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Lucio's journal

Don't freaking pull a judge on me

This is a former classmate I never lost touch with.

She's OK, except for:

  1. Negative attitude sometimes
  2. Often dons that annoying "judge robe" when dealing with others

Put the two together, and last time she said "hi" she framed me as "optimist" and complimented me for it:

Her: always positive, bravo!

I don't like the "optimist" frame so much.

To me, it's more about "accept what you can't change, and move the fuck on with everything else".
And if you can put a smile on your face, all the better!

But I don't call it "optimist", to me it's the only life approach that makes sense.

Calling it "optimist" means that you could also do something else.
Something like... being a "realist" for example?

And that's the second issue with the "optimist" frames.
Optimists are less realistic, sometimes out of touch with reality, something I pride myself on not being.

Plus, of course, the judging line:

"Bravo".

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

Her: always positive, bravo!

I don't like the "optimist" frame so much.

I do find it very annoying when someone frames me in a certain way and, on top of it, "compliments" me for fitting into this frame.
And I realise some people intentionally frame a remark as a compliment so it's harder to rebut it.
It makes me feel like typing the middle finger emoji.

I have observed that some Machiavellian people use a lot of compliments.
It comes across as high power and warm.
But the game is to frame themselves as from a superior position.

There's the Bravo-type-of-compliment vibe:

Person A: I recently finished this project.

Person B:
(A) I really like this guy. He goes the extra mile.
(B) Great job! Let me know if you need any help
(C) Bravo! Looks like you are the type of person I can count on to finish a project.

Lucio Buffalmano has reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmano

Very insightful comment as usual, Matthew, thank you!

I think you're onto something here, two specific techniques that might need some fleshing out and even deserve a name:

  1. Frame / label someone a certain way, and then compliment them for fitting your frame: the compliment can serve to put a "seal", a stamp of approval on the frame / label and strengthen it
  2. Framing a remark as a compliment: it seems more "real", like it's a fact, and it deserves a compliment for it. Most importantly, rebuffing it is harder because you'd have to undo the compliment, which would break rapport and make you seem "ungrateful" or "angry without a reason". A type of covert power move. Yeah, I think it deserves its own name

 

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

Letting others keep the power & frame while maneuvering for what you want

Just ended a call with an embassy officer to enquire on travel restrictions.

Such a high-dominance lady, sometimes overstepping into too dominant and too low warmth.
Unluckily I needed her far more than she needed me, so this was one of those occasions when maneuvering without escalating was the way to go, even if might mean you remain the one down on power.

Some examples:

Her: You have to go on the embassy website and fulfill all the regulations. Have a nice day

20 seconds in, she was already hanging up on me.

Getting angry, going meta, or even being assertive with "wait a second, I feel like you're trying to hang up on me but I haven't finished asking what I need to ask" was too high risk that I wouldn't have gotten to ask the questions I wanted to ask.

If it were in person, it would have been different.
But on the phone, it's a risk of escalating and losing. I had already tried to call twice and it took almost 5 minutes of ringing for someone to pick up, didn't want to estrange the only person who probably works there.

Me: Yeah, wait, thanks for that, I still have a couple of questions

Ignores her rudeness, focuses on maintaining rapport and getting to what I wanted.

Some more:

Me: The visa is for 90 days, right?
Her: It's not a visa, it's a... (goes on to explain what it was, an unneded information that change nothing but that allowed her to play the teacher / authority)

On a personal conversation where I don't need anything from her, I might cut her short, or say or do something to frame her as splitting hair on definitions that do not really change the matter of what we're talking about.
But in this case, I confirm that "yes, she's right, and thanks for the info".

Later on:

Me: If I buy a ticket out of the country for, say, the 10th of February, do I need to leave the 10th of February or can I stay the full 90 days duration of the permit?
Her: If you buy a ticket out, you need to fly out, why would you not take the ticket?

She doesn't understand that some people buy a ticket out because it's a mandatory requirement, but it can be legal and OK not to take the ticket as long as you eventually do leave the country before the expiration of the visa.
But I cannot explain to her that: phones are not good for complex conversations.

