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Manipulation technique: triangulation

Hello guys,

I believe this to be an important manipulative tactics to be aware of: triangulation. In a few words, it's when somebody becomes an intermediate between you and another person. This allows this person to have control over the relationship and the communication you two have. The defense against this tactics is quite easy: talk directly to the interested person (if it is worth it).

I am writing this thread because I found that there is an easy way to spot someone using this technique.

They will say: "Person A told me that ...." and the content concerns you directly.

Example: "Person A told me that she really did not like when you did that." 

That means that this person could have told you directly instead of the other person being the intermediate. But now the intermediate has the information going through them.

I've been victim of this for years as I was naive: "this person would never want me and this other person not to get along". Well, they would if that would give them more power (over you).

I think "triangulation" deserves a spot in the dictionary. What do you think Lucio?

I would think this is definitely a power move as it abruptly change the power dynamics and it is a way of power scalping as the person is taking power from a situation where she did not have.

Stef has reacted to this post.
Stef

Real state agents have a tactic that is pure triangulation: they monopolize the flow of information becoming the only channel of communication between the parties involved, and then they tell the seller that the buyer is offering less than he really is, and they tell the buyer that the seller is asking more than he is, and by making the price gap bigger they increase their profit margin!

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Lucio BuffalmanoJohn Freeman

Absolutely, just entered.

And thank you for the opportunity. I had talked more than once about sexual triangulation, but not yet about triangulation in social settings.

Triangulation analysis

Triangulation deprives the receiver of the information of the opportunity to directly reply and engage with the originator of the comment.

That potentially leaves him trapped in a one-up frame, judge frame, or undue criticism.
The victim gets both emotionally upset (back on the importance of not taking things personally) and disempowered, but has no opportunity to change the dynamic.

In turn, the originator gains power in different ways:

  • Cover shield: for not receiving any push-back against his initial one-upping
  • Messenger power move: for dealing with the target through a "messenger", which is often a sign of power
  • Disrespectful one-upping: not dealing with someone in person can be a way of saying "I'm too above you". It's one-upping through slight disrespect

Like you said, also the messenger is empowered.
The messenger can deliver sharp criticism and hide behind the "don't shoot the messenger" cover, so it can become a very effective technique for covert-aggression, or covert-abuse, or a covert-power move (just like that nurse did when she spoke to the crying patient and then came to you).

Solution: reject the messenger, go to the source

Just like you said, tell the messenger that you don't want to hear it through him, but want to talk directly to the originator.

Then, speak to the originator, and also let the originator know that you prefer direct communication.

 

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John FreemanStef
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

A great example of this is on "The Shield" when the protagonist does this to get the Mexican Cartel to kill off the smaller Armenian mob. He basically tells both sides that the other side doesn't want to talk to them and hates them. When people hate each other, they are less likely to talk to the other person directly as a subconscious power move (e.g. "Eric? Screw him, I'm not talking to him!"). It's brilliant. 

In addition to what Lucio already mentioned, I think there is some value in using an intermediary. Sometimes, when the exact same things are being said by someone else, they are received much better.

Imagine if you had some big insight on how to run the company you work for, better, but you are just a low level employee with no influence. How do you think your company's CEO will receive your advice/insight? Probably he or she will just ignore you. Now what if your brother happens to be the CFO of the company and he tells the CEO the exact same thing you told him? He will be more likely to consider it.

Lucio Buffalmano has reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmano
Quote from JP on August 27, 2020, 4:15 am

In addition to what Lucio already mentioned, I think there is some value in using an intermediary. Sometimes, when the exact same things are being said by someone else, they are received much better.

Imagine if you had some big insight on how to run the company you work for, better, but you are just a low level employee with no influence. How do you think your company's CEO will receive your advice/insight? Probably he or she will just ignore you. Now what if your brother happens to be the CFO of the company and he tells the CEO the exact same thing you told him? He will be more likely to consider it.

Very good observation, JP.

Yes, also for triangulation, there is a time and place where it can be value-adding and win-win.

Furthermore, of course, it can also be used as a Machiavellian tool when you want to damage someone -hopefully, someone who had it coming-.

 

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?