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Intentional forgetting, delaying and faking not receiving e-mails and phone calls; "I'm sorry" power move

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Nice Bel!

And:

Quote from Bel on November 16, 2021, 3:30 pm

Even if she does not reply, as Lucio suggests my future escalation will be perceived as more reasonable.

Exactly.

Going from highly amenable to maximum escalation makes people look out of control, and lacking calibration and assertiveness.

Plus, with this option, you take away her option to go around saying "we were all good, and then suddenly, he does this crazy thing".
Or, if she does, reality would at least be on your side to prove her wrong.

P.S.:
Her reply is yet another power move, but now it doesn't matter much anymore, you'll soon be out of her toxic games.

P.P.S.:
I might move this in the "work" sub-category (and I'm thinking of making that category more prominent).

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Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on November 17, 2021, 1:53 am

P.S.:
Her reply is yet another power move, but now it doesn't matter much anymore, you'll soon be out of her toxic games.

Here her reply:

"I hope everything is well with you. Sure, I tried to contact you more than once to ask you if we could see each other. But you should address the invoice to the colleague that must pay it, while you addressed it to me. I will obtain his contacts and send them to you".

She is faking empathy ("I hope everything is well with you"). She tries to pin the blame on my non-response to her calls ("Sure, I tried to contact you more than once to ask you if we could see each other").

Then she shifts responsibility for non-payment from herself to her colleague, and procrastinates some more ("I will obtain his contacts and send them to you"). This is especially significant as I know her "colleague" is her fiancé (she intentionally omitted this to me, but I recently found out with a Google search), and thus she probably already has his contacts!

Finally, she conveniently forgets that she could have provided me with this information and with her colleague's contacts in e-mail, without waiting for my message.

However: under the relevant bar's codes of conduct, she - as the lawyer who directly tasked me with the work - is jointly liable to pay in case her colleague does not. I know this, she knows this: she is ultimately justifying herself. And she acknowledges I must be paid. So I think no response is necessary from my side for now, as I always have the option of escalating on her in the near future.

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Lucio Buffalmano

Yeah, seems like her typical game-playing approach.

The game that you're asking the wrong person is the most annoying one.

You can wait a week or so and then remind her again of the bill and to CC the "right" contact".
At a second reminder, you might tell her that you worked with her, so you'd expect her to take more ownership and action on the payment.
At the third time, you might say that you did the work, a good work, and that you'd rather not chase your due payment.

After that, you can start thinking of heavier "do it, or... ".

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Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on November 17, 2021, 1:41 pm

You can wait a week or so and then remind her again of the bill and to CC the "right" contact".
At a second reminder, you might tell her that you worked with her, so you'd expect her to take more ownership and action on the payment.
At the third time, you might say that you did the work, a good work, and that you'd rather not chase your due payment.

After that, you can start thinking of heavier "do it, or... ".

Thank you Lucio, this is really helpful and allows me to see the mistakes I did in similar situations in the past.

To try to systematize your guidelines:

1. As soon as you recognize that someone tried to take advantage of you, you take advantage of any contact initiated from the taker to push him/her to honor commitments

This should be done by implying that you will do the additional thing he/she is asking for, even if you can't do so right now, BUT you first need him/her to honor his past promise/payment/commitment etc.

Example: if the taker contacts you to meet/as for more work/etc., you say "Sure, can't right now but we will talk soon; in the meantime could you please pay me/do the thing you promised/honor your commitment".

It is irrelevant whether you intend to actually do the things he is asking for, since he was the one who started defecting from a sincere cooperation in the first place. Plus, by implying you will do what he asks while simultaneously not wanting to hear the details of his request, you reserve the right to form your opinion later, so you are not even really leading him on.

2. When possible, it is always preferable to escalate pressure/rebalance the relationship progressively instead of interrupting contact abruptly and formally declaring war

This way you maintain the relationship formally open, appear more reasonable, negate the frame he/she may adopt about you being "crazy", avoid making a formal enemy out of him/her, depotentiate the smear campaign he/she may start, etc.

3. Each step of the escalation, you should start adopting a progressively stronger judge frame about the behavior of the taker, but in an implied and not explicit way.

So, with your second request, you can add that since he/she was the one to ask you for a favor/to do work/etc., you now expect a proactive stance/more ownership on his/her part to honor his/her end of the deal.

With this, you are implying that he/she is not doing what he should, that he/she is not honoring commitments, etc.

At the sime time, you are protecting your judge frame from criticism, since you are only implying the judgment and moreover you are framing it in a positive and not negative way: i.e., you are indicating the correct path to be followed, NOT explicitly saying he/she is not following it.

4. Your last request before declaring formal war should imply that the other party is putting you in the situation of having no other recourse, that you would still prefer not to go that way, but that you will do it if necessary.

