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Friendship and Leadership: taking over a group

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Hello guys,

so I'm in the process of becoming the leader of a group of friends where we share good fun, board games, partying and nerd culture.

Step 1: I met A. when another friend brought me to a house party where's a jam

Step 2: I saw A. again when we decided to make a band (stalled right now) and we find out we have board games, sci-fi, brazilian jiu-jitsu and hiking as common interests (which is a lot!)

Step 3: A. invited me to his place for a board game with 2 cool friends of him (previous neighbours of his), that's the group I'm talking about: A. B. and F..

Step 4: A. invited us again at his place

Step 5: I invited the group twice at my place for a board game and cooked for them

Step 6: while we were hiking with A., we met 2 cool guys that took us as we were hitch-hiking: R. and JB.

Step 6: we went to B.'s place yesterday (he suggested it last time and I asked him if he was ok)

Step 7: I added R and JB to the group and will go to their place today.

So basically, A. was the de facto leader before. I'm currently maneuvering to dilute his leadership. When I invited them to my place I created a group: "Board game at John's place" and now changed it to "Board games". So basically the previous whatsapp group from A. is no longer used to communicate (A. made the mistake to add F's girlfriend who hates him and F. has fights with her all the time. So my whatsapp group is safe and the other one is not (girlfriend aboard).

So my plan is to build bonds with the group and with A. but not let him step over me. I was not going to be so agressive but he tries to one-up me many times even if we are having a lot of fun together.

He said that if people knew how it was in the hospital, people would see junior doctors as slaves and not be so impressed with us. He attacked me by reminding the group that he gave me some food some time ago and so on.

So basically, I like a group to be equalitarian and for everybody to lead in sequence. But his attacks made me be more agressive. I like him a lot but his attacks make me go more machiavellian. He's very smart also socially but he does not have the resources that I have, thanks to this forum.

I wrote this thread because of a previous post which was multi-topic. So this thread is about becoming the leader of a group. A benevolent one of course, but I have to admit that in a group that is the role I like the most. wink.

I focus on adding value to people as always and I love to cook for them. But I think my mindset will be more benevolent to the group than A's mindset. I'm for fun AND respect.

Also I want to stress that the group F. and B. respected my boundaries when I established them respectfully. My leadership will mostly consist of organizing board games and partying. Sharing knowledge and good fun with common respect. Very simple. It is machiavellian but for the common good (or so I like to think).

Ah!
Finally we got to proper social strategizing, thank you John!
Quote from John Freeman on November 29, 2020, 3:29 pm

I'm currently maneuvering to dilute his leadership.
(...)
He made the mistake to add F's girlfriend who hates him and F. has fights with her all the time. So my whatsapp group is safe and the other one is not (girlfriend aboard).

That's some proper pro-social Machiavellian thinking.

To begin with, absolutely go for the leadership.

It's value-adding if you are a better leader, which it sounds you are, and it's also fair game if you're around the same value.
Plus, he's been playing all those nasty games.

  1. Adding new people reshuffle the dynamics: great move on adding new people, that shifts the dynamics, and since the guys are new, you don't have to struggle with undoing old habits of looking up at A. as the leader
  2. Adding new people automatically raises your position: as long as the people you bring in are good, people see you as the "connector", the guy who brings in new blood and keeps things interesting. Defensive leaders fear connector because the people they bring in are a threat to their statuses, but cool guys in the group love the opportunity

Here is an idea:

  • When he attacks, great! Don't defend: go higher (to the leadership)

Whenever he one-ups he's actually helping you out.

Generally speaking, people want leaders to be people to look up to.
When he's social-climbing on you, he's indirectly raising your status, sub-communicating that he feels threatened, and that his leadership is looking shakier.

There is an example in PU in which I unwittingly ended up social climbing on a guy and took a HUGE -and well deserved!- hit in status and personal value (I was both thankful and proud to have near me the guy who clearly pointed out what a bitch I had been).

The best way to use his mistake is not to make a big show out of it as if to tell everyone "look what an ass".
If he's smart, he's going to learn from that and improve.
And you don't want that. At least not until he's still around the top (Machiavellian thinking).

