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Yeah, I see what you mean and I agree with you. Again, late night sloppy thinking/writing on my side.

I don't think you were saying that, at a personal and human level, "you're not equal, that you're below me, and that I'm above you." Not at all. If anything you have shown in this forum that you are well beyond that. And I don't believe you think I think that way, either (what a problematic sentence structure!)

I also find demeaning when someone who has not put any effort into learning a domain goes into a conversation with experts as if their opinion was as valuable as the experts. That's entitlement and I detest that. And I hope I never do that. When you cite some articles, sometimes I know them (have read the original paper, in rare occasions). From ages 23 - 30 I spent most of my time studying pyschology, and wrote papers about it. This is why I appreciate the work that you do deeply. That doesn't make me an expert (far from that; as you say in PU, there's nothing in the academic the social psychology literature about power awareness, your angle is new). It does give me enough context to 'be a conversation partner' with someone who is an expert in the topic. But that has little to do with what happened here: I think neither of us holds the belief that we are talking about. So perhaps not relevant?

See, what happened here is still the pattern: I wrote without doing and 'empathy check' to power protect the receiver of the message (which you identified). I may have lost some empathy with time, or perhaps when I'm in a rush. I'll have to remember to be 'always on' simulating how what I say could be interpreted by the other person. If anything, this is a major learning because the next few days I'll be in a conference where I'll be meeting people and probably 'doing it wrong' with power protecting were I not at PU/TPM!

What worries me is that that sentence wouldn't have triggered any 'power protect'/empathy checks even if I had time to check every sentence like that. Because the thought 'you're not equal, that you're below me, and that I'm above you' didn't even compute as being in Lucio's head, I didn't think it would trigger this reaction. How many other patterns am I missing? How many things I say are costing me a (future) relationship with new people I meet? How often does this happen IRL? I don't know, because when this happens nobody tells you. And this is worrying. And why TPM's feedback mechanism is wonderful.

Reading a lot and having studied pysch does make me aware of how much you can extrapolate from data or from an experiment. I've come to terms with the fact that pyschology/sociology is going to be sketchy and rarely provide univocal recommendations. We are not building houses here, were we know the resistance of materials, the weight of the roof etc. See the replication crisis pyschology/sociology (scientists trying to replicate famous experiments can't, even those that built careers leading to a Nobel). So what have I learned from all this that could prevent what happened here? Little to nothing. Social psych is non-prescriptive. Decision science is non prescriptive. Which is a pity. They can tell you what you did wrong, but not how to do it right. This is why I like PU so much, because it's prescriptive (for the first time ever in social science!)

Lucio: Truly no bad feelings on my side.

LoF, thank you for the message and explanation.

And however we move forward, I truly wish you a great and successful trip.

I got one last feedback:

I seem to spot a hierarchy of values that puts personal power far above fair relationships and win-win.

It's great to want more power, status, and success -that's why we're all here- but as for everything: healthy balance.
I don't think it's good if that personal power far outstrips all the rest, and comes at the cost of interpersonal relationships.

There's a cost for life effectiveness to seek power while souring relationships, and there is an even bigger cost for personal satisfaction in life.

But there's an equally important aspect of why I need to keep pushing this matter: TPM's culture.
While PU and part of TPM focus on what's effective, we also value and promote a culture that encourages fair and respectful dealing with others as a personal value here.
And I'm keen that the forum showcases those values.

So I'm not happy to see behavior that puts personal power too far above fair dealings with others.
And I'm not happy when it comes at the cost of other people in the community -whether it's me, or anyone else in here-.

Apologies power dynamics: withholding apologies is win-lose. It hoards power, but disempowers others (and harms relationships)

So far, we've been dealing with rather advanced and complex principles and dynamics.

So I'm glad that this one is super simple.

And the sign that power trumps win-win and respectful dealing with others is the subject of this last feedback:

There is not a single apology that I'm seeing in either these last messages, and in the full history here on the forum.

Let's stick to this case only here.

