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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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Update just to laugh: even though I stopped all contact and did not send her anything, this lady sent me new year's wishes on the 2nd of January. Something I felt was really fake:

Happy New Year Bel [emoticon of glasses cheering], may 2022 bring you all that you wish and may you obtain all you deserve. Talk soon [emoticon of happy face]

Yeah, maybe you stopping trying to manipulate me would be nice?

I answered with:

Happy new year to you

To which she answered with the emoticon of two hands in "thanks" position.

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Lucio BuffalmanoMatthew WhitewoodZenDancer

Now she's extending olive branches.

That's power, brother :).

Jokes aside, we don't know if she'd have sent it anyway, but it's certainly possible that she's only being (surface-level) nicer now that you're acting higher power.

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Matthew WhitewoodTransitionedZenDancerBel
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haha... reminds me of the immortal line from Dangeous Liaisons - 'why do we only feel compelled to chase the ones who run away?' .... The movie is well worth checking out - not least for how it explores power, seduction and love - if you haven't seen it already.

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Lucio BuffalmanoTransitionedBel
Hi Everyone,
posting here to highlight something else I got from this very helpful thread:
People want you to be at "their level" to interact with you, but (mostly) don't want to help you getting there
This is a particular client I wrote about above:

Specific case

This client stopped answering my calls some time ago, but now he sent me a bottle of wine for Christmas. I find that puzzling (in line with that supervisor from the other thread paying my invoice but not replying).

So I tried to call him to thank him, and he doesn't pick up. In the past I would have just sent him a text to thank him, but now I remembered that whenever he would call me, he would first message me to ask "Can I disturb you on the phone today?". So I just sent him that same message:

Me: Good morning, can I disturb you on the phone today?

He replied:

Him: Good morning attorney, I'm sorry but I couldn't call back. I will disturb you early this afternoon. Talk soon.

I tried to apply what I learned from PU and the forum, and replied with:

Me: No, I should always follow your example of asking availability. With this Covid situation work is more than before and often uninterrupted. I hope we may be able to talk in the early afternoon then. Talk soon.

After this exchange, I stopped just calling this particular client on the phone, and instead started sending a text or email asking for a time to speak, every time. And with that, the problem of not being able to reach him was suddenly solved: he was always available. Not only that: this client also started giving me more and more complex and significant work after this exchange.

So, my thought is that he wanted me to just ask to set a time to speak before calling him: but he would not say that out loud in a message. He was just avoiding me before.

My recognition of the real issue came out from the "power protecting" concept in PU, and also out of something else Lucio mentioned repeatedly: that of people "testing" you to see if you speak their language (in terms of power).

Essentially, some (most?) people, even if in good faith, won't explain to you what you are doing wrong, and instead will simply assume you are not "ready". So being able to pick up these unsaid things, even if they relate to something like setting times to speak before calling, becomes all the more important.

P.S. In line with the above idea: the reason why I repost in these threads instead of opening other threads is because, in my mind, this avoids cluttering the forum with multiple threads. But if it would be preferable to open new threads for each new concept (which, I am starting to realize, Lucio already suggested to me more than once!), I will do so from now on.

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Lucio BuffalmanoMats G

Awesome Bel, thank you for the update and for the note, this is also very helpful for me on deciding what's important and what may be added (or removed) from PU (or into spin-offs like Business University if PU if it's good but not high prior enough for PU),

I think what you did great here as well was to:

  • Adapt to his style: this often beats the general rule. Such as, I wouldn't generally call a customer a service provider unless it's for high prior and urgent stuff. HOWEVER, if a customer never replies to texts and always and only calls, then I'd adapt and do calls even for status updates

The power protecting here probably also played a role.
The customer usually wants the service provider to do a great job, without taking too much of his time, so not calling customers for less than high-prio stuff is often a good idea.

As for opening new threads, feel free to open a new one if it's an important concept or realization, but it's always up to (personally, I think this one deserves its own thread and potentially even PU entry as a standalone concept).

All the other considerations you make are spot-on.
We may even come up with a term for that:

  • The secret handshake principle: successful and high-power folks always recognize and appreciate those who are at their level, but they'll never tell you how to get there ad what you're doing wrong
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Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on May 3, 2022, 5:19 am

I wouldn't generally call a customer unless it's for high prior and urgent stuff.

The customer usually wants the service provider to do a great job, without taking too much of his time, so not calling customers for less than high-prio stuff is often a good idea.

Thank you Lucio, this is also really helpful and something I had not yet understood fully.

So calling customers on the phone is probably going to be interpreted as a nuisance unless it’s high-priority and really urgent. And it’s better to update them, and/or to send birthday wishes to them for instance, by emailing.

This triggers in my mind many past mistakes I did in this direction. I think I created their own resistance to picking up the phone. I somewhat thought calling was a caring act demonstrating commitment. And also the situation with this one customer above is now reframed: what I really did here above was probably also just recover a situation I was destroying. Because he did, in fact, favor texts over phone calls; I am the one who used to prefer the phone call over texts/emails, because texts/emails take up more of my time than calls.

And I was now still (albeit less then before) calling customers to give routine updates, without realizing that they probably interpret it as an interference on my part in their life. I think they also inferred from this tendency of mine that I myself was not busy and somewhat “needed” them (which btw was true at the time), to then sometimes try to obtain fee reductions.

I think I will mostly stick to email from now on (especially for status updates). Text when it is urgent. Calls when it is “immediate action required”. Unless the customer calls me.

Yeah, of course this is full of exceptions and the individual case matters most.

One can be super busy, but if to him winning that case or "punishing" his enemy is a high priority, then he wants to hear from his lawyer, no matter how busy he is -simply because it's a high priority, as we say here "too busy" is often a covert power move because it's most often a matter of prios-.

But yeah, generally speaking, many high-power, driven and successful guys want to pay others to fix their problems and take things off their plate so they can focus on their work / passion / life.
So when you constantly update him instead of getting the job done and freeing their time, they feel like you're not in line with their "maximum efficiency" approach.

But again, this is a case where the general rule really takes a step back on the individual cases.

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The more I think about it, the more I believe the general rule holds true all the more in my sector of work. In this direction:

  • other senior lawyers in the law firms where I used to work communicated with clients mostly by email or letter; they took calls, but rarely made them (of course they didn't teach me this!);
  • when a lawyer calls a client, I think, he mostly forces the client to make a difficult decision on the spot: the conversation to be had may be private and sensitive, and the client may have to choose between ignoring the call, or moving himself apart of the people he might be talking with in that moment;
  • when a client calls a lawyer, on the other hand, the client by definition is ready to talk about the sensitive issue, and the lawyer is expected to be at his office;
  • calling clients gives a vibe of "needing" them; taking calls communicates "I can help you".

There are exceptions of course. If you win a lawsuit, as a lawyer you immediately call the client on the phone. Or if you have to take a difficult decision for the client on the spot. But that's about it.

I think I was somewhat driving away clients with my prior behavior. Even if emails take more of my time, it's better to stick to them unless emergencies happen.

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Lucio Buffalmano

Thank you for the note, Bel.

I learned from it, I agree, and very glad to see you implemented the changes to get real-life results.

Not surprised they didn't teach that 🙂

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