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Lucio's journal

Power-aligning with the reprimander to defend power

Yesterday it was really an awesome day.

I'm in Italy and I met with my old local friends dating back to middle school and teenage years.

We went karting first and then to some beautiful local eatery with the most amazing "arrosticini" I had in years.

Well, anyway, as the last karting video shows, I didn't hold back.
I was looking forward to it because one of my friends, Marco, is both aggressive and technically good.

Before starting the second round the track owner warned me to take it easier because I was a bit too aggressive in the first round.

I said "OK".

The Karting Race: I didn't take it easy as the owner wanted (You Can Skip)

It was a lot of people on the track, including slower drivers and a few fast ones.

Particuarly, one with a red T-shirt was good and had done the fastest lap time until then.

He was bragging on the trackside and hence he had become the "man to beat" for both me and Marco (plus, of course, the untold challenge that we were each other's men to beat 🙂.

I started next to last, which meant that not to waste time, I had to pass the slower ones quickly, without wasting time.

Then, it was just about focusing and hoping I could catch up.

It seemed like a scene from a movie: on the penultimate lap I passed (lapped) my other friend and did one of the best overtakes on the U-curve.
Then, on the very last lap, I reached the faster guys. Plus, they were contending with some of the slower ones. So it was a big pack of cars. And a huge opportunity: if I could maneuver to pass the slower ones better or more quickly, I could take a shortcut to the first spot.

The red shirt was in there so, well... I saw red :).

I thought that I had only one chance at winning: start attacking from the very first moment I reached the back of the pack.
I wish I had the footage, but to make a long story short, I threw myself in the middle of the pack on the main straight, zig-zagging from middle to the right to pass as many as possible while positioning myself well for the next curve.

After a couple of curves, I was right behind the red shirt and one of his friends.
I passed the friend, then passed the red shirt but overdid it and went wide (a common mistake when the "fog of racing" makes you see red).
The red shirt passed me again, and the friend was right alongside me.

I held onto the second position though and to make a long story short, I managed to pass the red shirt again before the U-curve that leads back onto the straight.
I was so adamant to hold onto the first position that I arrived at the chequered flag and pit entrance a bit too fast, hands in the air to celebrate.

Add everything together, and I knew that the track owner was going to be angry and probably publicly scold me.

And indeed...

Power-aligning with the reprimander: tell him he's right

Owner: young man (I guess I look younger than my actual age, specially when clean shaven), easy, take it easy
Me: you're right, you're right
Owner: (can't remember the exact words, but complaining I was carrying too much speed at the end)
Me: yeah, yeah, you're right, you're right

This is a good technique.
It placates the owner, you decrease the odds he might ban you from driving again, and you reasonably defend your power by aligning with him.

Then though he goes a bit too far:

Owner: (scolding tone, speaking loudly, but not addressing me directly anymore as I was walking out) it's not like you won anything

That was a bad frame.

It frames me as a juvenile idiot who puts his property -and maybe others- at risk for... Absolutely nothing.
Which, well... In a way, it's true :).
But, in another way, also not true.
You go on track to go fast, and challenge yourself with others. And the joy of winning is a hell of a good reason to go for it, so... It was a bad frame and quite power-taking.
So:

Passive-aggression to one-up back and re-empower

Owner: it's not like you won anything
Me
: (walking away, smiling, not as loud as him not to turn it into a challenge to his control over the track, but normal speaking voice for people to hear) no, I won the race

This is one of the (few) use cases for passive-aggression, such as when using passive aggression works better than anything else -including assertiveness or ignoring-.
I didn't say it to his face and it wasn't assertive.
But it effectively defended my power and status with the crowd.

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Ali ScarlettMatthew Whitewood
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It's weird of the owner to be so conservative.
I had the impression that owners of karting tracks would be more daredevil and adventurous.

I also think a large part of the pleasure of carting is the thrill of winning and narrow wins.

Maybe he had bad experiences of people crashing his cars, and he needed to repair them.

The philosopher's frame came to mind too:

Owner: It's not like you won anything

You: Yes we all die in the end

Something to hint that owning the race track and winning car races are part and parcel of enjoying life by winning and gaining status.

Yeah, he was a character.

Not necessarily in a positive way, the type who is always too ready to get angry.

The owner of a track, where people go to learn driving and/or to go fast in a safe environment, getting angry at people doing exactly that :).
But we took it positively and it made us laugh a lot.

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Growfast
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The daily manipulation (social scalping)

I'm waiting for two pieces of custom-made stuff to arrive, and it's being delayed.

The store owner said to me more than once a version of:

Social scalper: I'll make them arrive together so I spare you having to make two trips and you can do all at once

Yeah, cool, but as far as he knows, I might OK with two trips (and indeed I am).
On the other hand, it's most likely more convenient and cheaper for him to have one single shipment.
So the fact that he hides his WIIFM and frames it as if it were all done "just for me" feels slightly manipulative.