From the beginning:

Quote from leaderoffun on October 12, 2022, 12:43 pm

I agree on what you say but couldn't put it to words before. I see this in myself! You nailed it

In that first message there was much display of growth and learner's mindset.

I was truly positively surprised by it since I was frankly expecting more something along the lines of what was in the follow-up message -which showed a rather different tone instead-.

But even in the display of total ownership and learner's mindset from that first message, strikingly missing was the only concrete, ultimate step of ownership: an apology.

If one sees in himself a behavior that we recognized as social scalping and disempowering to others, then there's only one fair thing to do to re-empower those others: to say "sorry man".

In the second message here:

Quote from leaderoffun on October 14, 2022, 11:20 pm

I get the feeling that I powermoved people here (at least Lucio and Kavalier, possibly others who are silent) without intending to

If someone gets that feeling, doesn't matter whether intended or not, there is one obvious, foundational, and simple step to take: to say "sorry man".

There is nothing more foundational to being a fair and respectful person to others than to say "sorry man" when we recognized we wronged someone.

And now the last last message:

Quote from leaderoffun on October 15, 2022, 9:31 am

Yeah, I see what you mean and I agree with you.


Lucio: Truly no bad feelings on my side.

I won't go into the fact that, given the context, "truly no bad feelings on my side" also smells like a power move.

Instead, I want to stick to simple facts and to this last feedback only:

If one agrees that their action was demeaning to someone else, there is only one thing to do to be fair to that other person: to say "sorry man".

Everything else would have been either fine or even fantastic -and really thank you for the kind words- if that one thing, the apology, had been there.
It's that foundational, that important.

Being able to apologize when called for: an absolute necessity for win-win, and fair and respectful relationships

I was initially going to say that being able to apologize is part of the eagle mindset.

And well, it is.
But more like preceding it.
Because it's far more foundational.

As to next steps, I quote this old post of mine on this same topic, also addressed to you, LoF.
Just swap "Kavalier" for me:

Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on July 7, 2022, 7:08 pm

If you LOF agree with the feedback given then there should be no reason why you also can't apologize to Kavalier, and that's the only way to truly move forward without leaving personal scars.
It's up to you of course, but you should be aware of the consequences (...)

The consequences of not apologizing, in this case, are that you either:

  1. Don't agree with anything you said you agree with
  2. Don't take ownership and responsibility for the various power moves we mentioned
  3. Don't want to re-empower and deal with others (and me in this case) on the basis of fairness and win-win

Feedback from TPM members: yes please

As usual, if anyone has any feedback on this, please do share.

Yes, it's "safer" to stay away from other people's discussions, but this is still our "gym for real life", the stakes are not that high with a nickname online, and it's the only way we can all learn.


Kavalier and Bel have reacted to this post.
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Hey guys

I'm not participating in the forum much (lots of things going on on my life ultimately), though I'm reading whenever I can. This is one thing I'd like to give my opinion on, though.

I fully agree with Lucio when he says that not apologizing hoards power, but disempowers others. And I'd argue that this "hoarding power" effect works only in the short run. In the long run, disempowering others disempowers yourself. I'm more and more convinced that empowerment can never be individual. True power is social – it depends on how many people you have by your side (and how powerful these people are).

Sure, some people can get away with disempowering behaviour here and there – if they have lots of power to spare (which means a strong foundation of social power –  having many people by your side, wich means to have empowered many people to compensate for that one you disempowered). The key word here, though, is get away. It works despite not being optimal.

You have to empower others in order to be empowered back. And keep them empowered. It's important not only for the person that is directly involved, but also for the people who are witnessing the act: people who fail to keep others empowered get a rep for being value takers or ineffective (and to be clear, I don't think this is the case here. LOF is a value giving guy, as everyone I've encountered in this forum. It's just a matter of not falling for social traps).

There is a reason why the stereotype of high social classes' language stereotype is full of "I apologize", "may I", "please". There can be no power without power protection.

