely, if ever, engage in.
So when you see even one of those, one single red flag might be all that is needed.

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Matthew Whitewood
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?
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