So I give her an example:

Me: well, in some countries, you also need a ticket out before entering, but you can stay for the full duration of the permit if you change your mind for whatever reason

Her: If I were the border control officer, I would get suspicious. Why would you have a ticket if you don't want to take the flight?

Another useless comment, framing me like I was trying to break the law to stay there illegally.
I don't like it, in my mind I'm thinking "sure, like I wanna be an illegal alien in your dumbass country", but again, there is nothing to gain in escalating or fighting that frame.

And I won't be getting anywhere explaining my point, so I seek to confirm the information:

Me: Yeah, that makes sense. So you're saying that if I have an outbound ticket for, say, the 10th of February, then by law I must leave the 10th of February, is it like that?

Then I wanted to ask if a bus ticket was also OK:

Me: Is a bus ticket outside of the country also OK?
Her: No, if you fly by plane, you must leave by plane

It seems strange to me.
I don't wanna tell her "are you sure? that sounds strange", so I use this stratagem:

Me: Yeah? Because a friend of mine told me that it's OK to enter by plane but leave by bus
Her: Does your friend for the government?

LOL, what a bitch power move, she cornered me though, with that she's basically saying "shut up with the rumors, I'm the authority here".
But again, I don't want to escalate, so I give her the win.
My stance is "let her win, while I get the information I want":

Me: Ahahah yeah, no, he absolutely doesn't

I let her have the win there. With that path burned, I probe again from a different angle to get to the bottom of the question saying something like

Me: Because in some country, it's OK to exit by bus or by boat. As long as you prove an exit ticket, it doens't matter how

And she confirms that you need a plane ticket out, something I'm still not convinced of.

Now I also want some more "informal" information, something that these types of players rarely give. They like clinging to their "official" authority too much. But I try anyway:

Me: Look, this is a question to you, your opinion, outside of the laws and regulations. Some people are telling me not to travel because of the situation, and some others are telling me that as long as it's open and legal, why not. What do you think, are you seeing some tourists flying in these days?

I want to get a feel if traveling now is going to be branded as a "are you crazy, stay the fuck home", or if it's more normal than the official channels want people to know.
Why do I want to know that?
Because I think it makes a difference: if several people travel and they almost all go through border controls, it's less likely you'll have any troubles. But if it's branded as a "are you crazy", then you might face more hurdles.

Her reply is a philosophy lecture, not what I needed:

Her: If you stay home it's always safer, any time you do something some risks... Bla bla bla
Me: Yeah, you're right, that's a great point. Are you seeing some people who are traveling there right now?

Notice that I give value to her opinion before going back to some useful information: are people traveling there these days, or is it very uncommon?
I don't get a clear reply to that though, she goes back to official government statements.

THE LAST POWER MOVE

In the end, I ask her name before thanking her, as I usually do.

Giving the name out, in a way, is a form of executing my task, so I was curious to see what she'd say.
As expected, she didn't want to share her name.

Now I go on to use it against her and get my little win before hanging up:

Me: what was your name again?
Her: I never told you my name (very high power, but fair)
Me: right, and what's your name then?
Her: Is it important?
Me: Yeah (avoids backtracking), I usually like to thank the people who helped me by their name (= frames it as "you're being a cunt, while I wanted to be kind")
Her: I'm a government official, for security reasons we don't usually give our names
Me: Alright, I get it. Well, my name is Lucio, and I wanted to thank you, government official, for your help and support (notice the power move: I give my name, as to show I was giving trust while she wasn't, and then purposefully called her "government official", which is slightly demeaning and highlights the difference between me and her)
Her: (slightly and indirectly backtracks by giving a longer reply and thanking me)

Very interesting and instructive exchange, and a good learning opportunity.
I usually don't do too well with these types of personalities because they are very different from how I interact with people, and the opposite of the people I like to deal with.

These types of people usually don't respect warmth much, you need power.
On the other hand, too much power with no warmth might lead to an escalation where the conversation turns into a confrontation, and they just stop supporting you.
So you need to walk the line.

I did OK overall in getting what I wanted and needed, and wished I had recorded the convo for analyzing it again.
I didn't, but I'll call back again and hope she'll pick up the phone.

