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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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Just sent the above message, she tried to call me twice, then started getting angry and wrote me the following:

Her: Mature people talk.

What do you mean "in my interest"? What kind of talk is this?


I simply passed you a job.

And you don't behave like that with a colleague.

I'm without words. If you talk to me maybe we can find a solution"

Where do I go from here? I feel starting an argument on the phone or via text message is not the best way to proceed.

Matthew Whitewood and Kavalier have reacted to this post.
Matthew WhitewoodKavalier

So, when Lucio spoke about "surfacing" what kind of a person she really is, he probably meant this.

I think no reply is necessary for now.

Her reaction seems, frankly, exaggerated. I only asked, in a professional tone, if she could be the one to pay me since I only worked with her. This is the reality of things, and what the trail of work also proves: I never had any contact with her colleague. Maybe my message could be more polished, but I see no offense there.

So her reaction also probably proves what was her intention from the start.

If I were her, and I received a request by a colleague to be paid directly, and then to settle my relation with the client or another colleague, I would think "ok, if you prefer so". And even if I preferred to proceed differently, I would not react with anger, but maybe ask "is there a reason why you prefer to be paid directly by me? Would you accept to be paid by him if I solicited him?".

I have to say, this is not easy for me. Holding the frame in this situation is a bit difficult and stressful.

Matthew Whitewood has reacted to this post.
Matthew Whitewood

I think your writing was clean and professional.

It's great that you got her unprofessional message in writing.

Maybe it's good that she's angry as well because it's a chance to show her nasty behaviour while keeping your clean, professional tone if the situation does escalate all the way to a lawsuit.

I think email would be good because you would have a written track record that looks professional from your angle.
Maybe text her

I'll explain properly over email.

I am on the same page with you with the progressive escalation.

What do you think about writing an email like

Dear (name),

Yes, you did pass me a job and I have delivered upon the necessary tasks.
(maybe elaborate about the tasks you have delivered upon)

I have made sure to personally provide you with the necessary information at each step of the case.
Would you be able to help me settle the payment?

Let's get this handled, and I continue to advise you on the draft of summons.


This sets the frame of

  • I personally helped you in the case as a single point of contact as part of my responsibility
  • As such, I should only have to talk to you to get the payment.
    You should take responsibility for making the payment to me.
Bel has reacted to this post.

Thank you Matthew, your perspective and kind words are much appreciated.


But not so unexpected, it's just another power move.

She hates not being in control and losing power, and now she's trying to regain it with aggression.

She wants you to feel bad, defend, justify, then she'll get on the phone and regain power with more dominance, aggressive behavior, and frame control.
That's her goal, at least -but fuck that, ain't gonna happen-.

The fact that it's stressful just says that you're not like her, you're a better person. You're more "good".
But these are the people and situations where "good" needs to be able to play "bad".


You could text back something like:


I think there might be a miscommunication here.

I don't do calls when I'm focusing on work because they distract me.

Let's talk at X time.

If you wanted to power move, you could say:

It seemed such a simple matter to me that a call was unnecessary.
Now, I can see that it's best to talk instead (= the frame is that she misunderstood and now you'll have to talk to her because of her stupid games and over-reactions)

But I'd go for the above.

Having the call?

I'd personally have that call.

In good part, for learning sake.

On the call:

You: how are you (starts taking the frame early, she might refuse it, to which you'd say "I'm good, I hope you are as well")
You: So, what did you want to tell me (frames it like she needed to have that call, not you, you're doing her a favor with your time)
You: It seems a simple matter to me, I've delivered work to you, I've dealt with you the whole time, we're also colleagues and we know each other... Don't make it too difficult for me, just settle the bill

The "we're also colleagues" adds the moral layer to it.

The sub-communication is:

"We're colleagues and we know each other, so I'd expect a colleague and acquaintance to make it easy, rather than difficult".

Many lawyers aren't too big into that, but I'd personally stress that part even more.
It makes legal escalation and hustles more unlikely and more likely you'll resolve the matter out of ethics, principles, and collaborative frames (what you want more of).

Matthew Whitewood and Bel have reacted to this post.
Matthew WhitewoodBel
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Adding to the foundation laid out by Lucio.

Maybe preparing a few points could enhance psychological safety and also steer the conversation during the call:

  1. Your non-negotiables, boundaries and constraints
    • I will not deliver more work without payment
    • I will not do the work for getting payment like chasing, coming to her office, etc
    • Maybe you have some deadlines & commitments too: payment-wise, work-wise, etc
  2. Your leverages
    You could strategically show some of these to bait and persuade her.

    • Lucio's moral leverage: appeal to a good relationship in making things easier for each other.
    • Her debt: You could play to certain specific agreements set out initially about how she needs to pay you.
      • Timeline - she's paying late
      • Amount - she hasn't made any payments
        You could say

        "I'll make it easier for you. Maybe this amount is hard to pay in one shot. Why don't you pay 50% first?"

