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Using the judge role after good collaboration - "Appreciate your help!"

Hi guys,

Wanted to share this case study.

The situation is that I have one of my companies enrolled in the SBR (Small Business Reserve) to receive state contracts. And, I've just been told that I need to recertify.

Unluckily, I'm having trouble finding the application that I need to submit in order to maintain my enrollment. So, I reached out via email to an official who handles these things on behalf of the government.

1. Field Your Request

Looking back, perhaps an even better way to field that request would have been to signal a willingness to provide future value and empower them to say "no":

Ali: "Are you able to provide us with one? If so, that would be great (a little nudge to say yes because if you say "no", that wouldn't be great) and I'd be very grateful (and, as a result of my gratitude, happy to provide you with value in return at some point in the future). And, if not, no worries 🙂 (you have the power and freedom to decide).

Her response:

All good news :).

Step 2. Maintain a Collaborative Frame

My email back:

I lead with a "thank you" to let her know that the value she provided is appreciated (no credit-erasing here :). This also slightly encourages her to continue giving value in future exchanges since she knows her value and goodwill won't go unnoticed.

Then, in an effort to maintain a collaborative frame by continuing to give back, I provide her with a suggestion along with a link to a PDF of false instructions on how to recertify for SBR.

This value can be high-opacity, however, so I make sure to "make the value more real". I start by framing my suggestion as valuable to the people she's trying to serve first and then underline how the suggestion might be of value to her specifically.

This way, hopefully, my effort to make this even more of a win-win won't be credit-erased, ignored, or easily dismissed.

Step 3. See How They Respond To Your Collaborative Framing

Her response:

She starts by collecting social credit for the value she provided me (the link to the real recertification instructions), which, in my opinion, is great.

If it had been a case where I'm her boss, maybe instead of saying "you're welcome", she might have said, "No, thank you!" in response.

But, I'm not her boss. And, if in life she never collects social credit for the value she provides, it will be difficult for her to achieve forming high-quality connections with that social strategy because her social bank account would never go up (the cases where she collects social credit automatically being the exceptions). And, that means missed opportunities for collaboration. So, I'm glad she said "you're welcome".

She gives more value back in the form of gratitude with her "thank you" and then fields a request of her own:

Lisa: "...please let me know where that link is coming from..."

Unfortunately, I had already closed the tab where I got that link. So, it's not as simple as pulling up that tab, copy/pasting the URL into a reply email, and parting ways.

Without knowing it, she's now tasking me to go digging around the internet for a link that helps her, but what's in it for me? She didn't indicate any future value (i.e. saying she'd be grateful if I could) and she's already delivered all her value, so why should I spend my valuable time searching for the page this link is on? If I were the asshole type, I could easily say, "Isn't that your job?" And, correct me if I'm wrong, but you don't want to form a social strategy that makes it so easy for the other side to say that.

Not only that, she took away my freedom/power to decide. It felt like she gave me an order. A better way to do this might have been to say:

Lisa: "...If you want, you can let me know (gives me my power back) where that link is coming from and I'd be very grateful (even if this is more of a one-off interaction, signaling future value here would have been much more persuasive in getting me to carry out her task)..."

Then, to top it off, she pulls a covert judge power move by closing with, "I appreciate your help".

To recap, she's saying:

  1. I am supposed to help: it's an indirect form of tasking (power move).
    1. Plus, it tasks me with a guise of "professionalism", which puts more distance between me and her.
  2. I will displease her if I don't help: she appreciates me taking action for her — I make her happy, (a positive form of the judge) but, it also implies, she is also greatly displeased if I don't (negative judge).

So, I really wanted to help originally because I'm getting into the habit of providing value and creating more collaborative relationships and frames. Yet, when she puts all of these power dynamics into the mix, what is a collaborator to do?

My response:

Stef, you're awesome :).

Stef's suggestion as a response to this covert judge power move allows for another way to avoid taking their game lying down while still carrying out the task if you want to.

The same way "How can I help you?" is a covert power move in that it implies you need help, I lead into the email by assuming my value was valuable and went straight into claiming social credit for it: "Happy to help".