2. 'Even if I reply' is a problem. Sometimes I want to reply something matching the effort of the person who responded as a thanks. Even if I don't agree. Still writing long-form in a half-way coherent style is a serious effort for me, and a big investment. I can't really reply long form to everything as I'd like to. And this is a problem at TPM as the culture encourages well-thought out responses, not shitposts. So something has to give. That is, some threads that deserve a deep response ends up without one. Don't take it as a power move; I wish I could communicate this better. And sometimes I don't reply because I don't agree and don't see much ROI for any of the sides to keep pushing the topic.

This is also something worth mentioning, because it seems to me that this is a core belief you have, LOF, and it might become a hindrance. When you say that something has to give, and what "gives" is a proper, respectful answer to someone who spent effort giving value to you, you are subcommunicating that your time/effort is more important than theirs. It's not a "problem" in TPM's culture. It's its biggest virtue. Proper forum etiquette is also, as Lucio puts it, "gym for real life".

It's value-taking territory: you ask, someone gives you their time and effort to help you and you go "answering is not worth it, too big an investment for me". It's not as if people had not to take it as a power move. It is a power move.

Lucio Buffalmano and Bel have reacted to this post.
Lucio BuffalmanoBel

Hello @s-p

Feedback on using the forum, but truly feedback on social exchanges really.

When you say thank you after months on two different topics (here, here) right at the time when you ask a new question, the feeling is obviously that "one is just showing gratitude now in an effort to rebalance things, because they need something".

And of course, everyone seeks to maximize returns, that's what we also learn here, and that's a good thing.

However, it's good to keep a balance.
Plus, when the maneuver is that obvious, the feeling is that one is being treated for a sucker, by a social manipulator.

And nobody wants to be a sucker.

Much better instead to get in the habit of saying thank you and/or giving feedback when someone gave you something soon after you've been given.

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

I've been away for a week and haven't been following TPM forums as I had F2F opportunities that I needed to capitalize on.

My apology

I see that there's a lot of activity and additions to PU that ARE about apologizing and power protecting.

This makes me understand that Lucio was deeply touched when he asked for an apology, and that me not offering one would be a bad thing.

So I apologize, Lucio, because I see that this was unnecessary stress and a poor response to your detailed feedback post, which I really appreciated.

Me being away for so long only added gasoline to the fire. So sorry. Apart from the conference, as I arrived I realized I'm at a point in my life where I have to take two major, life-altering decisions (the post about my personal relationship was one). This is no excuse, I just want to give you context because sometimes you may be tempted to infer something malicious (LoF didn't respond for a week) when in reality the other person has something in his life that limits his ability to exercise empathy.

I have more notes about what I have learned (which is usually good to share) but I'm really limited for time right now and I want to mull them over and write them well.

See, this was not the detailed post I wanted to write either. I could have written it from a tablet in the conference in retrospect. I was not in the mental state to understand that something short would do, which is totally my fault. I apologize for my lack of judgment there too.

Hello Lucio,

I apologize, I was never trying to come off in such a way. I thank you for your feedback, and advice. I will remember this as I move forward throughout life.


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Lucio BuffalmanoAli Scarlett

Wanted to chime in here a bit.

First, let me preface this by saying that LOF and I have e-met and had some awesome conversations, and I consider him a friend. And, of course, I consider Lucio a great, long-time friend as well.

So, while the risks of giving this feedback are there, I do think that:

  • LOF is capable of taking feedback: and disagreeing where he sees fit, which he's always welcome to do
  • Lucio is free to disagree and give me feedback as well: which I'm always happy to take the student role and learn from Lucio's wisdom both when I'm wrong and when I'm right, and especially when it comes to my feedback-giving skills and content

So, on Lucio, I don't have much to say (and only wanted to publish this post after the feedback exchange with LOF seemed to be moving closer to being resolved because it felt out of place to step in and give feedback to Lucio as he's expressing discomfort with having just received some disempowering power moves).

My only thought here is that similar to "power-protecting", there's also "rapport-protecting". And, sometimes I feel that Lucio misses opportunities to protect rapport by sandwiching his feedback (negative information) between positive information.

