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My journey to assertiveness

Great stuff, John.

That type of tone would have justified a stronger come back as well.
A direct line in the sand such as "I'm typing something, and please make sure that this is the first and last time you address me with that one" would have also been appropriated.

Yet your reaction of "I'm shocked" was also truly GREAT.

It's a covert judge-power move.
On the surface, passive and not strong enough, but in reality, it effectively framed her as bullying, unprofessional, and highly inappropriate.

This was the equivalent of a military "scorched earth technique". Instead of fighting, you let her advance. She found no enemy, and once she looked around, she realized that she was encircled, and socially naked and vulnerable.

It's also an example of powerful vulnerability: you didn't hide your true feelings, and it served you well.

 

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Thank you very much. I have to admit I was proud in the moment. I did not analyzed it as thoroughly as you did but I was proud of myself. I had an instinctual reaction, to be vulnerable in this moment and it proved to be one of the right approaches in this moment.

As I told you, I can really feel my social intelligence increasing. So this is encouraging.

About your first suggestion, in my context this would be too strong. Switzerland is a culture of politeness, hierarchy, compromise and indirectness. Talking like that to a superior even though in a different hierarchy, would get me in trouble I believe. In my context I could talk like that in my private life in case somebody close would insult me. Otherwise this is a no-no.

However, I think this is strong and solid communication in a more direct communication culture I believe.

Quote from John Freeman on July 26, 2020, 3:53 pm

About your first suggestion, in my context this would be too strong. Switzerland is a culture of politeness, hierarchy, compromise and indirectness. Talking like that to a superior even though in a different hierarchy, would get me in trouble I believe. In my context I could talk like that in my private life in case somebody close would insult me. Otherwise this is a no-no.

All the more reasons why that was masterful.

I'm writing a dictionary-post with power dynamics definition, and I will link to your post as an example of effective "scorched earth technique".

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Hahaha, well I'm honored.

To clarify, I was talking about this, when talking about being too strong:

"...and please make sure that this is the first and last time you address me with that one"

There is the "please", though.

Bold move

Yesterday, as I was doing my presentation in front of around 20 people (residents, supervisors, executives). I was coming to the end and there was not much time left. So I said: "I'm going to hurry up and not show all the next slides". To which a power-hungry female supervisor add : "John, you have to hurry up because there's not so much time left". To which I replied in a firm equal tone:

"That's what I just said. As I just said: I'm going to hurry up" and proceeded with the end of the presentation.

Why did I said that?

Because I know this supervisor loves to tell me to do things I was already going to do. So I neutralized her power move and exposed it for anyone to see. I was so proud of myself. However, I have to be careful not to antagonize her as she's my "tutor" and will evaluate me at the end of my time there. She was trying to paint herself as an executive at this moment, of course.

I got also attacked by another power-hungry female supervisor which I answered politely by taking the blame: "I miscommunicated, what I meant is [what everybody else understood except you because you were too busy looking for the flaws in my presentation]".  It is true that when people attack you and you defend correctly, they do look petty. So thank you Lucio! Before I would have never been able to defend myself from such attacks. "A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, never for attack." - Yoda

And of course, the presentation was a huge success. I could set many collaborative frames by encouraging people to participate. I also put this image in the beginning of my presentation with the words "The Goal" above it. This is when I said: "the goal of this presentation is to discuss together what we do right and wrong. To talk about the protocols, etc." That was message 1. Message 2 is "Burn this image into your brains, because this is my vision of what a great team is." I let it on purpose for a couple of minutes.

              The Goal

Lucio Buffalmano has reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmano

Boom!!

Great, great job, John!

A couple ideas on that power move:

  • To make it less confrontational, you can start with "yes, and... "

So it would sound something like this:

You: I'm going to hurry up and not show all the next slides
Her: John, you have to hurry up because there's not so much time left
You: Yes, as I was saying, we are going to hurry now...

The "yes" in front of it "softens" the rapport break, it's almost as if you agree, as if to say "true that". But then the next sentence reminds everyone that you just said that, which professionally sub-communicates "as I have just said, you dumbass... "

Body language and eye contact could make all the difference, here too.
For example, if you look at her and say that line with a smile, it's more of a parent / paternalistic frame, as if you want to stress "you silly, silly one ".

If you avoid eye contact with her and look up, and if you add a slight eye roll or an annoyed gesture, you stress the nastiness -and inutility- of her power move (but of course you don't wanna go that far with a supervisor).

  • The sarcastic power move

This what I would have done IF I had had all the power or if I didn't need to keep any good relationship (not your case, but just for sharing and learning's sake):

You: I'm going to hurry up and not show all the next slides
Her: John, you have to hurry up because there's not so much time left
You: (slight pause, with a smile) Yes, Katy, thank you for repeating what I have just said

This is all done very theatrically, with a big smile and big body gestures, as if to say "look what a big game player she is, but I'm going to point this out for everyone to laugh at it".


And great job on that other attack as well.
If you wanted to further highlight that it was just her who didn't get, you might have said "yeah, I might have not made that clear enough, let me repeat it now. What I was saying is... Is it clear now?"
That way, you indirectly single her out as the only one who didn't get it and/or is playing power moves.