Ali Scarlett, Matthew Whitewood and John Freeman have reacted to this post.
Ali ScarlettMatthew WhitewoodJohn Freeman
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Good stuff. I deal with these people the same way.

I ask people’s name to thank them. It feels weird to me if they helped me and I feel gratitude and want to express it but does not know the person’s name.

I think the first step in getting better with people is liking people. People feel it.

Lucio Buffalmano has reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmano

Parents' judge role: rebelling, aggressing, & fixing it with vulnerable-assertiveness

The relationship with my parents is the relationship I was the worst at.

It's far from terrible, but it's far from great, too.
And albeit the "blame" can't be all on my side, I also think I haven't been handling at the best of my abilities.
And I haven't been putting into practice solid and tested social and power dynamics principles, some of which I also write about here.

There is a new concept though I haven't written about and that I think is crucial in many close relationship: assertive vulnerability.

What is it?
Read on.

But let's start from the latest episode:

STOP BEING A STALKER, DAD

This morning I had a call with my father, and it didn't go too well.

I am now in Costa Rica and hadn't told my parents.

Why not?
Because:

  1. I get more discouragement, rather than encouragement & support: my parents stress the risks and prefer me to stay home, rather than encouraging me to see and try new things. I don't like that, it disempowers me instead of supporting me in any way.
  2. My father over-invests & stalks: My father adds my time zone to his devices, plus the weather/temperature and news. That might OK per se. But what bothers me is that he keeps checking on them daily. To me, it feels low-value vicarious living, and it feels like suffocating stalker behavior. It's too much, I don't want to be his center of the world.
    That's also part of a larger pattern of (light) stalking behavior: my father scours my Facebook for new and old pictures alike, as well as having sent friendship requests to some of my friends whom he didn't personally know (in the past, that included a girl I was seeing and you can imagine how much that annoyed me, since being connected with your father also affects your relationship with the woman).
    Last but not least, I feel I can't share about my life because he brags about it to others. Another low-value behavior which, as well, bothers me.

There is a major element of judge dynamics in the first point.
I couldn't care less what a stranger thinks or say about what I do. But my parents... They matter.

So when I know they're gonna judge negatively, I resent it.
And I might either cut communication, or speak too aggressively (lose-lose).
Albeit apparently high-power, those are actually low-power behavior of the individual who feels judged.

This time, I cut communication by not communicating my move, and acted aggressively on that last call.

My father told me not to use the word "stalker", and I repeated that it was the correct word, as his behavior felt stalkative.

After the call, I felt guilty.

JUDGE CAN GO BOTH WAYS

Albeit I can feel judged, I know my father feels the same.

Given my history and my family background, I have quite some "power".
So he cares about what I think.

That's something that for a long time I failed to realize.
Me criticizing him, it hurts him.
So now I had to make amends.

SHORT-TERM FIX: VULNERABILITY

I called my father back to put the "stalker" in perspective.

I didn't renege on my father's behavior that I found annoying and "stalkative", but put in perspective of him having been a great father and a great role model for all of us -also true-.

Making that call was emotionally difficult, since I rarely if ever opened up on the emotional dynamics of the family.
But I had to do it, and went ahead.

That fixed the previous flare up, improved the relationship, and also made me feel a lot better.

LONG-TERM FIX: VULNERABLE ASSERTIVENESS

The second step which I did too little of in the past is in being "vulnerably assertive".

Assertive means that you speak your mind, your truths, your needs, your wants.
The vulnerable part, which is where I failed the most, is in admitting that what our parents think and say of us does matter to us.

So a vulnerably-assertive sentence might go like this:

Dad, you're my father, and what you say and think matters to me.
When you say "where are you going, it's too risky, just stay home", it clips my wings and it makes me feel bad about wanting to go somewhere. But that's what I want to do, I want to go.
And I would prefer if my own parents supported me and encouraged me, rather than discouraging me.

Instead of denying their judge power, this communication admits that what your parents think and say is important.

Now a bit of a power move:

Why don't you tell me to go instead, to explore and grow, and that you're happy if I'm happy?
Why not being happy if I want to do what makes me happy?

That line above indirectly says that they're not being "good" and supportive parents by discouraging, rather than encouraging.
It empowers your message and request, and makes it clearer at a deeper, stronger emotional level.
And increases the odds they turn supportive, rather than negative.

