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My Journey to Power

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Another one that I just experienced that I think is full of teachings

On WhatsApp a friend (psychiatry resident) of mine to "have some news from me". Being busy I don't answer. In the evening he tells me:

Him: I'm so happy I'm getting along so well with my supervisors now (so he was not really texting to have some news from me.

Me: Yes!

Him (saying more things about how he's doing well): blablabla

Me (complimenting back and Forth on several messages): blablabla

Me: Next level

Him: Of confidence

Him: Yes

Him: 🙂

Me: So good!

Him: Yep

Him: Any good surprises on your side these days? (frame: is your life as good as mine? one-up power move)

Me (seeing the power move): Yes! Everyday! (one-upping back)

Him: Top!

Me: Yep!

Me (I thought about it and thought maybe I was too reactive, let's give him a chance): I correct: things are going pretty good on my side, thanks 🙂 (going collaborative)

Him: That's already something haha (one-upping again)

Me: exactly (going with the frame that my life is good)

Me (after some thoughts, going assertive): I prefer not to compare one another. That leads to a competition otherwise 🙂

Him (taking the philosopher's frame): Everyone has a different life anyway. So it's not a good mentality to have (stealing my frame and confirming that he has it better than me since it frames me as avoiding the topic).

Me (going collaborative): Yes!

So this is one again a common power move in insecure people: I have this great thing going on! You?

I was right when I spotted the power move. I've been too nice in giving him the benefit of the doubt as he went on top in the end. He got validation from me and the upper hand. I gathered good intel as I could see that when I gave power he took it.

Next time:

I will not compliment him as much and will be aware that he's seeking validation on top of feeling superior. I will give him his validation but not too much. I will use a philosopher frame right away:

Him: Any good surprises on your side these days? (frame: is your life as good as mine? one-up power move)

Me (seeing the power move): Life is full of good surprises everyday 🙂

That would neutralise the competitive frame and let us move on to another topic.

Some might ask: why did not you answer what was going on in your life?

Answer: it would have set him up as the judge as we would now compare what is happening my life with what is happening in his life:

Him: Any good surprises on your side these days? (frame: is your life as good as mine? one-up power move)

Me: Yes, I have this going on and this....

Him: that's good (now he's the judge)

Quote from John Freeman on June 22, 2022, 7:17 pm

Hello guys,

here is the power move of the day:

When we kick you out!

I was at a break with a male nurse of emergency (the "champion"). At 6pm we're supposed to leave the office to another more experienced paediatrician in a private office.

Him: ... when we kick you (plural) out of the office.

The frame is: "you're not welcome and we need the room for someone more important than you"

Next time

Him: ... when I kick you (plural) out...

Me: Now I know that we're supposed to leave the room at 6pm. However, there's always one free room.

In this answer, I'm not going confrontational, I'm staying professional but still reframing it as "I'm following the hospital rule, not you "kicking me out"". After 2 months, I noticed that some nurses see that I'm still working tell me: "it's ok, the other room is free". However assholes say: "you have to go at 6pm" using the little power they have.

He also talked about our overtime. Since sometimes we stay later to finish some admin. He used it to frame it as "ineffective/beginner". I answered that at the beginning it's normal. So basically, these people go day after day after day, year after year, pulling the same power moves on resident physicians at each rotations just to make themselves feel better and look better in front of their colleagues.

Now that I have some distance on it, it's actually quite pathetic and small-pond thinking.

Yeah, it's a good one.

And it's always a telling red flag when people choose to use power-taking language.

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?
Quote from John Freeman on June 22, 2022, 9:10 pm

Him: I'm so happy I'm getting along so well with my supervisors now (so he was not really texting to have some news from me.

Me: Yes!

Him (saying more things about how he's doing well): blablabla

Me (complimenting back and Forth on several messages): blablabla

Me: Next level

Him: Of confidence

Him: Yes

Him: 🙂

Me: So good!

Him: Yep

Him: Any good surprises on your side these days? (frame: is your life as good as mine? one-up power move)

Me (seeing the power move): Yes! Everyday! (one-upping back)

Him: Top!

Me: Yep!

Me (I thought about it and thought maybe I was too reactive, let's give him a chance): I correct: things are going pretty good on my side, thanks 🙂 (going collaborative)

Him: That's already something haha (one-upping again)

Me: exactly (going with the frame that my life is good)

Me (after some thoughts, going assertive): I prefer not to compare one another. That leads to a competition otherwise 🙂

Him (taking the philosopher's frame): Everyone has a different life anyway. So it's not a good mentality to have (stealing my frame and confirming that he has it better than me since it frames me as avoiding the topic).

Me (going collaborative): Yes!

You know the backstory on this far better, John, and mine is only an external opinion from reading a few lines.

But that part in bold felt a huge jump to me.
If you wanted to go that strong, you should have surfaced or addressed the comparison power moves. But like that, it feels like you had this in your head, and projected it into him / the conversation.

