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The self-accusatory power move: putting you on the defensive without dealing with your issue

I take this example from the wonderful book "Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office", and slightly edit it to make a better point:

EMPLOYEE: It’s been two years since I’ve had a raise and I’d like to talk to you about why I think I deserve one.
HR MANAGER: Are you accusing me of overlooking your well-being? (typical start of the self-accuratory power move: you didn't accuse him of anything, he's making that up to push you on the defensive)
EMPLOYEE: No, I’m not accusing you of anything
HR MANAGER: Well, you obviously think there’s a problem (tries to frame you as a trouble-maker looking for excuses to complain)
EMPLOYEE: I don't think there is a generalized problem and I’m not blaming you, I'm discussing my specific case
HR MANAGER: We have a system in place that ensures our staff is fairly treated
EMPLOYEE: That's cool. And yet, if I haven’t gotten a raise, then the system hasn't been working in my specific case. Try to put yourself in my shoes: I've been doing great work, for two years, and I think it's fair to discuss a raise
HR MANAGER: Now you’re saying I don’t see the problem (again, self-accusatory power move)

The trick here is to put you on the defensive while at the same time sidestepping the issue and sidetracking the conversation.

If they do it well and long enough, you will waste energy defending, you will feel like you are being too aggressive, and you will end up dropping your demands for what can be a fair request or complaint.

How do you handle this?
When they accuse you, you want to address it, but immediately revert back to the main topic.
Like this:

EMPLOYEE: It’s been two years since I’ve had a raise and I’d like to talk to you about why I think I deserve one.
HR MANAGER: Are you accusing me of overlooking your well-being?
EMPLOYEE: Not at all, I'm here to discuss about a payrise, which I think is fair to receive after two years of good work
HR MANAGER: Well, you obviously think there’s a problem.
EMPLOYEE: I'm not sure about that (sidesteps), I'm here to discuss about payrise, which I think is a fair request
HR MANAGER: We have a system in place that ensures our staff is fairly treated.
EMPLOYEE: That's great to hear, because after two years I think it's fair to get a payrise and I'm here to discuss that with you

You never allow the accusations to sidetrack you.
You quickly address, just so that he can't also accuse you of not hearing him, and then you immediately move back to the issue you want to talk about.

Transitioned, Bel and 2 other users have reacted to this post.
TransitionedBelRobertoPerfect Circle
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