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Is "Excuse Me" Good for Drawing Boundaries When Caught Off-Guard? A Surfacing Or Giving Rope Technique?

Lucio uses the "excuse me" technique over here when drawing boundaries with a woman.
I am thinking that "excuse me" is a good technique to draw someone out further.
It is like surfacing and giving rope.

At the same time, we talked about how showing politeness and caring for social etiquette demonstrate high-value.
It goes higher.
"Excuse me" is polite.
It gives the attacker a chance to backtrack.

In this example, if the girl backtracks, it is also a good sign that she will backtrack if she oversteps your boundaries.
You will not need to enforce your boundary repeatedly using frame dominance and assertiveness.
I imagine a potential conversation to go like

Her: Oh, you're such a slut.

Him: Excuse me.

Her: I was out of line. I take back what I said and apologise.

This is a good sign that she will not go further in an escalation when you enforce your boundaries subtly.

Sam uses this in Margin Call:

Sam: Cause no one wants to f**king buy them

Jared: F**k you Sam, will you give me a f**king break?

Sam: Excuse me Jared, ...

Sarah: (interrupts; executive-like; exerts frame to bring the conversation back to a productive discussion; but tone sounds a bit too annoyed)

I'm not sure if this is a good example because Sam was being condescending and started the escalation first.

APPLICATIONS

I realise that it can be difficult to draw a line in the sand when you are caught off-guard.
I am thinking if "excuse me" can be a good phrase to use alongside with

  • That's not a nice thing to say
  • I am not comfortable with your tone and words
  • That's rude
  • (Shaking your head)

Hey Matthew,

That's not the best example of tonality.

The tonality is more like:

Excuse me (what the fuck did you just say?)

It's more like a mix of surprise, with "that's not cool" and "please explain or apologize".

There are two tonalities that better apply in that video, one of them being this:

Sam: What does it mean we don't have a choice. Fuck you, you don't have a choice
Jared: Fuck me?

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Matthew Whitewood
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

And to answer your question, yes, it's a great technique that can be used in several occasions.

Like John said in another thread, most people know when they're being out of line, so they know what you mean with "excuse me".
It's also a great way to thread-expand with little investment, especially useful when you want to use that occasion to draw your boundaries, surface it, and then go assertive.

There was another instance in PU where it's used as an example, I think, going something like this:

Her: If that happens, I will get so angry and I will hit you
Him: excuse me?

Since she's threatening, and introducing a topic that should be off-limits in even a moderately good relationship, that needs to be thread-expanded and dealt with.
And the excuse me is the perfect launching pad for that.

Plus, it passes the ball to the receiver to make their move, which will tell you a lot about them.

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Matthew WhitewoodJohn Freeman
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Thanks for sharing more about this technique.
The advice on tones is very helpful.
I seldom use this technique so don't have much intuition about this.

Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on February 15, 2021, 3:12 am

Sam: What does it mean we don't have a choice. Fuck you, you don't have a choice
Jared: Fuck me?

The tone here is brilliant.
It puts the frame that Jared knows what's going on in that situation.

Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on February 15, 2021, 3:12 am

Since she's threatening, and introducing a topic that should be off-limits in even a moderately good relationship, that needs to be thread-expanded and dealt with.
And the excuse me is the perfect launching pad for that.

This is a very important point.
You should not assume that, in moderately good relationships, people will never abuse their power or intimacy.
In fact, it may even happen more often because manipulation and collaboration go hand-in-hand.
As in Mike Tyson's video, trust is good but not trusting is better.
Always good to remember that collaboration is out of self-interest first.

Very often, I get caught off-guard because I lower my guard too much with people I'm closer towards.
If you know this person occasionally throws power moves while the relationship is moderately good,
it is best to be aware of the power dynamics during the interaction.

Potential Spin-Off Threads

This makes me think of other possible threads:

  • The mindset of people who knowingly step over people's boundaries.
    I suppose the primary objective is to get their way and to gain power over you.
  • When to thread-expand and when to not thread-expand?
    I think it all depends on whether it is advantageous for you to thread-expand.
    If you can frame the other person as aggressive by thread-expanding, it is a good idea.
    If you potentially highlight negative aspects of yourself, maybe you should think twice before thread-expanding.
  • When should you pass the ball to the receiver?
    VS
    When you should take control of the frame and move on from the attack?
  • Vocal tonalities when dealing with attacks
    • Serious, firm tones
    • Surprised tone with disdain
    • A pure shocked tone like John's vulnerable counter with "I'm shocked"
    • Sarcasm
    • Mocking tone as a counterattack
  • Also, on this note, thinking about resources to learn more about tonalities.
    I think that most of us have an intuition about what a tone conveys.
    Nevertheless, it's always good to have a framework + intuition.

Yeah, exactly, the tone should be the type of tone that stops the conversation.

I was looking for a meme of "excuse me" -from a cat, nothing less- that a girl one sent me and it showed a perfect facial expression for a more feminine nonverbal "excuse me" response, I'll post it here whenever I stumble on it again.

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

An example of how to use "excuse me":

Marshal: I call slut
Robin: Excuse me?

She could have gone even harder on it actually, but it's going in the right direction

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Matthew Whitewood
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Thanks Lucio, this solidified the best tone to use when using excuse me to point out inappropriate behaviour or remarks.

Always Ensure to Follow Up with Assertive Statements After Drawing the Opponent Out

After excuse me, she should have followed up with strong, assertive statements instead of defending herself like in your example.

Marshal: I call slut
Robin: Excuse me?
Marshal: I'm sorry Robin, but you hooking up with this guy makes it seem like the only thing standing in between you and sex is clothes.
Robin: Look Marshal, you are free to think whatever you want.
But don't ever call me "slut" again -or any other offensive names for that matter-

Putting Lucio's text example here for reference:

Putting the 2 Videos Side by Side for Reference

Quoting the times straight at the said phrase to focus on tonality:

Jared Using Excuse Me Against Sam in Corporate Decision Making

Robin Using Excuse Me Against Marshal's Slut-Shaming

Jared's tone sounds much higher power compared to Robin.
His delivery comes across as calm and collected as well.

It's more like a mix of surprise, with "that's not cool" and "please explain or apologize".

Jared found the right balance between the surprise tonality, "that's not cool" and "please explain or apologize".
More towards the "that's not cool".

The tone inflects downwards on "fuck" to convey "that's not cool" and inflects upwards on "me" to convey "please explain or apologize".
Less surprise in the tonality.

Jared: fuck (down) me (up)?

Because of the camera angles, he seemed to face and look at Sam fully as well.
That's why the delivery comes across as very high power.

Compare this to Robin whose tone inflects upwards on both "excuse" and also on "me".

Robin: excuse (up) me (up)?

This goes more towards the surprise tonality and "please explain or apologize".

Adding a touch more assertiveness by inflecting "excuse" downwards could work.

Thread-Expand/Surfacing with Words and Asserting via Tone

I think Jared's tone is great because it achieves 2 objectives:

  • Draws the attacker out with minimal investment
  • Shows the attacker assertiveness, and you will fight back if he goes further

Most attackers will backtrack because they know they will probably lose the escalation.

Jared took back control of the discussion after that statement.
Sam stopped talking.
Though he is highest in the hierarchy in that situation so that helps a bit too.

Surprise Portion of the Tonality

I think the surprise portion should convey that you find his remark "surprising" rather than you are caught "surprised".
That's where mixing in some emphasis and downward inflections could help.
Robin comes across as being caught off-guard while Jared did not.

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Lucio Buffalmano