Then, I couldn't help but close with "hope this helps" which sort of undoes the social credit a bit since she now has the power to social credit-erase by acting entitled to the value. And, that's why I did it. The fact she gave me an order and then threw the "appreciate your help" right after made me wonder if she's the kind of person to act entitled to what I had just done for her.

So, out of curiosity (and looking for more experience in social exchanges), I closed with "hope this helps". Keep in mind, I likely lost a few social power points here for making this decision.

Her response exposes and illustrates the problem with taking the covert judge power move lightly.

If the judge role is similar to the parent role in the parent/child relationship of transactional analysis, then I've placed myself in the child role while she now has the parent role. That means that, in this interaction, she has unofficial authority over me. Of course, to avoid this, the best response on my end would have been to reject her task entirely.

The good news is, my decision was still a good one. I learned more about her—she's willing to operate within a collaborative frame (we can safely assume the silver medal technique will be very effective on her). And, in the future, she'll likely serve as a good contact when I need help, feedback, or favors when it comes to state contracts and my company in the SBR program.

Unluckily, forging this learning opportunity also means I finished one-down.

Yet, I also finished with a great case study and opportunity to learn. And, that's always a win in my book :).


Thanks again for the suggestions on the image editing software, Lucio. Very helpful.

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Hi Ali,

A few notes:

I agree with you that at point 3, she started switching a bit too much into tasking/expecting.

You suggest as a better way on her side

Lisa: "...If you want, you can let me know (gives me my power back) where that link is coming from and I'd be very grateful (even if this is more of a one-off interaction, signaling future value here would have been much more persuasive in getting me to carry out her task)..."

Yeah, correct.
Or just a tad more nudging/persuasive:

if you happen to still have that link, that'd be awesome.

TELL HER HOW TO ACCOMPLISH HER GOAL

When you told her "you're in my top priorities", it might have felt a bit odd since you two never met.

Usually, a person you've never met is not really in your list of priorities, albeit exceptions do apply (you know this exchange better than I do).

One option you had at that point was to be fully honest and say something like:

LOL, I'd love to do that, but I closed the tab now 🙂 (= too high investment now). Anyway, I found it when I googled X (tell her how to accomplish the task by herself). Dig around, maybe it will come up, and if I stumble on it again, I'll be happy to help 🙂 (ends up with collaboratio, saying that if something doesn't require you to bend over backwards, you're happy to help)


SHARING PICS

Awesome, small life-changer, right? Glad it was helpful :).

One more tip, you can zoom on the tab before snapping the picture, so characters are biggers and it's easier for people to read (the shortcut for zooming is "cntr +").

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Ali ScarlettMatthew Whitewood
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?
Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on December 30, 2020, 11:04 pm

Hi Ali,

A few notes:

I agree with you that at point 3, she started switching a bit too much into tasking/expecting.

You suggest as a better way on her side

Lisa: "...If you want, you can let me know (gives me my power back) where that link is coming from and I'd be very grateful (even if this is more of a one-off interaction, signaling future value here would have been much more persuasive in getting me to carry out her task)..."

Yeah, correct.
Or just a tad more nudging/persuasive:

if you happen to still have that link, that'd be awesome.

TELL HER HOW TO ACCOMPLISH HER GOAL

When you told her "you're in my top priorities", it might have felt a bit odd since you two never met.

Usually, a person you've never met is not really in your list of priorities, albeit exceptions do apply (you know this exchange better than I do).

One option you had at that point was to be fully honest and say something like:

LOL, I'd love to do that, but I closed the tab now ? (= too high investment now). Anyway, I found it when I googled X (tell her how to accomplish the task by herself). Dig around, maybe it will come up, and if I stumble on it again, I'll be happy to help ? (ends up with collaboratio, saying that if something doesn't require you to bend over backwards, you're happy to help)

I agree. Thanks for the feedback, Lucio!

Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on December 30, 2020, 11:04 pm

SHARING PICS

Awesome, small life-changer, right? Glad it was helpful :).

One more tip, you can zoom on the tab before snapping the picture, so characters are biggers and it's easier for people to read (the shortcut for zooming is "cntr +").

Awesome tip! I just tried it out and it's great, I'll definitely be using it in the future. Thanks again 🙂

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