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A mafia boss teaches power with collaborative frames: an example

If you've been reading around here, you know I talk a lot about collaborative frames.

The reason is simple: friends and collaboration empower, enemies and constant escalations disempower.

Sometimes though you need to enforce your boundaries, and a stronger approach is needed.
However, it's still possible to enforce your boundaries with a collaborative frame first.

I absolutely loved this example from "A Bronx Tale":

Lorenzo: (speaks aggressively and somewhat disrespectfully)
:  First of all, I respect you, Lorenzo, you're a stand-up guy and we're from the same neighborhood, but don't ever talk to me like that again

Notice that Sonny has no real need to be kind.
He's got the power there. He is in his own bar, he has a friend beside him, he is possibly armed, and he is a mafioso who can get back to Lorenzo at any time.

And still, he avoids going full-on escalation by first posing an olive branch and then enforcing his boundaries.
The olive branch also allows Lorenzo to calm down and take a step back and, potentially, to also extend his olive branch.

Much of mafia bosses' power is based on having allies. It might not be a coincidence that you see so many collaborative frames in mafia movies.
That's what makes great mafia bosses great: they have lots of allies.

It doesn't work out well in the movie's script, but it does improve the odds.
And it can work out to your favor in real life more times than not, in real life.

I highly recommend adopting the same technique in your life.


J Les and Luke have reacted to this post.
J LesLuke
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I use a similar technique when I need to voice strong disagreement with someone.

Then, I might say something like this:

Look, let me preface this very quickly. We are not what we say. You are bigger than whatever you say. That's why I believe we can be though on things we say, while being respectful of people. And I respect YOU as a person, OK?
Now, that being said, here is what I completely disagree with....

Now you are free to say whatever you want to say, without offending the person.
If you don't preface it like that, most people will always take offense on your criticism, because people tend to fuse what they say and believe with who they are.

Also, you obviously come across as sharp, respect-worthy, and leader-like.
You gain personal points, which only makes it far more likely that you will be able to persuade them to your point of view.


J Les and Luke have reacted to this post.
J LesLuke
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Classic post.

Here is my summary of enforcing boundaries:

  1. Set collaborative frame before (I respect you as a person)
  2. Enforce boundaries (I don't like this or that)
  3. Explain why you’re enforcing your boundaries (Because I think it's important to...)
  4. Set collaborative frame (And I want to have a good relationship with you)

Would you say this is accurate?

Lucio Buffalmano, nikhilG and 5 other users have reacted to this post.
Lucio BuffalmanonikhilGnaathh12@gmail.comDeleted userLorenzoELukePerfect Circle

Yes, thumbs up, great format.


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Thanks! I learned all this from you. I put together the idea of collaborative frames and the idea of explaining why we are enforcing our boundaries.

It works. So, I did not know I was going to say it in this post but here it is:

I warmly recommend people to do Lucio's course Power University. For many reasons. In a few weeks, I increased my social intelligence by manyfold. I do think it goes together nicely with the forum as a student like me can ask his specific questions and understand how the theory applies to one's particular case. So that was about how much value I'm getting, thanks to Lucio.

Now, about the "it works". Today, a nurse (yes once again), was in a way doing my job like explaining everything to the patient without having to do the paperwork or understanding the whole story. Like in the beginning of seeing the patient, he's doing his evaluation and goes to the parents: "oh we're going to do this and this and then blablabla" while I had not even seen the x-ray (done in another hospital) so we did not have a proper diagnosis yet.

He does it once more by giving advice contrary to mine to parents regarding the use of Paracetamol and Ibuprofene. Anyway, My ego gets pissed. I detached (Jocko Willink) and I think about the problem I'm facing.

It's a communication problem. So I have to enforce boundaries regarding a communication problem. Much clearer.

So I go to him in public (my idea was to do it private, but I felt it was the right moment) and I go (I had prepared my communication strategy beforehand and my intention was "collaborative frame", "collaborative frame", repeating it in my mind):

Talking about that, you know when we communicate with patients... Well, first I want to say that I respect your experience (his eyes were beaming when I said that). You know you told everything to the parents before we were sure that we were going to do this (they also get a lot of info from their nurse colleagues beforehand). I think that if we're on the same page it's better. Also, when you give advice to patients after I have also given them advice and they came from another hospital where they also were giving confusing information, I think it's better that we make sure we say the same thing.

He goes: oh yeah totally, I agree.

End of story. I could have posted that in my journal ("journey to assertiveness") but I had to pay homage to the technique in the corresponding thread.

So, all of this to say a word of encouragement (not a power move 😉 ) to people like me (see, not a power move 😉 ) who are developing their social skills. By studying, practicing, asking questions. It works. See my journal for another post regarding assertiveness.

Thank you very much Lucio!

Lucio Buffalmano, Astronomically Revolutionised and Luke have reacted to this post.
Lucio BuffalmanoAstronomically RevolutionisedLuke

Rock on, John, rock on!

You came up with that neat 4-steps process, and you implemented it in real life, where it really matters.

So, thank you, I will add it to Power University in the very next upgrade, link here, and credit you as the one who came up with it.



Luke has reacted to this post.
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So it's a team effort then! Thank you very much for the appreciation.


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