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Thank you Lucio, that's super helpful advice!

Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on October 19, 2022, 2:33 pm

And about doing your own thing, consider that you may have a lot more free time doing it while as a student, or while working as a history teacher, than in most other jobs.
So, in a way, if you want to quit to have more time, keeping doing what you're doing may actually be a valid, or even great, option.
You "only" need to accept that your main growth and learning won't be coming from uni.

I'll try to approach my studies this way for the rest of the semester before I make my decision.

 

I've been thinking whether to invest in some glasses/sunglasses with a camera and strap a microphone while going through life to record more real-life examples (for example, when I described my interaction with that dominant head waiter, it could have been PU material with a recording).

I love this idea! I always thought the real life examples are one of the best parts of PU and would definitely enjoy more of them.

Lucio Buffalmano has reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmano

For the past few weeks I have been doing an internship at a high-school as part of my education to become a teacher. I recently gave my students a short essay to write that I later sat down to grade. While my grades don't actually count since I'm not a teacher yet I was still allowed to do this as practice.

One of my students, who I'll call Monica, did not put any references into her text. This was something I had told them several times to do, and since they're doing their last year of high-school it's something they've been working on for years and should know by now. Still, Monica had not been paying attention in my classes, instead showing up late and talking, or sitting with her phone. Since she took information from other sources without referencing I gave her a failing grade, but gave her the chance to fix her mistake.

While fixing the mistake, however, she also copied several parts of her friends text. Almost a third of Monica's text was a word for word copy of her friends text, and so I once again gave her a failing grade. I told Monica that I had already given her an opportunity to fix the text but she instead decided to cheat and take the easy way out. I also told her I would not give her another chance since it would send the message that cheating would not have consequences.

Unfortunately for me, I did not do this properly since we were sitting in a library with people around and thus others could hear that she had cheated and failed. The librarian even came up to us and told me that this was a conversation that should not be held publicly, and the girl (and her two present friends) quickly pounced on this new information and used it against me:

Monicas friend: Look, everybody makes mistakes, but that doesn't mean that you should be so harsh with the consequences.

Me: The consequences is that you get a failing grade, this way you will learn and it won't happen again.

Monica: I already learned and took the consequences. The consequence was that you publicly humiliated me. I can fix this mistake in just a few minutes, so why don't you just let me do it and then grade it again?

Me: This is going to sound cold, but why would I do that? I've already given you two chances and instead of putting in the work you took the easy way out and cheated. I'm not angry at you, but if it was my text you had copied I would be. The problem isn't that I don't have the time to grade your text, the problem is your attitude of taking the easy way out. You know that you didn't put in the work and that's the problem and if I grade your text again you won't learn that cheating has consequences.

Monicas friend: Yeah, when you make mistakes it has consequences but you don't need to be so hard. We could have gone to the principal and told him/her that you publicly humiliated Monica (<-- covert threat: they "could've" means they still could if I don't do as they say) but we understand that you didn't do it on purpose. All we ask is that you have some compassion and look through her text again.

Eventually I relented and not only helped her remove all of the cheating, but also read and graded it for a third time with a passing grade.

Afterwards I realized that it would have been a great opportunity to try some of the techniques from the book Never Split the Difference which I finished reading last week. For example, using Voss's calibrated questions like "how am I supposed to give you a third chance when you've already abused my trust?" or something similar.

Regardless of what I could've done differently, I definitely should not have done what I did. By relenting to the students covert threat I went against my own values of putting the truth first even when it's uncomfortable. My decision wasn't guided by rational thinking, it was a panic-induced response that came from my fear of facing the consequences of my mistake. Now I'm incredibly upset with myself because I went against my own values and I did the student a disservice by teaching her that you can get away with cheating.

On the flip side I also know I will learn a great deal from this and in the long-term it will lead to a lot more good than harm.

Edit:
Made som corrections to the text.

Kavalier and Bel have reacted to this post.
KavalierBel

Agreed that a private discussion would've been better.

And, despite that, I think you handled the exchange pretty well given that it seemed to be pressured and fast-paced.

Quick thoughts:

Monica's Friend: Look, everybody makes mistakes, but that doesn't mean that you should be so harsh with the consequences.

