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"Dark psychology" material: should you learn them?

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This is an answer to a question from Valentin:

But I also stumbled upon some darker psychology, NLP stuff you know. What do you guys think of this kind of teaching?

As a general principle, it rarely hurts to learn anything new.

And learning about manipulation strategies and techniques, as part of "advanced social skills", is a great way of leveling up your social effectiveness.

That stands even -and maybe particularly so- if one aims at being a generally value-adding individual and a "force for good", as this website promotes.
One, because you absolutely need to know how to defend yourself, and two, because in some limited situations in life, it's fair -or even advisable- to deploy some Machiavellian strategies.

Most "Dark Psychology" Material Is Marketing Scam

About the courses / websites / books that were marked as "NLP" or "dark psychology", I can't recollect of any single one that made me think "this is great material."
Many of them are 90% marketing and little content.
Dark Psychology 101 for example, the first result on Google when you search for "Dark Psychology", is time waste (sometimes this website's article is first, it depends).

That's my experience.
If anyone instead has stumbled upon any good material on NLP, "dark psychology", hypnosis that actually works or that is well-researched... I'm very happy to hear.

On Being Value-Adding or Machiavellian As Life Approach

Now the deeper question:

Should you aim in life at being value-adding, rather than seeking to defect/short-change/manipulate/coerce others?

If we only had two binary options, then value-adding is the likely obvious winner in most cases, for most people.

The "dark psychologist" approach to life is, to me, obviously flawed.
The reason is simple: who wants to spend their time with a manipulator, when they can have a honest collaborator?
Usually, it's either those who don't see manipulation -not the highest quality people around- or other manipulators who don't know any better -not the highest quality people around, either-.

But if one had to choose between opportunistically defect/cheat or always add value, then a succesful opportunistic Machiavellianism might come on top IF we're talking purely about selfish-interest and personal gains.

But that would also be an unfair comparison.
The enlightened collaboration that this website promotes is NOT about always adding value to anyone.
That's a naive collaborator, and it's, well... Naive.

Perfectly Opportunistic Machiavellian

Still, even a high-quality, enlightened collaborator, might come out short in terms of personal gains against a perfectly opportunistic Machiavellian.

But that's also an unfair comparison.
There is no perfectly opportunistic manipulator, since nobody knows in advance what's the cheating that will succeed, and what will come back to bite them in the ass.
Perfectly opportunistic would mean to know the future, and nobody knows that.

In general, the longer the relationship, the poorer the opportunistic Machiavellian performs, since more of his lies will come up.

If you check out my latest journal entry on my brother, he could be labeled as "opportunistic Machiavellian".
But since we're talking about long-term relationships, everyone eventually figured him out, and he lost status and respect.

Life Approaches Reflect In Your Persona

There is also another element that makes opportunistic Machiavellianism a danger, and it's in the mindset and self-esteem.

When you know that you're a generally value-adding, straight-shooting, fair player, it will permeates your whole being, and that results in much higher confidence and self-esteem.
On the other hand, an approach to life where you're always monitoring when it's time to collaborate or cheat, and how you can hide your tracks, is far more likely to lead to a less confident behavior, together with a general lower self-opinion of oneself.

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

Is it a complex topic?

I think an article on "Machiavellianism" -and how to become more of a Machiavellian, when needed- is long overdue.

Matthew Whitewood, Stef and Valentin2 have reacted to this post.
Matthew WhitewoodStefValentin2
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

How about Shogun Method?

Stef has reacted to this post.
Stef

How about it?

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Stef
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

“If anyone instead has stumbled upon any good material on NLP, "dark psychology", hypnosis that actually works or that is well-researched... I'm very happy to hear.”

Do you know “shogun method” by derek rake?

Stef has reacted to this post.
Stef

The original post is about general principles anyway, beyond any specific product.

Now, about "Shogun Method", the first time I heard about it was 10 minutes before your message on this forum, so I can't say much about this specific product.
If I get more good feedback on it, I might definitely look into it, thanks for flagging it.

 

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Stef
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

When you know that you're a generally value-adding, straight-shooting, fair player, it will permeates your whole being, and that results in much higher confidence and self-esteem.
On the other hand, an approach to life where you're always monitoring when it's time to collaborate or cheat, and how you can hide your tracks, is far more likely to lead to a less confident behavior, together with a general lower self-opinion of oneself.

I would consider the "proud value taker/proud nasty guy" maybe an exception to that up to a point since that one may gain self-steem, as he literally is proud of nasty behavior, (he is proud of being a scumbag, unluckily at least from the point of view of the people who have to deal with him, a pretty anti-fragile identity) lol.

What do you think guys? Do all people would take a self steem hit or there may be some exceptions?

Lucio Buffalmano has reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmano

Great point, Stef!

I found though that most "proud value-takers" identity and persona is not so strong and monolithic.
Their self-esteem is often high, but also fragile.

It's just too difficult to refill your self-esteem on something for which the whole world thinks makes you an unworthy human being.

So you will catch plenty of glimpses of their proud value-taking, like bragging of stealing or manipulating others.
But then, when confronted, they'll quickly backtrack. Especially if there are people around, since they know that stance comes with a big social cost.
And they need to be more guarded as to when they can be their true selves -which is why you'll sometimes catch their true personality when drunk, or with off-handed remarks-.

Such as, their pride is internal, but they most often have to keep it hidden, which leads to a generally weaker internal frame as compared to one who is proud of adding value, and doesn't have to hide much -or anything- with others.

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Stef
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This reminds me of a particular high-powered executive in a multi-national corporation.
I had the opportunity to interact with this individual on a few occasions a few years ago.

She seems to fit the profile of an opportunistic Machiavellian.
Due to her high-status profile, she lets people come to her and takes value in terms of their ideas and knowledge.
She frames many meetings as she is expending valuable time of herself and her department.
Uses a lot of pauses, puts pressure to get people talking, and asks difficult questions.
As such, individuals share a lot of information with her, at least for those below her or external vendors.

Then she claims credits for all these ideas and contributions to high-profile people.
Excellent networker in her industry.
She has won some prestigious awards for her work.

Someone did tell me that a strategy was to include alcohol into the interactions during events.

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Lucio BuffalmanoStef

Great example, Matthew!

Yes, that's textbook opportunistic, high-power Machiavellianism.

She cheats with those beneath her, who matter little to her whether they find out or not, and deliver to those above her, who do matter to her.

The fact that word came out of her behavior though also highlights the risks of that same strategy.
Chances are her reputation was that of a cheater in the end, both up and down the chain. I'd be curious to see who her partner is, what her relationships in life are like.
Not necessarily saying they're poor, but when you go that mindset, you tend to carry it over everywhere, and it's tough to keep high-quality people in your life with that attitude.

Definitely worth a post!

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Stef
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