      • Her responsibilities - she's responsible for making the payment happen not you
    • Future sources of value: Your undelivered work like the draft of summons could be something she really needs.
      I'm unsure here and you would know better.
    • Emotional leverage: She's angry.
      You can ask some questions that make her feel like telling you what to do but help you find out more information.
      Starting the conversation out with questions can sometimes be best as it may give you more cards to work with.

      • What would you like me to deliver next in this case?
      • How would you like colleagues to behave?
      • How do you usually deal with payments from clients in cases?
Kellvo and Bel have reacted to this post.

Thank you Lucio and Matthew,

I am not sure I am able to keep the conversation polite and professional in the face of provocations and aggression. I also am not sure I am able to just subcommunicate my position instead of expressing it explicitly. Part of the problem here is she is older and more experienced than me, and is well connected in the sector.

My natural tendency in such a call would be to overextend, saying explicitly what I think: that she is behaving in a ridiculous way, that I am the one who is being disrespected here, that I expect a colleague to make it easy and not difficult for me, and that she should stop playing games. I tried to play it in my head and my tone feels angry and sarcastic. And I am absolutely sure she would capitalize on anything less than professional and polite that could come out of my mouth, while demeaning me all the time.

I think I am going to have the call, don't know if today or next week, but it is not going to be easy. Last night I had trouble sleeping and feel a bit agitated.

I understand logically that I have done nothing wrong and have been polite all the time, if firm, in the face of continuous disrespect; but emotionally, part of me is asking if I have done something wrong. And another part of me thinks I shouldn't have to go through this just to get my work paid as agreed at the start.

Lucio Buffalmano, Kellvo and 2 other users have reacted to this post.
Lucio BuffalmanoKellvoAli ScarlettMatthew Whitewood

I am not sure I am able to keep the conversation polite and professional in the face of provocations and aggression.

It is very challenging.
It's our natural instinct to defend ourselves against provocations and aggression.
To an extent, that's a good thing.

You can see her getting angry as a good thing.
You are getting powerful.
Her manipulations are not working, and she's getting frustrated.

You can also mentally de-personalise her in your mind:

A value-taker is trying to get aggressive with me?
I'm the one with the skills to deliver and have delivered.
She's like a dog barking at me for food and attention.

It's also empowering to know your emotional state.
I can hardly say that I am calm and collected in a wide variety of situations.
But once we are aware, we can manage ourselves better.

What do you think about sticking to email communication?
You can have plenty of time to draft responses.
In a way, she doesn't deserve your emotional energy and time for a call.

Part of the problem here is she is older and more experienced than me, and has more connections in the legal sector.

People like her may appear to have lots of connections.
In reality, she may not have strong connections.

She probably needs you.
She cannot easily get her advice on civil law from her connections.

Kellvo and Bel have reacted to this post.

Great insights from everyone!

Her anger is a great sign - it means her Frame is finally beginning to crumble. A certain sign of dominance is coolness and strength (even the appearance thereof) under pressure, while emotionally reacting to someone is the inverse. While you're not 100% there yet, you're definitely on the right track.

This is a protracted war of attrition, a game of Chicken - who will break first? The good thing about long-lasting yet infrequent conflicts like this is that they give you plenty of time to learn, adapt and overcome. The ambitious, driven man striving for improvement, against a likely complacent and overconfident adversary like her, can keep on growing as a person, expanding his options and learning about Power Dynamics until he eclipses and overwhelms her.

These battles are won in the mind first, and that is done by rising above the situation, inside and out. What are your weak points, your pains and fears, that she is able to exploit? What's keeping you entangled, physically and psychologically? How can you remove these? I assure you, overcoming this will not only give physical profit, but create a better man in general.

Lucio Buffalmano and Bel have reacted to this post.
Lucio BuffalmanoBel
Quote from Bel on November 19, 2021, 12:18 pm

I am not sure I am able to keep the conversation polite and professional in the face of provocations and aggression. I also am not sure I am able to just subcommunicate my position instead of expressing it explicitly. Part of the problem here is she is older and more experienced than me, and is well connected in the sector.


That's very good self-analysis man.

Aware of your (current!) limitations, how they play up in the exchange, how they might be exploited, and what they may cost you.

That's the type of dispassionate analysis that leads to the best strategic choices (and results).

I think PU also says in one lesson that if you're up against a more powerful opponent in a competitive environment or negotiation, then more indirect forms of communication are often best.

So if you're totally sure that you'd end up doing very poorly in a call, then it might be a good idea to keep it text-based.

That being said I'd still nudge you to at least consider the call.
And to record it. Not even for record-keeping or legal reasons -in many jurisdictions, you can't present audio recording without the other party knowing it, but you know that far better than I do-.
But to rel-listen to it, and learn from it.

Ask yourself: what's the worst that can happen?
Chances are: it can't be that bad.

And keep in mind the middle way: audio messages.

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