When he tries to one-up, the first step is to not take the bait.
The next step is to use it as a peg to go higher.

He stoops down to push you down, and instead of fighting back, you go higher -towards the leadership position-.

Imagine this:

Climbing him: when you get to know junior doctors, it's not that impressive, they're more like slaves

It might be tempting to say something like: yeah, next time you're sick, see how fast you're gonna be looking for a slave.
And it wouldn't be too bad of a one-up back, actually.
But you're not in the game of one-upping here, you're in the game of final leadership.

Instead:

Climbing him: when you get to know junior doctors, it's not that impressive, they're more like slaves
You: yeah, in a certain sense, that's not wrong (micro philosopher frame). To me it's not so much about being impressive or anything. I like helping people out, that's what motivates me

Or:

Climbing him: I gave John some food some days ago, the guy was starving

It might be tempting to reply something like "yeah, and after having tasted it, I never forgot my own food again. Ahaha no just joking".
And if said well, it's a great humorous one-upping back.

But you're in the leadership game.

So:

Climbing him: I gave John some food some days ago, the guy was starving
You: yeah, true, and it was also good food man, I appreciated that a lot, thanks (touch him on his arm, too. You frame it as him helping you, and you giving back in gratitude, the stuff of good leadership). It's good to share with friends (indirectly pointing out that it's good to share, but not to make people feel bad about taking what's shared, which is what he was doing)

People watching you behave high-quality start looking up to you, and you become the leader without evening having to fight for the leadership position.

In short: when you behave higher quality than the current leader, leadership often follows naturally.

Call it the "bloodless takeover strategy".

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

You're welcome, but what do you mean?

I read with a lot of attention your answer: enlightening! It's so good I enjoy reading it again now. So here is my answer:

So now, he's becoming quite the frenemy. He cannot attack me in the open because so far I've been value giving to the group mostly through fun and new experiences. However here is his current behavior:

  1. He proposed to play a game online yesterday evening ("among us") which I installed a few days ago. He says: "people are you up for a game at 9:30?". I answer that I would love to but that I will be asleep at this time and hour. He did not answer to me but he did answer to the other guys. So passive-agressive
  2. Saturday A. and I are going to spend the evening with the two cool french guys (R. and JB.) who live in a house they share with roommates (I organized it based on their proposition last week). We met them while hiking and they took us as we were hitch-hiking because we would have had to wait for the bus for 2 hours if not for them. I went to their place last sunday with 2 board games and we had a blast. A. could not come as he was going on a date (he kind of keeps his life secret when not planning something with us: "I was out"). I will call this group: Group House.

2 problems:

  1. I wanted to confront him saturday about the time when he used the in-game negotiation to social climb in the Boardgame group with a lie and an exaggeration (just like the expensive 2 coffee capsules from my colleague, this was very expensive piece of cheese and 2 tomatoes).
    Would you confront him before or after the evening? Or would you drop it and just use the "bloodless takeover strategy" when he attacks. He will attack as it is his pattern of increasing his value.
  2.  I proposed that we could go together by bus to our R. and JB's house and he refused. I said "alright", but it shows his mindset of selfishness/individualism/competitiveness. We would have arrived as friends together. But this was under my proposition so he could not take it. This is to show where our relationship is currently.

Let's talk about strategies:

Group "House": my strategy is to build connections and have fun with them. I'll bring board games, drinks and food. I will also go to the higher road when A. will attack me.

Group "Boardgame": At this stage, I need to build personal relationship with the group members. Right now the bars are closed but I'll propose a drink or coffee during the week to one of them so we can get to know one another 1-on-1. Then next time we play a game during the week-end we will have a stronger bond. I'll do the same with the second guy. This is not purely machiavellian, they are really fun guys with a good heart I appreciate. I would not be so proactive if A. was not such a dick about my place in the group. I also think that A. has quite a superficial relationship with them as he's rival with F. and I'm not sure he knows B. very well. Something also that is important in terms of status is that A. lost status to the eye of one the guys' girlfriend. She said he cannot come to his place but John can. I said in a joking tone: "she's trying to divide us. No I won't go if A. won't as well". It was sincere. They have a shitty relationship but still. I will also go to the higher road when A. will attack me.