You: Excuse me, I'm talking with Monica right now. If you'd like to speak to me, please wait until after we're done (sets the frame that this is a private conversation and rejects their attempt to gang up on you).

Even though this was a public conversation that should've been held in private, your next best move might've been to frame this as indeed a private conversation that just so happened to be held in a public space.

Monica: I already learned and took the consequences. The consequence was that you publicly humiliated me. I can fix this mistake in just a few minutes, so why don't you just let me do it and then grade it again?

You: I'm not humiliating you, Monica (reject the bad frame to avoid letting it stick), we're talking. And, I did let you do it again, and you cheated (moves the conversation away from the bad frame + uses the broken record technique to avoid defending). So, in the future, be honest, and I'll be happy to give you a grade that also reflects that [leave, staying around too long can imply that this is open for negotiation].

Some potential damage control options:

Monica's Friend: Look, everybody makes mistakes, but that doesn't mean that you should be so harsh with the consequences.

You: Yes, everybody makes mistakes, but not everybody cheats. So, it wouldn't be fair to the other students who did their work honestly.

And the second one:

Monica's Friend: Yeah, when you make mistakes it has consequences but you don't need to be so hard. We could have gone to the principal and told him/her that you publicly humiliated Monica, but we understand that you didn't do it on purpose. All we ask is that you have some compassion and look through her text again.

You: NAME, if you want to talk to the principal, I won't stop you. But this isn't about compassion, it's about fairness. And, it wouldn't be fair to the other students who worked hard honestly to give a passing grade to someone who cheated.

Maybe some quick meta-techniques options as well:

  • Meta-comment technique: "That's a weird way to try to get away with cheating."
  • Meta-comment technique: "That's a weird way to support your friend, NAME."
Lucio Buffalmano, Kavalier and 2 other users have reacted to this post.
Lucio BuffalmanoKavalierMats GBel

Thank you Ali! Both for the feedback and the kind words, they mean a lot.

Quote from Ali Scarlett on November 30, 2022, 5:46 pm

Monica's Friend: Look, everybody makes mistakes, but that doesn't mean that you should be so harsh with the consequences.

You: Excuse me, I'm talking with Monica right now. If you'd like to speak to me, please wait until after we're done (sets the frame that this is a private conversation and rejects their attempt to gang up on you).

Even though this was a public conversation that should've been held in private, your next best move might've been to frame this as indeed a private conversation that just so happened to be held in a public space.

I agree with this, it would have been much better than what I did. I also could have pointed out that I offered her a private discussion before we talked but she wanted her friends to be there as well. Still, that would probably just have turned into another conflict.

 

Quote from Ali Scarlett on November 30, 2022, 5:46 pm

Monica: I already learned and took the consequences. The consequence was that you publicly humiliated me. I can fix this mistake in just a few minutes, so why don't you just let me do it and then grade it again?

You: I'm not humiliating you, Monica (reject the bad frame to avoid letting it stick), we're talking. And, I did let you do it again, and you cheated (moves the conversation away from the bad frame + uses the broken record technique to avoid defending). So, in the future, be honest, and I'll be happy to give you a grade that also reflects that [leave, staying around too long can imply that this is open for negotiation].

Man this all seems so obvious now in hindsight 🙂

I definitely should have rejected her frame, but in the moment I didn't even take note of the frame she set and ended up accepting it blindly. While I like this response a lot I also think it would be good to lift them back up to avoid harming the relationship. For example:

Me: I'm not humiliating you, Monica, we're talking. And, I did let you do it again, and you cheated. So, in the future, be honest, and I'll be happy to give you a grade that also reflects that. After all, I know you're more than capable of getting a passing grade on your own.

Lucio Buffalmano, Ali Scarlett and 2 other users have reacted to this post.
Lucio BuffalmanoAli ScarlettKavalierBel

Hi Mats,

In agreeing with both Ali’s and your solution in the post above, I also think you did pretty well.

It was a very very challenging situation and not easy to deal with at all.

Edit: one possibility to deal with the threat that comes to my mind is to remove it altogether by agreeing, as she had more to lose:

Monicas friend: We could have gone to the principal and told him/her that you publicly humiliated Monica (<-- covert threat: they "could've" means they still could if I don't do as they say) but we understand that you didn't do it on purpose.