Just some ideas here.
Overall, great job, I was very happy to read about your well-played success.

 

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?
Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on August 19, 2020, 5:21 pm
  • To make it less confrontational, you can start with "yes, and... "

So it would sound something like this:

You: I'm going to hurry up and not show all the next slides
Her: John, you have to hurry up because there's not so much time left
You: Yes, as I was saying, we are going to hurry now...

Yes Sir! This is absorbed in my mind and will be re-used as needed. Powerful and subtle, just as we like it. Regarding the sarcastic one: I'll keep it for the future when I'll have more positional power, of course. Thanks a lot for these!

And great job on that other attack as well.
If you wanted to further highlight that it was just her who didn't get, you might have said "yeah, I might have not made that clear enough, let me repeat it now. What I was saying is... Is it clear now?"
That way, you indirectly single her out as the only one who didn't get it and/or is playing power moves.

Once more, powerful and subtle. Yes, it is a different frame from "My communication skills were lacking" to "Your understanding was lacking" without saying it obviously. Thank you!

Just some ideas here.
Overall, great job, I was very happy to read about your well-played success.

Thank you very much. As you know, the student's success is the teacher's success. I'm happy to share it with you as well! It's coming together.

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Lucio Buffalmano

3 power moves I'm happy to have feed-back on. I was not sure where to post these.

1."Theorizing": I was sharing my medical knowledge with an intern (subordinate to me) out loud and one of my supervisor (who's not very good) was listening and came by. She asked the intern: "I hope he's not boring you by theorizing". Her frame implied that I don't know what I'm talking about. Reality: she does not know what I was talking about and felt the need to make me look like I was a nerd. I said nothing because she was my supervisor and I did not want to upset her and make her look bad.

2."Don't talk like this to the patient": I was going to see the foot of a patient with one of the nurse who's doing a training as a "clinical nurse" and I said to the patient whom I knew from 1 week ago: "Ooh, that's quite ugly" as I empathized with her and they agreed. The nurse told me: "don't talk like this to the patient" in an angry tone. She meant it was not professional and made the patient look bad. I said: "Ok, I understand your point of view". I went back to the patient and her parent and asked if she felt bad and they said no because they understood my intention. They said they appreciated my honesty. I went back to the nurse and told her that. My goal was to neutralize her triangulation attempt.

3."Do you still have time to see a patient?": It was 15 min before the end of my shift and I had plenty of paperwork still to do. There was one patient to see and my colleague (equal) told me "Do you still have time to see a patient?". She's tasking me as she was talking like a supervisor. I answered: "Well, I have all this paperwork to do still". So she went to see the patient. She's quite cold and very competitive. So her goal was to make me look like I was lazy and she was hard-working. My supervisor who was present knows better but still he saw me lose this interaction. I think I should not have bought into her frame. Would this be the answer: Trap questions.

All in all, I often underestimate the nastiness and petiness of people and colleagues and women. I also noticed that people try to frame me as lazy. I am a hard-worker but it is true that I was a little bit tired the past couple of weeks. And I feel like (kind and benevolent people 😉 ) spread a rumor like I was lazy. Or maybe it's my own guilt.

So I'm happy to have feed-back on these situations as I was not very comfortable with these.

Thanks!

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Stef

John,

  • Theorizing: a power move for the pleasure of throwing his weight around

The boss was throwing his weight around.
Unneeded, but not too value-taking.
And a good call to let him have it.
I would have probably said something, though.

Something like:

You: Ahaha, hopefully not (this is largely a power-aligning move), am I boring you (name of the intern)?

The intern would have likely said "no" with a laugh, and you'd have taken your power back without antagonizing the boss

  • Nurse overstepping her role

She totally misunderstood you. But even then, it was really out of place of her to say that.

Another option would have been to ignore her comment.
Or to talk to the patient right away and say to the patient: "of course I meant that in a friendly way. Was that OK for you?"
If they say "it was OK", then smile and move on. If they said no, apologize and clarify with the patient. Then talk to the nurse later on.

  • Do you still have time to see a patient: the tasking power move

Those situations are thorny.
Tasking is one of the most challenging power moves to deal with at work for the exact same reasons you mention: deny them, and you might be framed as lazy, attack and you come across as overly aggressive.

I would have probably replied with:

You: Hey, I'm filing the XYZ reports right now, since you're already standing, do you have 15 minutes for that patient?

Such as,you task them back and indirectly say "I'm busy, but YOU are not doing anything right now, maybe YOU got time?".

If you wanted to go one step beyond, you might have added:

You: But if you need some support or it's a more challenging case and you want a second opinion, I'm happy to help

See the power move?
1. you offer support and go from lazy indirect frame, to value-adding, hard-working team member; 2. you frame yourself as the guy for value-added work. When they are not sure what it might be, then they call you in

 

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Thank you very much for your answers!

You: (Ahaha), hopefully not (this is largely a power-aligning move), am I boring you (name of the intern)?

Actually I remember now: that is the exact sentence I said (without the laugh). I had forgotten. Thanks!

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Lucio Buffalmano
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