My final goal is to create a big group from these two groups by organizing more and more fun events. The only roadblock is my studio is too small. Right now I cannot move out for financial reasons. My social life is becoming more a priority to me: I see how much happier I am since I found these friends. I will find a way between january and june to move out to a bigger place where I can organize parties.

My strength is that I'm genuinely value giving and appreciate people. All this strategizing is to allow the proper environment to blossom (under my leadership of course 😉 )

PS: there's a problem with the formatting. In the "edit view", there are spaces between paragraphs but when I post, they are not present. Please excuse the poor readability.

Fantastic! You're leading, providing value and having fun. Nerd culture can be cool (as long as it isn't just that, but you seem like a balanced guy), it has its bad apples of course, but a lot of cool people too. I enjoy the occasional nerdy thing myself, I play Magic the Gathering: Arena occasionally, do PnP roleplaying and just started playing Dragon Age.

First thing that lept out in my gut is this - his girlfriend is definitely his weakness. He clearly lets her get to him. Yes, she's toxic too and he needs to dump her ass stat, but its on him first - and he's showing to be a poor leader not just of her, but of the group as well. With the guy, he reminds me of a girl who wanted to one-up me and others by attacking: I would remain calm and grounded, lure her into traps, than crush her ruthlessly. As Sun Tzu said 'if your opponent is of choleric temperament, lure them to anger'.

On a similar note, if you enjoy nerdy stuff and also want to learn a bit about toxic parties and power dynamics, may I recommend Critcrab? He's got a lot of funny and insightful videos. This is a favorite of mine.

Lucio Buffalmano has reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmano

John: I read with a lot of attention your answer: enlightening! It's so good I enjoy reading it again now.

Glad it was helpful!

John: Would you confront him before or after the evening? Or would you drop it and just use the "bloodless takeover strategy" when he attacks. He will attack as it is his pattern of increasing his value.

Either drop it, or confront him at the beginning of the evening.
The beginning sends the message that "hey, I just want to clear things out so we can get back to being friends and having a good time".

At the end of the evening, it feels like you were holding back this big secret, plus you end on a low, which is generally better to avoid.

John: I proposed that we could go together by bus to our R. and JB's house and he refused. I said "alright", but it shows his mindset of selfishness/individualism/competitiveness. We would have arrived as friends together.

Yeah, great analysis and read of the dynamics.
Going together would be the most normal thing in this case.
Refusing, especially if without providing a good reason, is a smaller, yet important sign of enmity and competitiveness.

John: At this stage, I need to build personal relationship with the group members. Right now the bars are closed but I'll propose a drink or coffee during the week to one of them so we can get to know one another 1-on-1. Then next time we play a game during the week-end we will have a stronger bond. I'll do the same with the second guy.

Boom, this is at the same time both great strategy, and a natural, great way of moving closer.
As a tip:

  1. Make it low pressure, like on a high, on when it makes sense that you two might need to talk more about a specific thing you say "yeah, maybe we can do a coffee during the week (and talk more about that)"
  2. Better to sure it doesn't seem like you invite him because he's your "preferred choice": as that could indirectly push other down. Point 1 should take care of this

John: A. lost status to the eye of one the guys' girlfriend. She said he cannot come to his place but John can.

Wow, that's far more than just losing status.
That's being relegated to the leper's club.

As long as those two remain together, A. is heavily handicapped.

On the other hand, if they break up, A. could see a resurgence. He will become the "guy who saw what a bitch she was".
So if they have a bad relationship, from a Machiavellian point of view, it's best if you don't get too close to her (especially if she's not such a great person).

Which you did:

John: I said in a joking tone: "she's trying to divide us. No I won't go if A. won't as well".

10 cum laude reply!
I wouldn't have come up with such a good one myself.

The only risk is that this is "throwing her down the bus", and slammed the door shut on her face. Imagine the equivalent of someone making you a gift, in this case a social gift, and you say "no thanks, you can keep it".

