In my last post I discussed a woman who asked me to introduce her friend to some “normal men” on account of the fact she had (by her friend’s own admission) strip-mined conventional dating sources of available men.
(It was floated in the comments that the woman may have been attempting to hit on me directly by flattering me as a source of dating advice; while that’s certainly a possibility, I am skeptical, because she was sitting next to her boyfriend and the hostess of the party was a woman I was dating.)
It’s not that I fault her for it, it seems to be a normal part of the young female mind-script to expect a “she had so much trouble dating the wronggggg men and then she just magically met this GREAT guy who made it allllll better!”kind of story to emerge in her social circle. What she and other women are going to be waking up to is that today’s (beta) men are growing less tolerant of cleaning up after a girl’s youthful indiscretions.
YOU’RE NOT SAYING WHAT YOU THINK YOU ARE SAYING
One point I drew attention to was that while she thought she was expressing “I have a single woman your friends might want a crack at,” what she was actually communicating was “my friend is a hot mess and I’m useless as a yenta, will you please help me save her bacon?” She’d effectively disqualified herself and her friend.
In my first job, my boss taught me a ridiculously useful way of evaluating my and others’ workplace actions: “you always need to look at what you’re communicating.” In truth, he was teaching me the concept of frame management, filtered through the corporate survival game. Frame is a critical social dynamics concept, the art of managing how you are presenting yourself and a situation when interacting with others, with a particular bent towards social positioning.
At the time I was boning up on game for the first time, and the relationship between the two was lock and key.
Humans, men especially, tend to overrate the importance of logical integrity and congruence when arguing and persuading others. The truth is that winning friends and influencing people requires so often that we induce or negotiate feelings within people, ahead of presenting them with logically sound arguments. Vox Day has termed this dichotomy “rhetoric” (the former) and “logic” (the latter). (It’s a bit like the Oprah-esque aphorism “people won’t remember what you do, they’ll remember how you make them feel – an important game lesson, incidentally.)
The impetus for my boss’ communication discussion was one coworker or another who had pissed off a client – not by delivering a bad product, but by constructing her response to a client request in a frame that said “I know what you need better than you do.” The client was a high-expectation yet easygoing character, who had plenty of patience for an honest mistake or an earnest counterarugment – but who was deeply put off by a brusque, arrogant response that said in so many words “I know better so why don’t you just shut up and listen to me.”
My boss’ point was that there’s much more to serving a client, customer, friend or partner than what you say and do – there’s a whole subtext of how you’ve framed the discussion, how you present the power balance and how you balance persuasion versus demand in the exchange.
Imagine a hypothetical example where you ask a pal for ten bucks to buy lunch. If you say “dude, I was hoping you could spot me a few bones? It’d be a big help, I’d really appreciate it,” you’re communicating a pre-emptive gratitude and deference to his voluntary charity. But if you say “hey man, how about ten bucks? I know you won’t even feel it,” you’re communicating a sense of entitlement, and an attitude that he’s got so much goddamn money you don’t even care if he sheds a few dollars and he shouldn’t either.
In both cases, you’re asking for exactly the same thing, but you’re creating a very different image of yourself in your friend’s mind.
Another example my boss liked to cite was conspicuous largesse or luxury in tough economic times – executive bonuses and resort conferences were brought up repeatedly. Regardless of the dollar amounts involved, any kind of “perking” when others are asked to go without communicates an air of elitism that is corrosive to a work team’s unity. Shrewd managers know how to put on an air of modesty that keeps the troops believing in cross-team empathy.
FRAME IN THE GAME
Some of the classic tactics of PUA game are based around communcation consciousness:
- Don’t answer text messages quickly – communicates that you have other higher priorities than chasing girls
- Don’t call on the phone often – communicates that your schedule is busy and your time well-spent
- Avoid dinner dates – communicates that you aren’t a bank provider and bankroller of her social life
- Be cool in the face of sexual rejection – communicates that sex is common for you and not a big deal
THE MIRROR STARES BACK HARD
When it comes to understanding what you’re communicating, a number of cognitive biases conspire to obscure the truth.
Solipsism (a self-referential perspective that paradoxically crowds out self-awareness) often blinds women to this process. There’s been a lot said about solipsism lately so I won’t rehash it, but it does tend to produce an acute lack of understanding about how your actions and words are being interpreted by others.
Conversely, men are often blind to what they are communicating due to male-typical tactic of not mincing words or dressing up talk with flowering indirect statement. What seems like a straightforward logical declaration can come across as a abrasive, disempathic personal attack. It’s not so much that men are unaware as they’ve decided (or been told) that the logical correctness of their words is all that should matter.
“Should” ain’t got nothing to do with it – we need to account for what we’re communicating, in all interactions, if we want to be persuasive and seductive.