It's still possible your parents might never turn into supportive parents.
That's unlucky, but at that point, you've done all you could have.

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

Thanks for sharing this, Lucio.
I have to admit that my relationship with my parents is less than ideal as well.
Which, in large part, is because I resent their judgement as well.

They are not supportive of my major things in life and why I see them to be important.
Like travelling, entrepreneurship, freedom, etc.

There were not emotionally present in the challenging moments as well.
As such, the passing of a close friend and certain health issues.

What I thought was that the purpose of gaining more personal power is about the power to not be dependent on the family that I grew up in.
I wanted to gain financial freedom so that I never had to talk to my family again.
On retrospect, gaining financial freedom may seem on the surface harder than resolving these family issues.
Now, when you share, it may actually be the harder of the 2 actions to take.

I'm thinking that I could do all of the above to improve the relationship.
At the same time, I'm not sure if it is worth the time and emotional commitment.
It may improve to the point of "okay, I see why this is important".
But it may never reach the level of understanding and shared values that I have with some other individuals.

So I always think about "why should I improve my relationship with my parents?".
I feel that, on some level, I am forcing a relationship because values and priorities are different.

That being said, I do think that going through this endeavour can be a source of personal empowerment and development as well.

 

Great message, Matthew, very deep level of introspection and understanding.

Quote from Matthew Whitewood on February 4, 2021, 12:34 am

There were not emotionally present in the challenging moments as well.

(...)

What I thought was that the purpose of gaining more personal power is about the power to not be dependent on the family that I grew up in.
I wanted to gain financial freedom so that I never had to talk to my family again.
On retrospect, gaining financial freedom may seem on the surface harder than resolving these family issues.
Now, when you share, it may actually be the harder of the 2 actions to take.

But it may never reach the level of understanding and shared values that I have with some other individuals.

So I always think about "why should I improve my relationship with my parents?".
I feel that, on some level, I am forcing a relationship because values and priorities are different.

Yes, many parents believe their task is primarily financial, to support the children, send them to school, and that's what makes them good parents.

You are right, the relationship might never reach the level of understanding you have with some other people.
But on the other hand, asking that your relationship with your parents be better than any other relationship might be unrealistic, if not simply from a mathematical point of view: you meet so many people in your life, that your parents vibing more with you than any single one of the thousands of people you meet is unlikely.

Personally, I think there are plenty of situations in which cutting contact or putting no more effort into a parental relationship make sense.
But in more common situation of "average parenthood", I think that putting in the effort is worth it. Even from a selfish point of view: the impact of the parents on the children's lives is a major one, so it's also good for you.

Perfect might not be achievable, but "better" is probably doable, and that's already a big step forward.

Matthew Whitewood has reacted to this post.
Matthew Whitewood
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?
Below, I'm making sometimes assumptions on your father's character. I never met him so I'm basing on my own life experience to have an idea of his character. Please excuse me if I'm making wrong assumptions. This would be out of ignorance, despite all my respect for you both. I'm doing my best to be a friend here. I could be wrong below, though.
Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on January 29, 2021, 6:20 pm

Parents' judge role: rebelling, aggressing, & fixing it with vulnerable-assertiveness

The relationship with my parents is the relationship I was the worst at.

I think for many of us it is the most challenging relationship for good reasons. Parents give us life. So it is very difficult to find the right distance with them when they themselves have not the appropriate psychological and emotional maturity to deal with this bond.

It's far from terrible, but it's far from great, too.
And albeit the "blame" can't be all on my side, I also think I haven't been handling at the best of my abilities.
And I haven't been putting into practice solid and tested social and power dynamics principles, some of which I also write about here.

Yes, we can indeed improve any relationship if we put work in it. It can also be taking some distance to improve the relationship.

STOP BEING A STALKER, DAD

This morning I had a call with my father, and it didn't go too well.

I am now in Costa Rica and hadn't told my parents.