HOWEVER, since the "gift" in this case was also harming to someone else, it was truly a great move to refuse.
And the joking tone also softened the door on her face.

So, yeah, perfect both in terms of intentions, of not allowing her to drive and wedge and push A. down (very high-quality place to come from), and in the execution (very socially smart).

John: My final goal is to create a big group from these two groups

Sounds like a great idea, and thumbs up to all the rest as well.
Bigger groups are great, by the way.
There is a tendency to form smaller cliques within, but as long as the cliques are not backstabbing, that's a great thing, it even improves the relationship, and it increases the power of networks.

Imagine like you're going out with one, and they say "oh I saw X the other day", and you reply "awesome, what was he saying, I saw Y, and he's going great". That reinforces you're close not just personally, but also through the larger social circle.
And that same power of network is leveraged if you need something, or want to provide something (being able to provide empowers you) -"I want to organize a special date, not sure what", "man, X is a helicopter pilot, have you thought talking to him, maybe you could schedule a helicopter tour" "dang, genius, thank you so much!"-


P.S.: I'll try to fix the formatting.
Do let me know if you prefer me not to fix it, I can imagine that seeing one's own post edited by someone else can feel like digital, unrequested boundary-crossing :).

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Hello Lucio,

I would be grateful to you if you could fix the formatting. I'll answer to you in more details later.

Cheers!

Hello guys,

so here is how my saturday night went: I was invited to group House when another friend of mine invited me to drinks. So I went to drinks and as I was sitting with my friends I called my other friend from the House group and asked him if they could come. Yes they could. So instead of me and A. going to their house, we were actually 4 people from my group. I brought drinks and food of course AND card games. We played one of their card games and one of mine and we laughed so hard. So it was a success. I could demonstrate myself as somebody who brings quality people together and brings food, drinks and fun.

However, one of my friends from the drinks group broke a glass because he was too drunk and stoned. Also, he did not really help to clean his mess. When you take into account that he was not supposed to be there, not such a good move.

2 interesting dynamics:

The friend who invited me for drinks is the guy that I called to put boundaries with. Now, he's like a lamb with me. He still sat where I was sitting at some point and I had to ask him to move. So he recognize that I'm more powerful than him. However he does not like this situation. I also find he does not bring a lot of value in a group. He's not a generous person. So with him, I'll behave like that: I'll come when he invites me but I won't invite him.

As I was expecting, A. attacked me that evening. He asked me to give him a beer on a tone that was more like tasking me. I did not like his tone so I actually gave beers to other guys first, me then him last. It was actually beers that I brought. He told me: "you're really a chicken stealer". As I was mentally ready for his attack, I said: "why are you saying that" and he explained it once (don't remember, was drunk) and because I did not understand his reason I asked him a second time "why are you saying that?". What surfaced is that he interpreted in some nasty way my current action. I said to him: "dude, I'm actually giving you one of the beers I brought".

I'm actually very proud to have been ready for his attack. I know with him it will be like that for a long time because he feels insecure. So here are my current strategies:

  1. To improve my relationship with A. : each time I'll see him, I'll defend from his attacks and show what I good friend I am.
  2. Organize a board game with the two groups: it's now time that I merged the two because the first group heard that we went to their house without inviting them. So it's starting to get hotter. I have to act fast. Otherwise, I'll be branded like somebody who's divisive or opportunistic.
  3. Build personal relationships with each member of these groups: it's the key to affirm my (soft) leadership. By soft I mean I have no other intention than the good of the group.

What's interesting is that with the improvement of my social life, I'm starting to create some scarcity. Example: when the guys from the House group posted in the common whatsapp group. I got RIGHT AWAY a call from one of my friend who's in the group but who has been kind of snubbing me. FOMO big time. He wanted to know if we were organizing something.

So that's what I'm realizing: as I provide more and more value, I can see clearly who are interested in a friendship with me or in my character and those who are more interested in what I have to provide.

All in all, I think this a great progress. My number 1 obstacle is that I cannot yet invite a large group of people to my place. On the 1st of January I'll look for a bigger place. It's a priority now.