You: That’s actually a great idea, let’s go to the principal right now and ask for his opinion.

Mats G has reacted to this post.
Mats G

Wow, what "champions" these two girls.

Not necessarily in a positive way, but Monica's friends is incredible.

And at such a young age, I'm in awe.

Both Ali and Bel are right (great advice, BTW), it was a really difficult situation, and you did OK overall.

But consider: the situation was difficult in large part because of the almost-perfect maneuvers of a high-schooler :S.

That's really "wow".

Have you guys seen what she did?

There are some TOP (manipulative) strategies, frame control, and techniques she used there.

So good it may even be PU link-worthy.

The GENIUS power negotiation of a little girl

Notice:

  • Seizes the opportunity FAST and COLD: many girls would have felt bad.
    The most manipulative / aggressive ones would have threatened.
    But she? She made it part of a much larger and better strategy.
    If she hadn't used these techniques for such value-taking, turkey goals, we could say this girl handled it at top Power University level :S. This is the stuff PU teaches (part of it is in the advanced Mach "how to corrupt" section, no less)
  • Shows the stick: Fields a covert threat to lay down her leverage (and make you afraid): "YOU fucked up, we can go to the principal". Sure, she won't, but now you know that she can. You were reacting out of fear because SHE made you fear the possible consequences
  • Puts the stick in the sheath: Puts a positive spin to maintain rapport and keep the door open for the easier win-win: we COULD have gone (but didn't). So now she proposes the win-win that gives her what she wants, without having to waste time with risky escalations that would also make an enemy
  • Social exchange power move: frames the deal as fair "give and take": "we could have gone to the principal, but we understand people make mistake and we won't" = now, to be fair, you're expected to do the same (reciprocation, Cialdini)
  • Provides the carrot: maintain control and give you an easy way out while doing what they wanted: "we won't go there, we understand you made a mistake, if you only..." (which is easy so for you)
  • Makes the carrot more palatable: with a positive spin to power-protect you and make it easier to say yes: notice that the solution she proposes is a (manipulative) win-win.
    You are not going to lose, you are going to make them better off, because "she will learn from the mistake", "we all deserve a chance", etc.

On one side, she made you fear: the stick.

On the other hand, she gave you a win-win solution to avoid the stick: the carrot.

And made it possible for you to take that carrot while largely saving face -or saving face as much as possible, let's say-.
Your "yes" is now not a surrender, but a magnanimous act.

In the end, she got exactly what she wanted.
And without making any enemies.

This girl is a freaking genius.

That's a (successful) sociopath in the making.

If we could invest in people, I'd put money on her going places in life.

A couple of ideas now:

Remedy your mistake right away (minimize, remedy, move, control)

One issue was that you stayed in the original mistake.

Both physically and frame-wise.

That gave them more leverage (and decreased yours, including mentally, and contributed to you being more worried and losing control).

Remedy your mistake RIGHT AWAY.

Since the mistake was obvious and not possible to deny, i'd have power-aligned and paced and led.

When the librarian came over, immediately say "great point, thank you for reminding me" (reminding you, not telling you: you ain't no "learner" now in public, you're a teacher).

Then:

  • Make your mistake smaller: I think most people here are studying, not eavesdropping, but just to be sure..."
  • Change the setting to remedy and stay in the lead: ... "let's move somewhere else"
  • Restart from scratch: once you change the environment, the mistake is both remedied, and "in the past". It's much smaller, which means smaller leverage for them.
  • Frame control: If they try to go for it, you can say "Nono, people were studying, and we're here now anyway"

Now the mistake is smaller, addressed practically in the real world, and addressed verbally.

Behave higher power in your decisions and rationales

Don't tell the girls that you "can't or they will not learn".

One,  when you do that, you raise them at your level.

Two, you don't always disclose the rationale of your behavior (best to do with more mature people, closer to your level, and eagles).

These are (manipulative) kids, it's not like they give a shit about learning, they'll just use that information to spin a new self-serving narrative -as they did-.

You may say it to their parents, not to them.

Tell them that "we must keep the failing grade for fairness towards others, and for educative purposes".

More assertive, higher power.

Divide & consequer

Albeit it was 2 high school students, it was still 2 vs 1.