"Since I honored my end of the deal, I would prefer not being put in this situation of having to pursue what you promised".

Translation: you are putting me in this situation, the responsibility for what I will do from now on is yours, not mine.

And, since I always prefer cooperation, I would still prefer not to go that route. But your choice: do nothing, and for sure I will not shy away from declaring war on you.

This has the added benefit of signaling to any bystanders or observers that you still prefer honest cooperation whenever possible.

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Lucio Buffalmano

Of course a day has passed and she's not sending me any contacts.

Analysis

My feeling is that she is waiting for me to ask her the contacts of her colleague to cement the frame that she owes me nothing, or (even better for her) for me to wait indefinitely to cement the same frame.

And if I ask, then maybe her "contact" (her fiancé) will wait indefinitely to pay me, and she will play the "It's not me that must pay you" game, while her fiancé will play the "I don't know who you are" game.

Let's think like a Machiavellian here: why did she not tell me that her fellow lawyer is her fiancé? While I was working, she even forwarded me the e-mails this person sent her regarding this appeal, which are strangely very formal: "Dear Colleague...". You don't write "Dear Colleague" to your girlfriend.

So why? Probably because this was her (or should I say their, since they are together) intention from the start. This would also explain why she abused me when I was working: i.e. to try to lower my self-esteem and make me more amenable to not being paid or being paid less than agreed. Plus the triangulation.

The two probably agreed that they would play this game with me, the "naive young attorney", from the start.

She must be rather upset. My intuition, in fact, suggested me to issue the invoice directly in her name, even if I did not yet fully understand what was going on. So I feel I should continue following that same path: as far as I'm concerned, responsibility for payment is upon you.

I feel like I am playing chess. And I was never that good at chess.

Solution

So I'm probably going to skip step 1, and go directy to step 2 (since I received the mandate from you, I would expect a more proactive stance on having this invoice settled).

Thinking of sending her a message tomorrow or this Friday saying something like "Hi, sorry to have to insist but I received this work from you and performed it, as far as I'm concerned, in your interest, so I would be really grateful if you could cause this invoice to be settled asap". And maybe add "So please proceed to forward yourself the proforma invoice to ... whom you know personally and with whom you kept all contact, and at payment I will issue the final invoice with the data that in the meantime you will have provided to me. Thank you".

My frame is going to be "I don't care who pays, it's your responsibility to have me get paid for the work I did for you".

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Lucio Buffalmano

Yes, I agree.

Holding her responsible seems the best solution -the "CC him" only held her responsible at 50%-.

We might call it a "maze game" or "muddle the water" game.
I'm not the right person, wait I pass you the info, the info never comes, you chase, then she passes you their contact and it's not their problem anymore. It becomes "up to you" to chase the new contact, and then the new contact can play the same waiting game, then the "ignorant game", and then maybe even complain about something in the job.

Going to read your "system guidelines" later.
That's the most interesting part for power dynamics as it could become a general approach and make its way into some higher-level strategy (and then maybe into some article or lesson).

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Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on November 18, 2021, 4:08 am

Yes, I agree.

Holding her responsible seems the best solution -the "CC him" only held her responsible at 50%-.

So we could add another point to the guidelines:

5. Refuse any attempt by the other party to deflect responsibility by claiming someone else has to act on your request

As far as you are concerned, you only interacted with him/her and not with third parties, so he/she had to sort out any interactions with third parties to honor his/her commitment; to you that's indifferent, and you will hold him/her directly responsible in any case.

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Lucio Buffalmano

I love your systematization of what we talked about so far, Bel.

It looks good for the most part.

And, in general, this "generalizing in a set of steps" is great for making the approaches and strategies easier to communicate, teach, learn, save, and apply.
It's something that might make PU / the website even better if done more extensively.
John who was in the community used to do the same sometimes (maybe the engineering background had something to do with it?).

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Two other concepts popped into my mind today:

6. In general, it is better to never step outside of the game to accuse the other person of playing a game/manipulating you/disrespecting you

If you do, the other person will easily deny, and you will have no way of proving your point that he/she is manipulating or intending to harm you. This is because it is impossible to prove intention, and behavior can have multiple interpretations.

7. While it may superficially seem that the progressive escalation may slow down the process of obtaining compliance, in reality in most cases it is going to shorten the time frame for you to obtain what you demand of the other person

This is because the other person will feel the pressure ramping up naturally, and start to worry. If instead you declare war abruptly, the other person will feel you are crazy or not serious, and naturally resist.

So I think I'm going to send the following message in a short time, even more direct:

"Hi, I was entrusted with this job directly from you and performed it, as far as I'm concerned, in your interest: so I would really appreciate if you could pay my fees as soon as possible and then settle your relation with your Colleague, with whom only you had contact, as you will deem appropriate. Thank you and kind regards".

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