Something also that I realized that contributed to a poor social life in my recent years is that I did not catch up with social intelligence. I was not aware of all the games so I got played over and over again without seeing it. Now that I'm a player I can see where I can take this. Now I want to become a social master like Lucio.

Lucio Buffalmano has reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmano

Rock on, John!

Great way of handling A sneaky bitch :).
Still, as you said, it might be better not to fully frame it mentally as an opponent, or that might lead to some unneeded tension, plus you being unneededly defensive or overly focused on him.
Can't waste too much mental space on the turkeys when you need to fly to the top.

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

Thanks a lot! I started today to look for a new apartment and will be visiting two today.

Hello guys,

so here is where I am:

I organized an evening where the two groups could meet. It was a board game night where I cooked tacos. It cost me about 120 euros to buy all the food and drinks without taking into account the games I bought. So I've been able to achieve the merging of the 2 groups under my leadership: objective achieved. Here are the mistakes I made:

1.I accepted to cook at my friend's F's place. This was my biggest mistake in terms of power dynamics. I knew it was not a good idea but I had to do the experiment. His GF was not there so she "allowed" him to invite friends, meaning to invite A. who she hates and decided to ostracize. So it was actually a gesture of good will from me to accept to do the evening at my friend's place rather than at mine. I'm sure A. understood it. I gave value to him in this way because I facilitated that he could go to his friend's place where he's not allowed to go.

Why was it such a mistake in terms of power dynamics? Because I was actually cooking for my friends in F's place made me look like I was an employee/cook. F not helping with the food was even reinforcing that. A. helped me with preparing the food but the other two did not care. I think it's a huge mistake from their part not even to have proposed to help. If you are a 35 years old male and you're not proposing to help cook the food you're going to eat when the setting is like that, to me it means you're lacking a pro-social mindset. When I cook at my place people will thank me for the food AND the invitation. However, in this case I got only mere thank yous. I spent a lot of time and energy for the group and the group did not recognize it. Two people cancelled so I had to make a few calls and ask my friend's permission to organize the game at this place. I won't do this again. I worked a lot and people still viewed F as the generous person. If I organize, I decide where, when and who comes. If people come: cool! If not: cool!

Actually F wanted to show off his place. That is why it's the second time that when we organize something he wants it to be at his place AFTER I organized everything: games and food. So this was actually social scalping. I did not see it coming. He has a huge apartment with his GF and a very nice view on the lake. That's cool and I complimented him on that. However, it's very far away so it was.

Also, as soon as my 2 friends from group House got out of F's place. F started to judge them: say that he found JB very cool and R a bit uptight. I found this not cool. So actually F lost points with me yesterday evening despite having invited us to his place.

2. I bought too much food. Last time I invited friends one of them (who's not part of these 2 groups) said that there was not enough food (he also pointed out that in Italy you don't put cheese with fish, in this case salmon). So it was a waste of money and more difficult to cook. It's always difficult for me to know how much food is needed for big groups. Lesson learned.

3. I was tired. I now think we should consider our private and social life with at least the same seriousness we do for our work life. We cannot always free flow and let go. We also have to think, prepare, work and strategize for our private life. This costs a lot of energy.

4. I choose the wrong games. I brought a game where you need to think. When we drink on a saturday night it does not work. We had to stop the game.

I also brought special beers for my friend B. and I know he appreciated it. I stopped the thinking game because people were too drunk to play and I was not enjoying it. So I just said: "I'm not enjoying it" and a few people admitted that they were not in the right mood to play the game. It was ok for me. I got out an easiest game and we had a laugh. B. said he was disappointed that we stopped the game. We decided to do it on a Sunday evening next time.

JB spilled beer on the game and proposed me to buy a new one. It was imaginary generosity as I refused, of course. In the end it's B. who helped me to dry the game with the dryblower.

So I'm starting to see that thanks to this forum and course, I'm increasing my social intelligence beyond my friends'. Just like in the godfather. You start by giving value and services and then people want to give back to you, little by little.

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Kellvo
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