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Dealing with people who force you to say "thank you" (AKA: "social scalpers", not "service oriented" folks)

Have you ever been around someone who made you feel like you always had to say "thank you"?

They say things like:

  • "I did this for you"
  • "I'm always here for you"
  • "Ask me any time"
  • "Check out those links I sent you"

And the most gung-ho will frame it as if there action was "special just for you":

  • "For you, any time"
  • "I made this exception just for you"

Some people call this behavior "service oriented", which has a positive connotation.
However, when it's too much, this behavior is not kind anymore, but it becomes exploitative. I call it "social credit scalping".

The game here is that the more they force you to say "thank you", the more in debt you become (see "law of social exchange"). And the more in debt you become, the more they might able to ask you back in the future.
Even if they might not ask you anything in the future, it's still annoying to be the one who "owes" them and the one who's taking -who wants to feel like a freeloader?-.

An Example of Social Credit-Scalping

This lady is super kind.
And she just wants to be helpful.

Yet, it feels like I am always in a position to say "thank you" to her, even for things I didn't need.

See one example here:

a text example of social scalping

She did the same thing later with the towels.
I told her I don't need extra towels, and she brought them anyway.

Or see here more examples of unneeded advice that forces me to say "thanks" for advice I didn't really need, from the same person:

a text example of social scalping

This is all information I either knew of, or didn't need. But since she's putting in the effort to give it to me anyway, it still frames her as the giver and me as gaining from her kindness (without giving back)

This happens so frequently that by now every time I get a message from her I'm thinking "what should I say thank you for, today?".

How to Deal with Social Scalping

So, how do you handle it so that you don't look like you're always just taking?

Well, one way is to play the same game back.
Instead of the usual "thank you", you reply in a way that puts her in the position of saying "thank you" to you.
Or, at least, reply in a way that shows you are also a giver in this interaction:

a text example to rebalance the social exchange

"Awesome" is better than "thank you" because it frames the exchange in a more neutral way.

The next bit, "I'm taking good care of your beautiful place" is nonsense from a transactional point of view. It's totally unneeded information, "taking care of the place" is something you should do anyway, and it's something I would not normally say. But it makes a lot of sense from a social-exchange point of view.

It frames me as a giver, and frames her as the receiver of my kindness.
It's playing the same game that she (subconsciously) played.
I don't like playing these games, but sometimes you're forced to if you want to rebalance the relationship.

In Social Power there are more techniques to deal with social scalping when it comes from a more malignant power player.

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Deleted userSocial_Strategist#1dj_ak96ZheterselffriendBelsecretkeyKmzammaRobertoPower Duck
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it's good to read this article .... wait, no need to feel to thank me. haha

you said "I don't like playing these games, but sometimes you're forced to". why did you feel that you were in the position to be forced that way?


Always enjoy reading your blogs, Luciano. Keep them coming.

I'm guessing the lady wanted some reassurance that you'd leave a positive review after your stay. I wonder if you did?





LOL, good one @jasim-abdulla

"Forced" might have been to strong a word.
Let's say that if I wanted to keep the relationship more balanced, than I knew I had to play that same game back on her. In that sense, people who play games or power moves always "force" you to play back... Or else, you get played.
That's why I recommend that for good relationships, you want to pick partners who don't play too many games (and never partners who play nasty games). So everyone can chill and be more their natural selves.


Yeah, that's definitely a big part of it.
That being said, why someone plays certain games does not necessarily excuse the game, and it certainly does not void its effects. If we always look for why someone is doing something, we'll almost always find a reason, and we end up making excuses for behavior that should not always be excused.

The tendency of some people to look for excuses ultimately advantages the abusers and disadvantages the straight shooters.
This is something that Marta Stout also talks about in "The Sociopath Next Door", and George Simon in "In Sheep's Clothing", the latter one of my favorite books on (covert) social abuse and power moves.

Cheers guys!

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I had a conversation with a female fiend yesterday about games, I told her that the girls only play games, for instance, i once asked a girl out and she gave me lame excuses , such as she would be busy with her friends out.

in my opinion, the more girl is interested in a man the less chances she will play games with him. or what's your opinion ?

I understand how to deal with people who force you to day thank you from the course. I am still a bit confused about how sorry can be a power move.  Can you please explain more about how to tell when a "sorry" is straightforward and genuine and when it is not?

The main time I can think of a "sorry" power move is if they don't really mean it/sarcastic/fake dramatic/condescending.

Like the movie Mean Girls, if Regina George said "aw, I'm sorry, did I hurt you?" and then leaves because she's glad she hurt them. Implying that she has the power to easily hurt or that they should feel bad because they're easily hurt like a baby. I haven't seen it used much, but I'm not these very socially competitive environments.

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