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My Journey to Power

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Nice, John!

Really happy to read that, it's a major win indeed.

And lots of great lines even from a strictly power perspective, including:

For any question or remark, you can write to us at the generic email (generic email address), noted by all the members of the committee.
All written communication will be treated confidentially. We are also available for a face-to-face discussion if needed.

= assholes can be reported and made known now.
No more easy abusing without any repercussions.

And this line here:

This is also an opportunity for us to extend a warm welcome to (new big boss of the paediatrics service) with whom we are delighted to collaborate.

Even if not intended that way, it's a great high-power, high-warmth power move.

Think about that, it's the boss that is being welcomed.
Now he knows that his power is not limitless and that there are parallel organizations that can limit his power.
No biggies for any normal person and anyone who wants to make a good job should be happy.
But it's a strong message if one wanted to come in and be an asshole: now he knows that his power is checked.

John Freeman has reacted to this post.
John Freeman
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Thank you very much Lucio! Yes, the message was as you read it, to go into more details:

This is also an opportunity for us to extend a warm welcome to (new big boss of the paediatrics service) with whom we are delighted to collaborate.

Here my intention was to take the opportunity to :

  1. Show all the readers that we are connected to the new big boss of pediatrics and "we have his ear" (the other "big boss" who helped us, who's mentoring us and with whom I repaired the relationship is the boss of the gynecology-neonatology-pediatrics-pediatric surgery-obstretics department, so 1 step above the head of pediatrics for clarifications. We will deal 70% of the time with the head of pediatrics and 30% of the time with the head of department). So they also know that we mean business: we are going to do stuff. They also know we are under his protection, so no messing with resident physicians anymore (repetition of the message as you noticed elsewhere).
  2. It was a power move. It was the only opportunity where we could address him publicly and welcome him. The welcoming is a gesture towards him, there was an intention of warmth indeed. There is also a sub-communication: we are a group now. The third sub-communication is: we extend our hand to you to bring us into our territory, you're the new guy. That is the power element I intended. This guy looks more than ok. He's already seen the mess that is the service and has already plans and measure to reform it all. So he's definitely a problem solver and a doer rather than a politicker not taking any decision as his predecessor was. We shall see. But so far, all green lights. So in my intention there was no warning element here. I understand it can be read like that though and it's part of it as well.

Ah fuck! I realize I forgot to mention there are 66 resident physicians. Well, the email has not been moderated yet I can still correct it. I asked the guy to block it. It's been sent today and supposed to be released on Monday.

The "66 resident physicians" is a purposeful show of force. We are now a force to reckon with.

Actually it’s 85 residents (quite a force right?).

Hello @lucio,

a feed-back on your feed-back about the situation with the secretaries asking for my age.

You were right: it was flirting.

Clumsy flirting but still.

Now that I improved even more my social intelligence and confidence I see it and go with it. They love it so it’s all good.

Thank you very much!

Lucio Buffalmano has reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmano

Thank you for the note, John!

It's always good to have feedback on previous advice and/or interactions we discussed as that feeds and improves one's intuition and skills (independently of whether it's confirmation or correction).

John Freeman has reacted to this post.
John Freeman
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

It is!

There's a relationship I realise I have to repair. It's with the owner of my favourite bar. We are friends but we see each other always either in the bar or in group situations. So I would not say we're close friends. I think I damaged the relationship during the period when I was figuring out the power vs friendship thing.

I always tip, I always pay. However he accused me publicly (because of his employee who made a mistake) once not to have paid so I went in: it was a mistake and I had to repair my reputation publicly. I'm wondering if it has something to do with my origins and if he's not a bit a hidden racist. He seem to be happy to see other people but not me so much: no big smile like with other people.

I also put him on a pedestal by giving him too many compliments about him and his bar I think. So I think I created a power differential unknowingly and unwillingly. For instance, tonight I offered shots to a friend and he poured 3 of them (1 for himself that he was not expecting me to pay). He did not ask for it but I paid for the 3. It's like I have to prove to him that I'm not a taker so I started recently to show what I give and give even more. I also offered him a beer tonight. I also donated $50 to the bar during COVID. So I wonder if he's not taking me for a sucker with deep pocket.

I invited him to board games and we had a lot of fun. We laugh a lot. We share many ideas and humour, etc. He offered me many shots.

However, I think he has something that he keeps against me and is not telling me. He's the one who gave me a discount for organising my birthday party at this bar.

There are 2 approaches to this I think:

  1. The indirect approach: I stop complimenting him, I behave higher power and high-warmth. I don't tip as much (since it seems he does not register that I do and maybe I'm in the negative in his social bank account for a reason I don't understand. I won't make him notice when I pay because it will make it look like I'm a bean counter
  2. The direct approach: the one I am thinking about doing. At my birthday, I take him aside and tell him what I said above. We settle our social bank accounts this way. I won't put him in the judge role: "you seem angry, etc." like I have to please him but rather focus on the situation: "I wonder if there was something that happened that I'm not aware of" to retain my power.

So in summary: despite our friendship, I feel like I've been giving him too much power. I think he does not value me as he should so it became a bit asymmetrical in his environment (the bar), he does not look so happy to see me anymore, I think he feels like I'm a taker and/or has a bit of racist in him. I always treat him right, alway complimented him and brought him many clients over the past years. So I think he got plenty of value from me. I'm organising a party at his bar with 30 people.

So I don't think there are facts for me to be a taker in this situation.

I'll give an example: last week he put some food on the bar and I felt it was not for me. So I asked if I could take some. He said: "Well, it's on the bar, so..." which kind of confirmed what I thought. He later "joked" as if I was a freeloader. I laughed along in an effort to neutralise the relationship (was not a smart move).