Why not?
Because:

  1. I get more discouragement, rather than encouragement & support: my parents stress the risks and prefer me to stay home, rather than encouraging me to see and try new things. I don't like that, it disempowers me instead of supporting me in any way.
  2. My father over-invests & stalks: My father adds my time zone to his devices, plus the weather/temperature and news. That might OK per se. But what bothers me is that he keeps checking on them daily. To me, it feels low-value vicarious living, and it feels like suffocating stalker behavior. It's too much, I don't want to be his center of the world.
    That's also part of a larger pattern of (light) stalking behavior: my father scours my Facebook for new and old pictures alike, as well as having sent friendship requests to some of my friends whom he didn't personally know (in the past, that included a girl I was seeing and you can imagine how much that annoyed me, since being connected with your father also affects your relationship with the woman).
    Last but not least, I feel I can't share about my life because he brags about it to others. Another low-value behavior which, as well, bothers me.

That is the kind of psychological and emotional maturity I was talking about above. Sometimes our parents don't have the "equipment" to be a good parent. It's very challenging to be a good parent. But it starts with love. I know you read about transactional analysis. In this, he talks about how the smothering parent is the dark side of the nurturing parent (could not find a solid online reference, but you have the book). So, the parent must be able to be themselves emotionnally independent. Otherwise, they will tend to "feed themselves off the child" (emotional life, etc.). They will take instead of give. Out of respect for you and your father, I don't want to stick labels here. However, smart as you are, I'm sure you already figured out his character. That is why love is not just kisses and hugs. Love is a challenging thing to do. To love someone, one must have the ability to love and this means to consider the other as a full entity such as oneself. If this ability is not present or has not been developed, then there is only a half-love. The person is considered an "object" instead of a subject. That will also condition your psychology, of course. This would certainly push you towards an avoidant attachment style as you try to gain your autonomy. It will affect your whole adult life.

In short, we do not choose our parents. However, we must love ourselves despite our parents' flaws. If our parents harm us it's our duty to protect ourselves from this harm. It's our responsibility to ourselves.

There is a major element of judge dynamics in the first point.
I couldn't care less what a stranger thinks or say about what I do. But my parents... They matter.

So when I know they're gonna judge negatively, I resent it.
And I might either cut communication, or speak too aggressively (lose-lose).
Albeit apparently high-power, those are actually low-power behavior of the individual who feels judged.

This time, I cut communication by not communicating my move, and acted aggressively on that last call.

My father told me not to use the word "stalker", and I repeated that it was the correct word, as his behavior felt stalkative.

After the call, I felt guilty.

I think you got manipulated by your father. It's sad to me. As it is so much difficult to see through our parents' manipulative actions. I think the mistake you did is that his manipulative ways triggered your anger. Then you used an identity word "stalker" where a criticism of the behavior "stalking" would have been more productive. In this case your father was right. However, he pushed your buttons. This leads me to detachment. I think when we're going to deal with people that we know are going to try to push our buttons, it is of the utmost importance to prepare ourselves mentally. The goal of all these encounters is self-defense. If you cannot have a loving relationship with your father as you wished you have (and deserve), at least it would be great if it would not be harmful for you.

In my case, I had to take distance from harmful family members. It was and still is difficult and sometimes I almost feel guilty, then I remember that it is supposed to be a loving relationship. If there is not this love, then it makes sense to protect ourselves.

JUDGE CAN GO BOTH WAYS

Albeit I can feel judged, I know my father feels the same.

Given my history and my family background, I have quite some "power".
So he cares about what I think.

That's something that for a long time I failed to realize.
Me criticizing him, it hurts him.
So now I had to make amends.

I think that is the loop you are both trapped in. He oversteps your boundaries -> it pushes you away (normal behavior) and angers you (norma emotions) -> you react with anger -> you apologize -> he oversteps your boundaries -> ...

SHORT-TERM FIX: VULNERABILITY

I called my father back to put the "stalker" in perspective.

I didn't renege on my father's behavior that I found annoying and "stalkative", but put in perspective of him having been a great father and a great role model for all of us -also true-.

Making that call was emotionally difficult, since I rarely if ever opened up on the emotional dynamics of the family.
But I had to do it, and went ahead.

That fixed the previous flare up, improved the relationship, and also made me feel a lot better.

That takes a lot of strength, congratulations.

