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How Do You Tell Whether Concessions are Submissive, Value-Adding or Power Moves?

Let me preface this by saying that this may be a very general and big topic.

Lucio brought up placating power moves and emotional concession power moves on the other thread.
Getting paid from Machiavellian former boss

It makes me think about how concessions can seem so different depending on how you deliver the concessions.

Let me quote Lucio's examples along with others after setting up the context of the nature of concessions.

Concessions: Submissive, Value-Adding or Power Move

A concession can be either

  • Submissive: You give way to the more powerful opponent because you have no choice
  • Value-adding: You give a concession to the other party because it adds value to them and the overall discussion
  • Power Move: You frame the other party as needing your concession while you have the power to choose whether to concede

Overall, I feel that it boils down to whether the concession is

  1. Out of your choice and from a powerful position
  2. How do you frame yourself relative to the other person?
    • Am I giving because you have more power, and I need to please you?
    • Am I giving because I have the power to give?
  3. Value Social Exchange
    • Does the concession actually give any tangible value?
    • Am I getting back something for the concession?

Tonality

Lucio advised that tonality is important during a concession.
Is the tone

  • Submissive and Afraid
  • Assertive in between submissive and aggressive
  • Warm & friendly
  • Dismissive
  • Sarcastic
  • Indifferent
  • Dominant and Powerful

For example, the phrases

  • As you wish
  • As you request

can be submissive (stuttering & high-pitched), value-adding (warm & friendly) or power move (indifferent or dismissive) depending on the tonality.

Examples of Different Types of Concessions

Submissive Concessions

Not to say submissive concessions are bad because they can be good at times.

When Tasked

Him: Please give me this by Wednesday.
You: I can do that.

When Being Judged

Him: I expect better from you.
You: Apologies, I will do better next time.

Applications

  • You hurt someone
  • You made a mistake
  • You are talking to your boss

Value-Adding Concessions

Your Friend Requests for Something

Friend: Could I ask for a favour and grant an exception this time?
You: Don't even mention it! It is easy on my side.

Win-Win Concession During Negotiation

You: It looks like point A is very important to you.
Point B is very important to us.
What do you think about giving us point B while we give you point A?

Applications

  • Helping a friend
  • Win-win negotiation
  • Collaborative relationships in general

Concession Power Moves

The following statements communicate personal agency.
It also frames the other party as needing your concession a little bit.
You also "lose" little from the concession.

Placating Power Move

Him: come over to the office
You: we can meet for lunch one of these days but I'm too busy now to come to the office

Emotional Concession Power Move

Him: I can pay right away at X rate
You: we can certainly talk about a new rate if we ever do new work together. For this work, the rate was set

Against Tasking

Him: Please give me this by Wednesday.
You: If I have the time, I'm happy to take a look and maybe help you.

Discussions

Him: I believe that this approach will be highly beneficial.
You: As you wish. It's not important to me.

I think you can even leave out "It's not important to me." with a dismissive tonality.

Applications

  • Handling power movers
  • Gaining the upper hand in negotiations
  • Working in competitive environments like office politics

What do you think?

Do you have any other thoughts on this area?

It's interesting because concessions or giving value in broader terms can come across as

  • Submissive - lack of power, making up the value difference, etc
  • Value-Adding - you benefit the other party in tangible ways while empowering or at least not disempowering the person
  • Power Move - you disempower the person. You can disempower while giving tangible value too.

depending on how you come across.


Side Note: What is the colour that we use for submissive behaviour?
Blue seems intuitive to me.

I am aware we use green for value-adding and empowering behaviour.
And yellow, orange and red for power moves and disempowering behaviour.

Lucio Buffalmano and ZenDancer have reacted to this post.
Lucio BuffalmanoZenDancer

Really interesting points here. One thing that I've been thinking about a lot, and which seems connected to this, is the question of how a genuinely empowered state of being manifests in day to day interactions... the point you make about how you deliver a concession is, I think, intimately enmeshed with how you experience the concession internally. By that I mean that if I'm feeling genuinely empowered and congruent in that state, helping or supporting someone else by giving a concession is not experienced as disempowering in any way... from a position of high power & high warmth, being collaborative and supportive feels natural and good...

Much depends, of course, on how the other person is seeking the concession...

Lucio Buffalmano has reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmano

Thank you for putting this together, Matthew.

I think these types of higher-level systems can be super useful to develop general systems and general frameworks.
Then one can also add examples and case studies to further clarify things -a much better approach than "only" examples-.

What I'd also be interested to see is the next step of when to go for each one, so that the higher-level can also help people strategize and act well.
For example, for tasking we have: tasking from a superior, do it. Tasking from an equal power protect or challenge it. Tasking from a subordinate, reject it. That's easier though.
Would be more challenging to come up with general approaches for concessions, but might be worth thinking it over (eventually).

ZenDancer has reacted to this post.
ZenDancer
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?
Quote from ZenDancer on January 7, 2022, 1:21 pm

Really interesting points here. One thing that I've been thinking about a lot, and which seems connected to this, is the question of how a genuinely empowered state of being manifests in day to day interactions... the point you make about how you deliver a concession is, I think, intimately enmeshed with how you experience the concession internally. By that I mean that if I'm feeling genuinely empowered and congruent in that state, helping or supporting someone else by giving a concession is not experienced as disempowering in any way... from a position of high power & high warmth, being collaborative and supportive feels natural and good...

Much depends, of course, on how the other person is seeking the concession...

That's a really great point.

What TPM generally move towards is an approach that is "superior" and "above" to the "little shit" the turkeys play -hence the "eagle"-.

You see the games, but you're not overly worried and bothered by all the games.
If anything, you're disappointed by the person who does it and you WILL intervene if it's truly disempowering you.

But otherwise, you go through life that all those games are like water off a duck's back.

Of course it might take some time to get there and going through a phase of "over-worrying" is OK -similar to "over-analyze phase"-.

But the ultimate goal is to look at it from the above.

I think this concept is so crucial and important that it deserves more space -maybe in the "Start Here" section-.

Edit:
"Start Here" section updated.

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

What I'd also be interested to see is the next step of when to go for each one, so that the higher-level can also help people strategize and act well.

Are you thinking of something different from what I listed as applications above?

Lucio Buffalmano and ZenDancer have reacted to this post.
Lucio BuffalmanoZenDancer
Quote from Matthew Whitewood on January 7, 2022, 5:01 pm

What I'd also be interested to see is the next step of when to go for each one, so that the higher-level can also help people strategize and act well.

Are you thinking of something different from what I listed as applications above?

Actually, I missed there was a "use case" for each section and with that, it looks even more awesome (my bad for skimming too quickly).

Thank you for the write-up and thank you x 2 for the wake up call.

I need to sit on this to see if it might be PU-material (it might be), plus maybe some more feedback from more users -albeit that's not always a good metric since new things tend time to process and people can easily miss how helpful they can be).

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

Thanks Lucio, we all miss things from time to time.

Something came to mind, and I'll quickly jot this down:

I'll leave this up to you.

This statement can also be

  • Submissive - You're the authority here. I'll follow your lead.
  • Value-adding - For this decision, it is more important for you to decide.
  • Power Move
    • It's a small matter that I'm unconcerned with.
    • I delegate this to you.
    • I don't care about this decision.

One can follow the use cases in the original post.

The power chart (traffic light) seems to communicate the general strategies of how to use these statements.
So I think it becomes more of defining the tactical level.

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