So I'm not sure if I should be vulnerable (my preferred approach) or just change my whole attitude to higher power high warmth until we are more equals.

I like him so I take responsibility for this situation. He also has his responsibility however I want to do my part.

What do you guys think?

Lucio Buffalmano has reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmano

That seems a good analysis, John.

From the outside, it's difficult to give specific advice, but reading your post it seems that the situation has been read with great (power) awareness, so it's very possible that you've correctly assessed it, plus with a very empowered, realistic, "mature", and can-do attitude, which sets you up for better solutions.

The one thing I feel to say is this.

If you decide to go for straight talk, don't have that talk on your birthday.

Not because there's anything inherently wrong with the day, but because of general strategy:

If it goes well, you gain just a bit.
And if it doesn't go well, it may sour things on your party (he may turn out to be thin-skinned, or he may simply deny ot refuse to own up, or simply not understand).

How would you feel then?
He's also still the "owner" of the venue, which gives him some leverage on you.

Maybe you can do it and be super cool whatever happens.

But what if it doesn't go well and it spoils your mood?
On your day, on your party?

Nah, better to go with your indirect approach on your birthday, and may be go direct on any other random day.

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

Hello Lucio,

I want to thank you very much for the quick and thoughtful answer. I think your advice is spot-on!

You helped me think about the right setting. I should go and have a beer with him outside the bar.

I propose him to get a coffee or something. I get to know him better and strengthen the relationship and after 30 min or 1 hour of talking, I bring up the subject with the (real) frame: "Because I care about you (the getting to know him part) I want to improve our relationship".

So now I have a plan, thank you very much!

I wish you a great Thursday!


Lucio Buffalmano has reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmano

Sounds like a great approach, John.

Let us know how it goes.

John Freeman has reacted to this post.
John Freeman
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Well, actually it's solved magically itself.

Since I wrote this he became much warmer and it seems like whatever it was, it's in the past now.

Maybe it has anything to do with the party, who knows? Anyway I'm not going to create a problem that does not exist anymore and bring it back on the table.

Thanks anyway, it was very useful and I'll keep this strategy in mind, definitely!

The new big boss

So I had a meeting with the new head of paediatrics, a Professor. All lights are green: he's open, positive, creative, a thinker + a doer, solution-oriented, available, direct communication, concrete thinker, goes on the field to see how things are and meets his counterparts from the other (previous enemy) university hospital from the neighbouring city. He collaborates with them and exchanges ideas and resources with them, after already 2 months. He's the kind of leader we were waiting for. Not a messiah but a solid guy.

I presented to him our committee, its history, the current projects, next projects and next meetings.

He gave us tons of input, accepted one idea that is going to be implemented right away.

During the meeting he put on the table the idea that he would benefit from the residents evaluating the units they're rotating it. 

I had the same idea and I was keeping it for a later stage.

So I answered him:

Me: We had the same idea and were going to keep it for a later stage. I want to answer to you as you answered me about this point where you said this was going to be implemented right away. I commit to do the same for this and we will come back to you.

I make this project now our priority.


To do this properly, the residents will have to evaluate the units anonymously. He wants a database so he can confronts what is being said to him by the units' leaders with what the residents have to say about their experience. He needs this data to "drive" the service. Of course, we'll set up a process to send him every 6 months the results. I'll also inform the units' leaders that now they're going to be evaluated by residents. I will validate the email with him before sending it first.

My goal is to protect their identity and therefore their careers. That is what is at stake, at this hospital anyway.

I'm going to send them a form to fill and answer and send anonymously. They can send it by mail or by e-mail. I will guarantee their anonymity and therefore their careers.

I will print them so there is no electronic trace of it. I will then make a binder with all the answer and say:

Me (giving it to him): As promised. The only thing we ask in return is for this binder to remain anonymous. I committed myself to the residents that it will be the case. Could you give me your word, please Professor? It's important to them.

What do you guys think? Do you guys think it's enough precautions to protect residents or that it is a risky move. 

I'm now on a new level of politics with more things at stakes and I don't want to fuck this up for them. I'm aware this is all new to me. I've worked at this level of politics but not with kind of stakes.

As I said earlier: I trust the guy. He wants to make a good service out of the mess he was left with. He seems like an giver/enlightened collaborator. He's going to take our inputs from the meeting we had today and ask the units' leaders:

Him: so what do you offer our residents? (In terms of training and coaching)

If they don't meet the standards of training and coaching, they will not get any resident to assist them in their work. So he means business.


PS: now that I sent the email (with the added punch of 85 residents), everyone's nicer to me now. Also, one unit's leader smiled to me and waved to me today whereas before that was not the case. We had a good relationship, now it seems like he's seeing an old friend hahaha. Long story short, I had to fight (argue on the phone) with the gatekeeper (the head of communications) to have the email sent. It worked. I'm not going to go in the details now. Later, maybe.

Lucio Buffalmano has reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmano

My personal thinking on this is: especially after learning from my past and from TPM, I would probably not participate in an anonymous evaluation of my employer.

Of course I don't know the details of the situation, so I may be wrong here.

But to me these "anonymous surveys" seem to simply present so many downsides, and so little upsides, that I would probably just not participate.

Elaborating a bit on this: if the system makes it absolutely impossible for anybody to know who sent in the form, risks may be low enough to ensure anonimity.

If, on the other hand the content of the binder can be used to trace back to the senders, then I would still think risks outweigh pros.

Also: I don't know the culture enough to understand if being the potential "bearer of bad news" is something that could result in backlash here. But I would still be very cautious.

Unless of course the forms only contain positive items and no potentially damaging evaluation can be made. Which could even be a way to proceed with this in a machiavellian - but much safer - way.

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