As an external reader, I didn't see much one-upping in those texts from him, just a guy who gets easily carried away and emotional, and probably enjoys some bragging and likes to (over)share the good news (not someone I'd be texting too often TBH 🙂 ).
It seemed like a good supportive conversation mostly: him sharing the good news, and you providing a sounding board.

And I didn't necessarily see a comparison-power move when he asked you about your life.

Again, you know the situation better: I'm reading his messages as if it were a "normal guy", not an eagle, neither an asshole.
If he's an annoying power mover, you know better.
Still, even in that case, I think smoother transitions would have helped.

Edit:
Happy to hear more thoughts on this, both from you and others.

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

My thinking on the interaction:

- the reason why John didn’t answer the first message seems to show he already knew the guy would be constantly one-upping and was obnoxious

- still, the bragging/joking frame the other guy started made it difficult to respond other than with humor

- the top-up by John here

Him: Any good surprises on your side these days? (frame: is your life as good as mine? one-up power move)

Me (seeing the power move): Yes! Everyday! (one-upping back)

Him: Top!

Me: Yep!

was good: it framed John both as interactive, less invested, and higher power.

Because while the other guy was openly stating what good news had happened to him, John limited himself to saying “Yeah, it’s not like you’re the only one who’s well”.

And John’s answer was still within the joking frame.

It could have ended there.

Then this

Me (I thought about it and thought maybe I was too reactive, let's give him a chance): I correct: things are going pretty good on my side, thanks 🙂 (going collaborative)

Him: That's already something haha (one-upping again)

Me: exactly (going with the frame that my life is good)

Me (after some thoughts, going assertive): I prefer not to compare one another. That leads to a competition otherwise 🙂

to me as an external observer, feels like a series of one-downs.

The first was in “correcting” the joking message. It subcommunicates not being confident in one-upping the other guy like he had been doing all along.

And the final “assertive statement”, said at that moment, feels also a way to compensate for having “lost” the one-up frame. A bit like saying “I don’t like the game we are playing”, but after having played it.

If you had said it as soon as he suggested a comparison with you, the subcommunication would have been stronger and more powerful.

Him: Any good surprises on your side these days?

You: Hey, after you told me about your unending successes, it feels like you are trying to enter into a competition with me here

You: And I don’t want you to feel bad 🙂

Another take based on the zero investment technique:

Him: Any good surprises on your side these days?

You: Nah, just trying to find a way to scrounge some food and money to survive another day here 🙂

Lucio Buffalmano and John Freeman have reacted to this post.
Lucio BuffalmanoJohn Freeman

Awesome post, Bel.

We don't fully agree on something very common: I tend to read more neutrality and grant more benefit of the doubt (and I may be wrong), while you seem to default more to "bad intentions" (and may be right).
P.S.: the default starting point must not an issue as long as one adjusts going forward.

But besides that, it's an awesome analysis, and fully agree on the "one-down on his own previous message" and compensation on adding a follow-up text (too high investment).

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

Thanks guys, yes with him he can boast.

I like Lucio’s reading because it helps me to see it from a different perspective.

However in this interaction I felt something was off. So it’s less in the words than in the feeling.

I think Bel’s analysis is spot on in this case.

That’s exactly how I felt about the interaction.

If he would have said “and what about you?” It would have been more like he’s really interested about how I’m doing.

However it started with him contacting me about how I am but then it went all about him. You guys did not see but in the “blabla” (too long to write) I gave him five compliments. So I already went

With him often times there is a power move element in his messages. Hence my reaction. Last Time I sent him a few articles useful for him. Instead of thanking me he went for a judge power move: "Tip top (Swiss expression) your searches!" which i countered with "It was not too difficult. Cool if you find something in it 🙂 »

Another example of this kind of communication. Today N. sends me a text with him as a speaker at a conference: « me at the Swiss radiology conference ».

Which I responded to with a low effort validation: a thumbs up on his picture.

So it is when it’s not about sharing one’s experience but more: look at me how cool I am. I’m all for sharing my friends successes (5 compliments) but it feels like a one-up when the subtext feels « Look how better than you I am ».

So these are 2 guys with whom it feels like sharing their successes in the end feels like having value taken from me.

So now I’m more careful.

Another example still with N. We were having a drink and he says that now that we are in our thirties we are like 20 years old blondes but as guys. He says he does not need Tinder now because he has an abundance of women. He says it’s cool that we all have an abundance of women. Well that’s a one-up because he knows I’m not in my thirties anymore and he knows I do not have an abundance of women.

So all these interactions have the same feel to me: someone rubbing their success in your face.

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Lucio BuffalmanoBel

All that being said it might still be in my head and I might have projected on him.

I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt next time in the situation and see where it goes.

However I’m not very optimistic.

