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(Social Blunder + Recovery) Accept that compliment, or you disempower the complimenter

You can disregard the content, just focus on frame control and power dynamics:

Ben: uuuh, I disagree with you a little bit (and then proceeds to compliment Charlie on being a great thinker)
Charlie: (keeps it cool, but doesn't accept Ben's compliment)
Ben: (insists on compliment, tries to re-empower himself)
Charlie: (denies)
Ben: that's what I'm saying, that's what I'm saying (insists on his compliment / frame, he's probably thinking "why the hell can't he accept a compliment, I'm giving value")
Charlie: (rejects again)
Ben: sure, sure, but (insists again)

I think Charlie:

  1. Was so passionate about the topic that he prioritizes truth over rapport, a fair approach
  2. Reacted viscerally to Ben initial "uuuh, I disagree": in my opinion, uncalled for, Ben took steps to power protect by saying "a little bit" + re-empowering him with compliments/admiration

The two are close enough that they can allow these frame battles from time to time while still remaining plenty in the positives.

That's one of the advantages of an established win-win, collaborative relationship: situations like this one barely register in the overall win-win (but still, better be careful you don't have too many of those).


Charlie: (allows Ben to express himself, finally doesn't reject off the cuff, says "I understand what you're saying" and "I agree", thus saving Ben's face)

Only after Charlie accepts Ben's compliment they can finally resume the discussion.

Such as, before getting into an ego-free discussion about what's true, they first had to fix the power issue.

Note: Charlie & Ben Are Cool

I'm going to use several examples from their podcast.

It's not because there is lots of material for mistakes, quite the opposite: since these two guys are good, with the mistake there is often a great response from the other and/or a great recovery:

  1. Mistake
  2. Response from the other and/or (Ben for example acted correctly to avoid losing too much power)
  3. Recovery

And the only reason why I've got examples from them is because it has become my favorite podcast to watch while eating.
So most of my current recorded real-life examples now come from their show.

And since they're both advanced and friends, there is lots to learn from the dynamics of win-win.

Added that Charlie might have misread Ben's initial "uuuh, I disagree" as a disempowering frame.

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Any quick fix you can think of that would have prevented that frame battle?

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

I think for Ben, he could say

Ben: (compliments Charlie on being a great thinker)

Charlie: (rejects compliment, disempowers Ben)

Ben: I like how you don't accept the compliment at face value.
You give a balanced perspective.

Ben goes for frame imposing when someone doesn't accept the frame.
Usually, not very effective.

He can give another compliment that aligns with how Charlie perceives himself.
More towards how he like diving for the truth.

Forcing people to accept compliments may hinder deeper connection sometimes.
Especially if it doesn't really align with their self-image.

If Charlie didn't agree with the compliment, he could have agreed & re-direct:

Ben: (compliments Charlie on being a great thinker)

Charlie: Thanks, I am lucky.
I have this psychology make-up.

This shows that he appreciates the intention of Ben, giving a value-adding compliment.
At the same time, it allows him to continue expressing himself.

Relate & Compliment Rather Than an Observing, Judging Compliment

Ben keeps giving compliments about Charlie by talking about Charlie without him in the picture.
That may come across as an observer judging someone's behaviour.
I suspect that may be why Charlie wants to voice his own perspective.

I don't think that is inherently bad or good.
Because sometimes taking yourself out of the picture helps you to give more objective feedback.

However, if Ben wants Charlie to support his compliment, he should say something that relates to him.
Something like:

Ben: I like how you put aside personal preferences to give a balanced perspective.
That encourages me do the same.


Ben: I often gain new ways of thinking in a balanced manner when talking to you.

Sounds more personal, relatable, collaborative and builds rapport.
Also, this shifts the implicit frame of pure, objective discussion to some rapport building.

Lucio Buffalmano and Growfast have reacted to this post.
Lucio BuffalmanoGrowfast

Good points, Matthew.

What Charlie could have also said to smoothen over the social flow:

Charlie: Thanks, man, I appreciate it. And where I feel I can also do better... (and moves to where he feels he's lacking)

Quicker version:

Charlie: Thanks, man! And yet, even I...

Or to validate Ben's point:

Charlie: Indeed, modesty aside for one second, compared to the average population that might be true. Just to be sure, I'm no savant, and... (now goes deeper to where he feels he's lacking)

With any of these, Ben wouldn't have felt the need to defend his power, status, and judgment, and they could have moved on much quicker.

Matthew Whitewood and Growfast have reacted to this post.
Matthew WhitewoodGrowfast
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?