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Dominating by using the group

Hello guys,

Example 1

In an example from PU where people are talking loud in a theater behind you. Lucio noted that:

Furthermore, it sounds too judgmental with the "this is a movie theater" and can invite unneeded escalations.

This means that by using the social norm of the "movie theater" environment, we're using the (imaginary) group against the person talking loud.

Example 2

Quote from John Freeman on January 1, 2021, 1:03 pm

In the whatsapp group that I created about board games:

  • Me: Happy holiday to all and see you soon for new fits of laughter!
  • A. (so funny): a picture of a board game he bought.
  • Me: Cool!
  • A.: I count on you (plural) to be smarter than 10 years old (because the game is from 10 years old)
  • Me: We count on you as well!
  • A.(backtracking): It's not going to be easy.
  • A.: Merry Christmas guys!
  • JB: (quoting A.) You're asking a lot I think...

In this example, I used the group against A. because I think he was being disrespectful.

Example 3

Today, at the hospital, one of the stupid nurses (by Cipolla definition) did this. She does not like a patient's mother and has started to fight her covertly by using the hospital "rules". I put quotes, because there's always a possible interpretation and she uses them agressively instead of helpfully. This parent smokes outside and she brought a small tree for Christmas. And there is "dust" in the room. This does not fit with the nurse one bit (it's "her territory", or so she believes. So she calls the hospital hygiene to know about the rules (and interpret them) and says that from now on the parents have to wear the masks in the room. They also have to go from the hospital room to their home and cannot wander in the corridors anymore.

She added at the end: "but that makes much more work for us". What? There's no relation at all between this and them having to do more work. Also, she's the one who stayed in the room, preventing me to examine the patient. And after that she was the one who had the information about the patient's current state and could short-circuit me. And yes, it's the nurse who already had Covid and does not want the vaccine. So yes she's a pain in the ass, trying to dominate people around her through manipulation for a lose-win situation. Nasty nurse.

So my goal with this thread is to talk about using the group as a "Power Move". @lucio: personally I feel more comfortable to use "domination" rather than "power move" because I understand it better this way.

What do you think about this topic? Proper way of doing it? Ways to avoid?

A few points that come to mind:

  1. How value-taking is the person's behaviour to other people?
  2. Your social capital in that environment
  3. How likely people support your stance in that specific situation?
    Point 2 and 3 helps with this but not always.
  4. Do you have authority over that person?
    If you have authority, you can encourage pro-social behaviour more easily.

Example 1

If the person shouts so loudly in the movie theater that 20 people can hear him, it is easier to recruit the environment on your side and bring in the frame of "this is a movie theater."

If you visit the movie theater so regularly and put in the effort to make friends with the security and movie attendants, you can probably back up this stance by getting them on your side when the person retaliates. Also good if you have a few friends beside you to back you up as well.

Most people would like to have a quiet environment when watching a movie.

In this case, you don't have direct authority over the person.

Example 2

In this case, his comment is value-taking to the whole group.
And I suppose John has social capital in the group as well.

Most people would support your counter-remark because you are standing up for the team against value-taking behaviour.
In this case, I'm not sure if John has direct authority over the person. But probably not if it's a social group.

Example 3

Hard to say about this environment as it seems more complex.
The nurse's behaviour seems value-taking in general from my impression.

Were there other people in that situation where you were closer or allies with?

Probably you can rebut her appeal to this hospital-rule frame if most people would not agree with her.
This may require some work to shift the frame away from her frame of appealing to hygiene.

Not sure if John has direct authority over the nurse.

Hey John,

This is a great thread, and I think this dynamic deserves its own name.

In the specific of your examples, there is a common thread in these situations, but I think they are slightly different cases to be grouped under "using the group".

They could be grouped together, but then we should go to a higher level of abstraction, such as something like:

  • "dominating through appeals to higher authority"

Or even more general:

  • "dominating by borrowing power from external sources"

So maybe calling it "power-borrowing"?
Please let me know what you guys think a good general name for this power move.

Those "power-borrowings" could be the group everyone belongs to, but could also be something/someone else.

Incidentally, there was an example of this dynamic in a recent YB video:

Her: my parents are traumatized by all this

Talulah Riley increases her power to devalue and hurt Elon Musk by adding more people who are "traumatized" at her life with his partner: her parents.

And while all the examples you mentioned above are power-borrowings, they are not all "using the group".
We'd have:

  1. Case 1 "this is a theater": appeal to "proper rules of conduct" as sanctioned by society
  2. Case 2 "we also... ": using the group (here the title applies)
  3. Case 3 "rules are.. " appeals to the book/rules/SOPs

So, of course, how to deal with the specific situations also depends on the specific case we're dealing with.
But some general ways of dealing with "power borrowing":

  1. Question the legitimacy of the external power / authority: "what society sanctions as right or wrong doesn't make it right or wrong" / "what the rules say are not helping the people, so we must change those rules"
  2. Reframe / change the meaning of the external power / authority: "it's not true the rules say X, the rules say Y"
  3. Dismantle the link between the power mover, and the higher authority: "you're not speaking in the name of everyone else, you're only speakign for yourself"
  4. Keep the frame on the individual, cut out the external power: "it doesn't matter what your parents think, this is about us, about you and I. Are you traumatized by this whole experience?
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Really insightful.
This is quite a common power move.
It is also an effective counter power move.

Names that come to mind

  1. Power-borrowing (from Lucio)
  2. Power-recruiting (from Lucio's video)
  3. Power-gathering
  4. Power-summoning
  5. Power-hailing

Riley: my parents are traumatized by all this

In this case, we could also use the surfacing technique to get her to elaborate.
The vague nature of the external reference allows her to recruit her parents.

Elon: What do you mean by "traumatized"? (surfacing technique)

Elon: Was it your mum or dad? (another possible surfacing)

Using Lucio's techniques

Riley: my parents are traumatized by all this

Elon: Your parents were smiling. (Reframe / change the meaning of the external power / authority)
Besides, they didn't move in with us. (Dismantle the link between the power mover, and the higher authority)
I want to know how you feel. (Keep the frame on the individual, cut out the external power)

In one example in Power University, Donald Trump used this technique effectively:

Journalist: And this is them saying it, not me
Trump: This is them? What do you mean by “them”. (Surfacing technique, "Who said it?")
This is one or two people, and what about the positive people. (Question the legitimacy of the external power / authority; in this case, by framing the external rpower as the minority, negative people)

John's Example

She does not like a patient's mother and has started to fight her covertly by using the hospital "rules". I put quotes, because there's always a possible interpretation and she uses them agressively instead of helpfully. This parent smokes outside and she brought a small tree for Christmas. And there is "dust" in the room. This does not fit with the nurse one bit (it's "her territory", or so she believes. So she calls the hospital hygiene to know about the rules (and interpret them) and says that from now on the parents have to wear the masks in the room.

A possible reply

John: Yes, we have to take hygenine seriously.
At the same time, the hospital also wants us to put the welfare of the patients first. (Reframe / change the meaning of the external power / authority)
We have taken the necessary precautions on hygeine.
Everyone wants to celebrate Christmas. Let's live a little. (Borrow your own external power from the festive season)

Great post, Matthew.

Yes, saying "they said" is both an undercover attack and, partially, a power-borrowing power move, since "they" implies plural, so it becomes "a group of people VS you", rather "I VS you".

I went for "power borrowing" for now since the "borrowing" fits well with the social dynamics parallel of the exchange, but if something better comes up, we can rename it.

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?