Either by controlling the interaction more assertively, as Ali said, or, potentially, even physically.

For example, you could have refused to discuss the failing grade with the student who passed.

Overall, you did OK.
And even more, in taking your lessons learned.
Good going, Mats.


Let me know what you think.

Ali Scarlett, Kavalier and 2 other users have reacted to this post.
Ali ScarlettKavalierMats GBel
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Thank you for the kind words Bel!

Quote from Bel on November 30, 2022, 9:26 pm

Edit: one possibility to deal with the threat that comes to my mind is to remove it altogether by agreeing, as she had more to lose:

Monicas friend: We could have gone to the principal and told him/her that you publicly humiliated Monica (<-- covert threat: they "could've" means they still could if I don't do as they say) but we understand that you didn't do it on purpose.

You: That’s actually a great idea, let’s go to the principal right now and ask for his opinion.

I agree with you, and when I talked with Monica about this later she told me the same thing. She hasn't exactly built up a reputation of being a good student, and while going to the principal would have been bad for me, it would likely have been worse for her.

While I think this solution could have worked if they were bluffing, I think it sets up a lose-lose situation if they weren't. If we go to the principal none of us will gain anything, but we will both lose (her for cheating, me for holding the conversation publicly). Now, this is still much better than what I did since my actions created a win-lose situation where she got what she wanted (which I still think does her more harm than good in the long-term) and I got played.

Feel free to disagree with my take on this!

Lucio Buffalmano, Kavalier and Bel have reacted to this post.
Lucio BuffalmanoKavalierBel

Thank you so much for the breakdown and advice Lucio! I now see the interaction (and the students) in a new light.

Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on December 1, 2022, 4:32 am

The GENIUS power negotiation of a little girl

Notice:

  • Seizes the opportunity FAST and COLD: many girls would have felt bad.
    The most manipulative / aggressive ones would have threatened.
    But she? She made it part of a much larger and better strategy.
    If she hadn't used these techniques for such value-taking, turkey goals, we could say this girl handled it at top Power University level :S. This is the stuff PU teaches (part of it is in the advanced Mach "how to corrupt" section, no less)
  • Shows the stick: Fields a covert threat to lay down her leverage (and make you afraid): "YOU fucked up, we can go to the principal". Sure, she won't, but now you know that she can. You were reacting out of fear because SHE made you fear the possible consequences
  • Puts the stick in the sheath: Puts a positive spin to maintain rapport and keep the door open for the easier win-win: we COULD have gone (but didn't). So now she proposes the win-win that gives her what she wants, without having to waste time with risky escalations that would also make an enemy
  • Social exchange power move: frames the deal as fair "give and take": "we could have gone to the principal, but we understand people make mistake and we won't" = now, to be fair, you're expected to do the same (reciprocation, Cialdini)
  • Provides the carrot: maintain control and give you an easy way out while doing what they wanted: "we won't go there, we understand you made a mistake, if you only..." (which is easy so for you)
  • Makes the carrot more palatable: with a positive spin to power-protect you and make it easier to say yes: notice that the solution she proposes is a (manipulative) win-win.
    You are not going to lose, you are going to make them better off, because "she will learn from the mistake", "we all deserve a chance", etc.

After reading this I have to admit that I've gained a lot of respect for this student. In the end she was the one who taught me a lesson instead of the other way around 🙂

What's unfortunate is that she used her skills to help her friend get away with cheating, but they're also 17-18 years old so I'm not surprised.

 

Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on December 1, 2022, 4:32 am
  • Puts the stick in the sheath: Puts a positive spin to maintain rapport and keep the door open for the easier win-win: we COULD have gone (but didn't). So now she proposes the win-win that gives her what she wants, without having to waste time with risky escalations that would also make an enemy

I agree partially with this, but I wouldn't go as far as to say her solution was win-win. In my eyes she framed a win-lose situation as a win-win, which I do think was an effective (albeit manipulative) move on her part.

 

Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on December 1, 2022, 4:32 am

Remedy your mistake right away (minimize, remedy, move, control)

One issue was that you stayed in the original mistake.

Both physically and frame-wise.

That gave them more leverage (and decreased yours, including mentally, and contributed to you being more worried and losing control).

Remedy your mistake RIGHT AWAY.