Keep in mind, I don't think it's necessarily his responsibility to make his feedback less hard-hitting. It's more to his point that, as he states in his fundamental laws of power lesson, one should do their best to make more allies and less enemies. And, I'd say that keeping rapport with allies is a part of that.

So, one way to do that might be by prefacing his feedback with a positive statement and ending on a positive statement as well (Lucio seems to go more neutral in the beginning and the end sometimes).

It's not always possible and, for someone who values their freedom, it may not always be best option since it takes more time and effort.

However, it may be well worth it for a select few high-quality allies (or, those who have the potential to become strong, high-quality allies and produce a solid social ROI in the future).

My thought process behind this is that by not doing this you risk:

  • Inadvertently triggering friends toward value-taking behavior: because they see and focus on the feedback more (which can hurt) and, on a written format/medium (where it's more difficult to read emotions than in person), may feel Lucio is more upset than he actually is. This can lead to them interpreting a negative judge role that may not be there and overreacting emotionally in response.

That may not be the case here at all (and I'd say that it likely isn't), simply food for thought when dealing with less power-aware folks (such as those who may see non-existent negative judge roles), emotional people, or anyone who takes feedback harder than most.

On LOF, I feel like saying "thank you" for giving the apology man, even though it's not about me at all.

I'm simply happy when my friends are happy and getting along and by being willing to apologize, it ends the tension and disagreement a lot faster.

My only note (which I could be totally wrong on, and cool if you think so):

Quote from leaderoffun on October 25, 2022, 9:06 am

I've been away for a week and haven't been following TPM forums as I had F2F opportunities that I needed to capitalize on.

My apology


This makes me understand that Lucio was deeply touched when he asked for an apology, and that me not offering one would be a bad thing.

So I apologize, Lucio, because I see that this was unnecessary stress and a poor response to your detailed feedback post, which I really appreciated.

I felt that there were a few (completely unintentional) power moves there:

  • "I've been away for a week and haven't been following TPM forums as I had F2F opportunities that I needed to capitalize on (that were more important than the discussions in this forum).": albeit it feels relatively in the green to me, it looked like the format of an "I'm busy" power move. I like that you said "TPM forums" rather than specifying it was the feedback thread you deprioritized. Still, rephrasing that part to, "I haven't been following the TPM forum because I've been away for a week," would've been fine, in my opinion. (It seemed like the intention was to give an explanation as to where you've been which is submissive and, therefore, empowering for the receiver. Still, I think that simply focusing on delivering a solid apology alone would've been re-empowering enough and that avoiding that format might've been less unintentionally power game-y.)
  • "Lucio was deeply touched when he asked for an apology...So I apologize, Lucio, because I see that this was unnecessary stress (on you)...": this felt like a covert power move as well. It felt like you were saying you had the power to cause Lucio stress and that that emotional discomfort is what caused him to ask for the apology you're now giving him. So, maybe a better phrasing might be to remove any wording that focuses on how Lucio felt and focus on you as the apology-giver, for example, "This makes me understand that this apology is important for our friendship, which I care deeply about, and that refusing to offer one would be unfair..."

Again, please feel free to disagree anywhere you think I'm wrong, I'm happy to learn from you as well, LOF.

Thank you for reading.

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Lucio Buffalmanoleaderoffun

Thank you so much, Ali!

Very helpful, and some great stuff in your analysis -with which I largely also agree, including -.

If anyone else has anything else to share, go for it :).

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Ali Scarlett
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?
Quote from S.P. on October 25, 2022, 8:21 pm

Hello Lucio,

I apologize, I was never trying to come off in such a way. I thank you for your feedback, and advice. I will remember this as I move forward throughout life.


All good S.P., and actually, thank you for being so cool about it!

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

I think a bit of good or bad day plays in too.  It takes a bit of mental effort to put ourselves in others shoes and look at how are words are perceived and look for win win opportunities.  When we re tired or stressed we fall back into our bad old habits which have been ingrained for years.


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Lucio Buffalmano
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