LONG-TERM FIX: VULNERABLE ASSERTIVENESS

The second step which I did too little of in the past is in being "vulnerably assertive".

Assertive means that you speak your mind, your truths, your needs, your wants.
The vulnerable part, which is where I failed the most, is in admitting that what our parents think and say of us does matter to us.

So a vulnerably-assertive sentence might go like this:

Dad, you're my father, and what you say and think matters to me.
When you say "where are you going, it's too risky, just stay home", it clips my wings and it makes me feel bad about wanting to go somewhere. But that's what I want to do, I want to go.
And I would prefer if my own parents supported me and encouraged me, rather than discouraging me.

Instead of denying their judge power, this communication admits that what your parents think and say is important.

That is important. To be strong, is to recognize our weaknesses. And our needs in a way, are weaknesses, since we depend on other people to fulfill them.

Now a bit of a power move:

Why don't you tell me to go instead, to explore and grow, and that you're happy if I'm happy?
Why not being happy if I want to do what makes me happy?

That line above indirectly says that they're not being "good" and supportive parents by discouraging, rather than encouraging.
It empowers your message and request, and makes it clearer at a deeper, stronger emotional level.
And increases the odds they turn supportive, rather than negative.

It's still possible your parents might never turn into supportive parents.
That's unlucky, but at that point, you've done all you could have.

Lucio, thank you for sharing this with us. I think this is so important in one's development throughout our own life.

I think that you did everything you could do, including guiding your parent to be a better parent. However, some people are unable to be better parents. Their own limitations prevents them from being good parents. If your father has not been able to have this emotional maturity until your current adult stage, I'm sad to tell you but I think it will never happen.

In this case, it's better to accept that our parent have their limitations and that unfortunately our emotional needs cannot be met by this person. This will help you release the pressure on them to be a better parent, which is also a source of anger: "Be a better parent" -> Parent fails to be a better parent -> BE A BETTER PARENT -> Parent fails to be a better parent -> cycle goes on...

Some people do not have themselves the emotional or psychological maturity to play the role children need for their emotional growth and health. That is unfortunate and sad, but that is the truth.

Going back to you, I think the only way through this is self-development. This helps us to recognize our needs and find people who will help us to fulfill them. People who will be able to give us what we need to feel loved. This is most of the time a significant other. But it can be anyone. What matters is not to look for things from people who are unable to give it to us. Or we will be trapped in a cycle.

Once again, I think understanding our relationship to our parents is one of the if not THE most important step in self-development. I want to honor you for taking this as seriously as it deserves.

Have you ever considered therapy? Regarding this topic, this is what helped me the most. Along with books and life experience, but therapy was the most helpful, by far.

Lucio Buffalmano has reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmano

Really, really good message John, thanks.

Talking about parents, people might feel like they're "weird" or "strange exceptions" when it comes to poor parenting who affected them.
But when you get to know people well, you realize that it might actually be a silent majority.

I think the message above might have framed my father worse than he actually is.
He only did those privacy-annoying moves since he's retired, older, and got a lot of time on his hands. Nothing similar ever happened when I was growing up, when he was working on his business, or when he was doing more photography.

Still, a lot of deep and valid points in your message.

PARENTS & US: IT'S A MIX

I personally think that my avoidant attachment style is because of my mom, more than my dad, and because of me.

That second part one should always remember: I am close to Albert Ellis in believing that the past and the parents have been long overblown by psychoanalysis.

Ellis for example asked a lot of his patients who were blaming their parents for some specific issues of theirs how their brother and sister turned out. A good chunk of the time, their kins either had different issues, or no issues.

That rang a big bell for me because it was the exact same for me: my brother is so different, and certainly not an avoidant, and he probably had a worse mother than I did (younger and less experienced), and a worse father (younger and sometimes away from home).

THERAPY

I did consider therapy, and even signed up to "Better Help" once, but didn't go through it.
For a period, I even contemplated whether I should have addressed my mother about what I thought were her mistakes (what do you think about that, by the way?).
But even that, never done it.

I guess it's also a matter of "how much does it bother you".
And since it was more of a nagging thing, rather than an open wound, I never went through.

Still didn't completely abandon the idea though.

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?