Lucio Buffalmano has reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmano
Quote from John Freeman on June 23, 2022, 8:32 pm

All that being said it might still be in my head and I might have projected on him.

I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt next time in the situation and see where it goes.

However I’m not very optimistic.

Probably not necessary, my comment was exclusively for that single exchange.

You know the background better and, as you add more details, it seems like he is a game-playing turkey (also, that idea that guys in their 30s are like hot women is BS, unless a guy becomes famous and/or he's extremely attractive and/or he can get people or a system going where girls come to him, he always has to put in the work).

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Thank you. To clarify: A. did the power moves with the “good surprises” and the articles I sent him. N. did the other power moves. They have in common to pull the same kind boasting power moves and generally try to one-up me when the opportunity arises.

I organized a game at a friend’s place and I did not win.

I learned a lot during this game. Especially that I lost a lot of confidence. The professional life is so important (to me) that it gives me or take me my confidence. This exam hit hard and my challenging job is actually taking a toll on me. Instead of giving me the confidence that I’m doing something challenging.

I learned that people are really selfish and that if you don’t match their selfishness, you’re a sucker.

I improved at the game which is a game of political manipulation ie power.

However I could see that confidence is king. I have a friend who was jobless for a long time and now works as a glass repair helper. However he’s more confident than me. Now I can make the separation. I don’t know if he feels good about him but still. So in the group even though I bought the game and I’ve been organizing games since a year I feel that my status is also depending on how well I do in the game.

Status is not everything and I’m focussing on learning. However, I feel like I’m at a phase where my friend who played many games at my place, made fun of me by saying that I prefer board games to pursuing women. Which was kind of true for a certain period and kind of hurt.

So it’s definitely true that it’s about the WIIFM. The value you brought people is useless without power, at least to claim respect and gratefulness. Even being an eagle I’m finding is not enough if you don’t defend properly against power moves.

So I’m finding that people around me are out there for them and that I’m still not selfish enough.

I’m now reading a book and doing hypnosis about self sabotage.

I must do the best for me. A friend of mine told me that I’m willing too much to compromise. And that is true. I could see that during the game I preferred to appease a friend than to care for my own interest. I also cared about my image as a honest player.

I’m still getting in my own way for now. But now I’m aware of it. As I wrote in my other posts I feel like I’m at the beginning of a new journey in self-development. I’m often thinking about my age and where I am in life. However it’s all about now, that’s all I have.

I’m thinking that I must develop my focus and memory more.

I’m thinking that I already went a long way.

I’m thinking that all I have is to change my mindset and actions.

I feel like my job has given me a lot but has taken so much as well.

I feel like I could have had a better life but wasted on YouTube. I feel like I can improve.

I  realized that you cannot be too vulnerable as Lucio said if you want to be in a leadership position. Or you can match the vulnerability of the other person. If the other person stays vague about their life, says a little bit of bad a little bit of good, just copy that. If you go deep about your personal issues when the person was sharing more superficially, you’re over sharing and taking value.

I’m proud of myself because I made huge progress in my life thanks to TPM.

I’m realizing now that to make further changes I will have to address all the stuff that I did not want to address until now: negative thoughts about myself and my abilities, the bad habits I postponed therefore once again the self-sabotage.

So after learning a lot about social power I have to go back to personal power: the control I have over myself.

It’s weird because sometimes I feel like I made so much progress: how I feel inside, how I deal with people, etc.

And at the same time sometimes I feel like I still am stuck.

Something important that I realized is that I was right: my friends are friends but not close friends. So it’s ok. I made a mistake and now I adjusted. That means we can have good times, we can philosophize I can share my challenges (not too much) but they still want to get on top.

I realized that personal challenges and difficulties are really to be shared 1-on-1. That’s the basic rule. Also I’m finding that it’s better to suffer in silence than to talk openly about your difficulties. It’s better to ask for feed-back to a friends or find a friend to vent. However just sharing what are your current challenges is often not helpful. People will think less of you if you are not close enough. Also it’s better to share your challenges after theirs. Finally some people are better or more willing to listen.

I built 2 groups of friends. I’m now expanding my social circle. However I feel that I have to change my mindset and habits so much. I’m ready and willing to do so. Actually I don’t give myself the choice this time.

I feel like I became much more eagle like. So much more to go still.

I’m the learner.

There is no way out of working my ass off. I must build a great life for myself. Nobody is going to do it for me. There’s no way out of working out, studying, approaching women, organizing events, I must go all out.

I feel like I recovered from the burnout a year ago so that’s a good thing.

However I feel like I lost my mojo and let people around me making me feel inferior. What we repeat (especially in our minds) become reality.

It’s like frames if we let it, it will cement a reality.

So many challenges to face. I used to love going all out. Aha moment: that’s the frame I’ve been missing: these are challenges and I actually love to face challenges.

On the positive side: I now have an inner emotional stability that I never had before. I think more clearly as well.

 

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Bel
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