So far, we're still in the yellow area.
But this one was a bit more annoying:

Social scalper: Let's do that I let you know when they're here otherwise you'd waste a trip and I'd rather spare you a wasted trip

Never did I say that I was going there in person just to check.
The whole reason why I am in contact with him via phone is that I can go there when the stuff is ready, so that I don't have to show up in person to check.
Unneeded credit inflating.
This guy is losing some points with these games.

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Ali ScarlettGrowfast
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One thing that I have yet to figure out is when it's

  • Manipulative to frame something as more in the person's shoes
  • Value-adding because you are doing your best to take into account

My General Thoughts

It's about the general intention and whether the framing is really about the true WIIFM of the other person.

In the above example, the owner probably thought of a "convenient" WIIFM to gain social credit that the other (Lucio) doesn't even really need.

A more balanced approach would be

Owner: I plan to deliver both packages to you at the same time.
That could save you one additional trip.
Let me know if that would be better for you.

This would fall more under the fair persuasion bracket.
Because the owner didn't force the WIIFM.

So whenever the WIIFM feels

  • Forced and guessed
  • Not really beneficial to you
  • Sneaky in the sense, he's hiding information from you and what he gains

that leans more towards social credit manipulation.

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Growfast

Everytime someone tries to persuade me and tells me of all the advantages whatever they are doing has for me, I make sure to ask them this.

Me : I like people who are honest and fair, so tell me this what is in it for you?

If they still paint 'what's in it for them' as 'what's in it for me' then I get red flags that the person might be a social scalper because as I have seen most people have an idea that to persuade someone they need to show the value whatever they do has for the other person and many are not conscious that being upfront about what value it(whatever they are proposing) brings to them makes them look more trustworthy.

Lucio Buffalmano has reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmano
Quote from Growfast on September 30, 2021, 2:34 pm

Everytime someone tries to persuade me and tells me of all the advantages whatever they are doing has for me, I make sure to ask them this.

Me : I like people who are honest and fair, so tell me this what is in it for you?

If they still paint 'what's in it for them' as 'what's in it for me' then I get red flags that the person might be a social scalper because as I have seen most people have an idea that to persuade someone they need to show the value whatever they do has for the other person and many are not conscious that being upfront about what value it(whatever they are proposing) brings to them makes them look more trustworthy.

That works well as a form of "frame shocking".

It can work great to shame people into changing approach and being upfront.

It's great with people who are very close and then you lead and guide them to be more eagle-like.
And it's also good whenever you're deep in business talk or negotiation, or when discussing bigger ticket items where you're more concerned about results than relationships.

But when relationships matter and people are not that close, then it ends up being a huge rapport breaker because it implies that they were not being honest and fair, and that's a heavy accusation to move.
In those cases, more tact and smoothness works better.

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Transitioned
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Saving people's faces by sharing other people's "vulnerabilities"

My neighbor walked into the kitchen this morning.

She wasn't feeling well and my mother was taking her to a hospital check-up (the good thing of living in rural areas: people know and help each other).

I sometimes have the good sense of wearing shorts/trunks rather than just underwear, but not today.
I wasn't particularly ashamed, but also not super comfortable and did what I was supposed to do: I apologized for my (lack of) clothing, stood up, and announced I was going to put something on.

She couldn't have shared her vulnerabilities in this case as that would have been weird (a woman saying she does the same would be "strange" and socially uncalibrated).
So what she did instead:

Neigbor: Oh please, Pierluigi (her son) is always like that in the house. And Lino (her husband, now doubling down on face-saving examples) when coming back from the garage he always asks if there's anyone there and then walks in underwear. And you've seen Lino (smiling, making a joke about her husband's extra kilos), but you're in such great shape. And great to see you, how are you

  1. Shared vulnerabilities to "normalize" the situation
  2. Pulled me up with a compliment
  3. Thread-cut the potentially embarrassing thread, and moved to normal conversation

Then I still left the kitchen of course, I still had to do my part and let her and my mom have a more private conversation without me standing there in underwear.

But what a star she was.

She used to run a successful bar, and I'm sure that it was successful in good part thanks to her and her social skills -and power awareness, to boot-.

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Matthew Whitewood
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I had a similar awkward situation but definitely not as smooth as how your neighbour handled the situation!

Incredible since she was unwell.

I am usually less sharp when I'm unwell.

I think these situations happen to the best of us.

Yes, exactly, that ability to switch from "I'm unwell" self-focus to "effectively social" was impressive.

But probably this lady is at a stage of "unconscious" competence and it's just who she is and automatically does now.
I remember watching her as a kid both at my place and at the bar and think "wow, she's so good".

If I see a few more similar examples it might be generalized to an approach:

  1. Frame it as "normal" with examples / put things in perspective
  2. Pull the person up
  3. Move  on / change topic
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Matthew Whitewood
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