Since the mistake was obvious and not possible to deny, i'd have power-aligned and paced and led.

When the librarian came over, immediately say "great point, thank you for reminding me" (reminding you, not telling you: you ain't no "learner" now in public, you're a teacher).

Then:

  • Make your mistake smaller: I think most people here are studying, not eavesdropping, but just to be sure..."
  • Change the setting to remedy and stay in the lead: ... "let's move somewhere else"
  • Restart from scratch: once you change the environment, the mistake is both remedied, and "in the past". It's much smaller, which means smaller leverage for them.
  • Frame control: If they try to go for it, you can say "Nono, people were studying, and we're here now anyway"

Now the mistake is smaller, addressed practically in the real world, and addressed verbally.

Behave higher power in your decisions and rationales

Don't tell the girls that you "can't or they will not learn".

One,  when you do that, you raise them at your level.

Two, you don't always disclose the rationale of your behavior (best to do with more mature people, closer to your level, and eagles).

These are (manipulative) kids, it's not like they give a shit about learning, they'll just use that information to spin a new self-serving narrative -as they did-.

You may say it to their parents, not to them.

Tell them that "we must keep the failing grade for fairness towards others, and for educative purposes".

More assertive, higher power.

Divide & consequer

Albeit it was 2 high school students, it was still 2 vs 1.

Either by controlling the interaction more assertively, as Ali said, or, potentially, even physically.

For example, you could have refused to discuss the failing grade with the student who passed.

BOOM!

Thank you Lucio, this is super useful feedback!

What's ironic is that I actually thought of doing a few of these things in the situation, but for some reason I didn't do it.

For example, when the librarian told me not to have a conversation like that in public my first instinct was to thank him (for telling me, which I now know is wrong) but instead I just said "yeah you're right".

I also offered the students to switch locations but they didn't want to, and I considered telling them that I would only continue the discussion in private, but once again I decided not to.

Looking back I definitely agree that my behavior, not just here but in general, is not very high power. That is probably my main issue as a teacher and something I'll put more focus on improving.

Lucio Buffalmano, Kavalier and Bel have reacted to this post.
Lucio BuffalmanoKavalierBel
Quote from Mats G on December 1, 2022, 11:08 am
I also offered the students to switch locations but they didn't want to, and I considered telling them that I would only continue the discussion in private, but once again I decided not to.

 

They tried to entrench the “fake mistake” even more.

They knew you would be more pliable to acceding to the demand if their current frame was maintained.
And the more you continued to discuss there, the more the frame was being reinforced.
In other words, they were making sure your leverage was continuing to be reduced the more the discussion went on.
So I agree with ending the discussion then and there if telling them to move didn’t work.
Then one could also later indirectly point out that they seemed to want to continue the discussion in public.
I may be again taking the “devil’s advocate” role here, but I would not be surprised if they were the ones that approached you in the library and triggered the “public dialogue” there on purpose.
If so, this was another point that one could indirectly subcommunicate to show them you knew the game.
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Lucio BuffalmanoKavalierMats G
Quote from Bel on December 1, 2022, 12:31 pm

They tried to entrench the “fake mistake” even more.

They knew you would be more pliable to acceding to the demand if their current frame was maintained.
And the more you continued to discuss there, the more the frame was being reinforced.
In other words, they were making sure your leverage was continuing to be reduced the more the discussion went on.

This is very true. I hadn't thought about this, probably because they're my students and I want to think the best of them, but I definitely wouldn't put it past them to do this on purpose. And just like you said, when I asked them if they wanted a private discussion they instead led the way to the library where we sat down.

If I had managed to stay calmer I could have leveraged these factors like you said. Or even used them to turn the tables:

Monicas friend: Yeah, when you make mistakes it has consequences but you don't need to be so hard. We could have gone to the principal and told him/her that you publicly humiliated Monica, but we understand that you didn't do it on purpose. All we ask is that you have some compassion and look through her text again.

Me: Actually, you were the ones who wanted me to do this publicly (<-- Rejects their frame), and now you're trying to use this to blackmail me (<-- Sets new frame). I'm starting to wonder if that was your intent all along. (<-- Puts them back on the defensive)

I'm quite wary of using any form of power moves against my students though, who are basically kids, so even if it would work I'm not sure I would go for it.

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