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Personal case study:Being labeled as Machiavellian (Failure to refute frame)

Hey guys,I thought it'd be interesting to share a breakdown of a recent group conversation where I'm framed as a manipulator.

Context:We were having an online group call and were describing each others personality.

Analysis:

A: Your're controlling because you learn power dynamics →frames me as manipulator

B:Have you manipulated me?→Forces me justify myself

Me: Of course not,I would never do that→Pushes me to deny

C:Wait, isn't that a manipulator would say?→Destroys my frame with humour

Me:laughs (along with the entire group)→By laughing,I confirmed the frame

Results:Lead to some social damage in regards to reputation

What I could have done better:

  • Address the issue at root to prevent escalation and cementation of the frame that I'm a manipulator(negative passive value label)
    • Could have stated "I think to some extent everyone manipulates"→accepting frame as a collective
      • Provide further relevant examples to solidify my point

    On a personal note: It kinda felt like a dumb reason to be labeled as 'controlling' just because I was learning power dynamics.

    Anyways, What do you guys think?

 

Edit:Typos

Lucio Buffalmano and Matthew Whitewood have reacted to this post.
Lucio BuffalmanoMatthew Whitewood

Thank you for sharing this, Dre!

Super interesting case study, first time we see something similar.

I think this is important for people who are learning power dynamics and persuasion.
Eventually you can meet someone who will tell you that you're being Machiavellian / controlling / manipulating.

So before I give my take on this...

How would other members here have answered this?

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

I think one could say something that disputes the false implication.
Learning dynamics => Controlling

Him: You're controlling because you learn power dynamics

You: That's like saying people who learn martial arts beat people up.

If he asks whether you are manipulating him, ask him back a question

Him: Have you manipulated me?

You: Why do you feel that way?

Him: You are learning about manipulation

You: Do people who learn martial arts go around beating people up?

Him: No

You: Yeah my point exactly.
Learning about manipulation is self-defence in the social realm.

I think asking questions is a good way to challenge people's frames.

One could say it's a surfacing/uncovering technique, especially if people want to corner you with manipulative, covert frames.

Dre has reacted to this post.
Dre

Thanks for the feedback!

 

I think the conclusion that I have come to, is that it would be better for me to hide my cards (that I'm learning power dynamics) as it can easily lead to misunderstandings or false labels.

First rule of Fight Club...

You could have turned it back on him.

"Actually i'm just learning how to spot manipulation...."

Depends how much of a dick he was being in the rest of the convo

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Lucio BuffalmanoDre
Quote from Dre on August 12, 2021, 4:07 am

I think the conclusion that I have come to, is that it would be better for me to hide my cards (that I'm learning power dynamics) as it can easily lead to misunderstandings or false labels.

That, OR, it's a great test to see who's made of what.

The are the neutrals: they will make little of it -sometimes because they fail to realize the benefits of the skills-.

The negatives:

  • Frenemies
  • (Secretly) competitive
  • Insecure

Will see it as a threat, and act as a consequence.

And the positives:

  • Supportive
  • Open-minded
  • Growth-oriented
  • Secure

They will see it as an opportunity to learn, and/or glad that one of their allies is empowering himself, because that's better for him as well.

Of course, depending on where you stand, group 1 might heavily outnumber group 2.
So yes, it might information that you want to divulge more selectively and/or strategically.

Dre has reacted to this post.
Dre
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?
Quote from Transitioned on August 12, 2021, 5:10 am

First rule of Fight Club...

You could have turned it back on him.

"Actually i'm just learning how to spot manipulation...."

Depends how much of a dick he was being in the rest of the convo

Yes, it's a great one.

And then you can also go meta:

And what you've just done here, is to try to frame me negatively and push me down. Frankly man, one of the things I also learned, is that secure and supportive people don't really do that.
(you can stop here already, or go on)
And I expect better from you (power-up judge)

Denial & Defensiveness

As a rule of thumb, denials (without counterattacks) and justifications put you in the defender position.

Not a good place to be in.

The defender position gives its flank. And can only hope that he can parry all strikes, or that the attackers will be kind enough -and you usually don't put your fate in someone else's hands-.

The defender, at best, can end in a draw.

But sometimes we can all end up there.
Some ways you could have handled it:

Normalization + Frame Flipping

This is what you mentioned.

To say that, to some extent, everyone manipulates.

Then you could have taken the "self-defense" angle, such as that learning manipulation enables you to go spot manipulation and manipulators, and that's a badly needed skill in life.

Then you could have ended with a smart-ass quote, something like: "going through life believing that nobody tries to take advantage of you is like being a lamb who doesn't believe wolves exist".
That's an implied frame-flipping: they are being silly for not learning, not you.

Assertiveness

B., when you joke that I manipulated you, it frames me in a highly negative light, and as someone I am not. And that offends me.

Drop it then, let them justify.

Surfacing

Wait, I want to understand better, how does learning power dynamics make one controlling

A common mistake here would be to justify right away.

But if you justify at the first mention on anything, on something that's not even clear, it sub-communicates that, deep down, you probably think it's true.

Instead, let them explain why.

This isn't necessarily about winning, by the way.
You can do it with an open mind.
And in the end, if they make a good point, you might even (partially) agree and thank them for the feedback.

And you can still, at the same time, hold on to your stance that learning power dynamics is a good thing.

The Mental Side

Much of this is rooted in the mental beliefs and convictions.

If you truly believe that power dynamics is a good thing to learn and can be used for good purposes -a true statement-, then your frame will naturally be 10x stronger.

And you'll be mentally more resilient as well.

Even if you "lose", you won't think that "damn, they got me", but you'll think "these guys are clueless".

Which leads us to:

The judge counterattack

Think of the roots of this exchange.

The roots are based on "being good (enough), or not being good (enough)".

That's judge role.

So one way to answer that was to refuse their judge-based attack, dig your heels and judge back.

Your dee-seated frame would have been "I'm right and good to learn power dynamics. You guys are wrong and naive. To be good, you NEED to learn how to be bad. Your way of being good isn't good, it's naive and weak".

Now that's true root-level power.
Once you hold that judge frame, you can pick any approach, and you'll most likely own the situation.

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

Thanks again guys for the gold!

I think I'll need to start applying the theories rather than passively read them and adapt to them to the situation at hand.Will definitely update to this forum if a similar situation occurs or if I decide to screen for allies by disclosing that I'm learning power dynamics!

 

Quote from Dre on August 12, 2021, 9:16 am

Thanks again guys for the gold!

I think I'll need to start applying the theories rather than passively read them and adapt to them to the situation at hand.

Yes, that's a good idea :).

I'm planning to add to PU some end-of-module (PDF) exercises to increase and facilitate follow-through.

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Dre
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?
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