Dark Arts: Defense in Reputational Warfare

by OrphanWilde3 min read3rd Dec 201570 comments

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First, the Dark Arts are, as the name implies, an art, not a science.  Likewise, defending against them is.  An artful attacker can utilize expected defenses against you; if you can be anticipated, you can be defeated.  The rules, therefore, are guidelines.  I'm going to stage the rules in a narrative form; they don't need to be, however, because life doesn't follow a narrative.  The narrative exists to give them context, to give the reader a sense of the purpose of each rule.

Rule #0: Never follow the rules if they would result in a worse outcome.  

 


 

Now, generally, the best defense is to never get attacked in the first place.  Security through obscurity is your first line of defense.  Translations of Sun Tzu vary somewhat, but your ideal form is to be formless, by which I mean, do not be a single point of attack, or defense.  If there's a mob in your vicinity, the ideal place is neither outside it, nor leading it, but a faceless stranger among it.  Even better is to be nowhere near a mob.  This is the fundamental basis of not being targeted; the other two rules derive from this one.

Rule #1: Do not stand out.

 

Sometimes you're picked out.  There's a balancing art with this next piece; you don't want to stand out, to be a point of attack, but if somebody is picking faces, you want to look slightly more dangerous than your neighbor, you want to look like a hard target.  (But not when somebody is looking for hard targets.  Obviously.)

Rule #2: Look like an unattractive target.

 

The third aspect of this is somewhat simpler, and I'll borrow the phrasing from HPMoR:

Rule #3: "I will not go around provoking strong, vicious enemies" - http://hpmor.com/chapter/19

 

The first triplet of rules, by and large, are about -not- being attacked in the first place.  These are starting points; Rule #1, for example, culminates in not existing at all.  You can't attack what doesn't exist.  Rule #1 is the fundamental strategy of Anonymous.  Rule #2 is about encouraging potential attackers to look elsewhere; Rule #1 is passive, and this is the passive-aggressive form of Rule #1.  It's the fundamental strategy of home security - why else do you think security companies put signs in the yard saying the house is protected?  Rule #3 is obvious.  Don't make enemies in the first place, and particularly don't make dangerous enemies.  It has critical importance beyond its obvious nature, however - enemies might not care if they get hurt in the process of hurting you.  That limits your strategies for dealing with them considerably.

 


 

You've messed up the first three rules.  You're under attack.  What now?  Manage the Fight.  Your attacker starts with the home field advantage - they attacked you under the terms they are most comfortable in.  Change the terms, immediately.  Do not concede that advantage.  Like Rule #1, Rule #4 is the basis of your First Response, and Rule #5 and Rule #6.  The simplest approach is the least obvious - immediate surrender, but on your terms.  If you're accused of something, admit to the weakest and least harmful version of that which is true (be specific, and deny as necessary), and say you're aware of your problem and working on improving.  This works regardless of whether there's an audience or not, but works best if there is an audience.

Rule #4: Change the terms of the fight to favor yourself, or disfavor your opponent.

 

Sometimes, the best response to an attack is no response at all.  Is anybody (important) going to take it seriously?  If not, then the very worst thing you can do is to respond, because that validates the attack.  If you do need to respond, respond as lightly as possible; do not respond as if the accusation is serious or matters, because that lends weight to the accusation.  If there's no audience, or a limited audience, responding gives your attacker an opportunity to continue the attack.  If there's a risk of them physically assaulting you, ignoring them is probably a bad idea; a polite non-response is ideal in that situation.  (For crowds that pose a risk of physically assault you... you need more rules than I'm going to write here.)

Rule #5: Use the minimum force necessary to respond.

 

It's tempting to attack back: Don't.  You're going to escalate the situation, and escalation is going to favor the person who is better at this; worse, in a public Dark Arts battle, even the better person is going to take some hits.  Nobody wins.  Instead, mine the battlefield, and make sure your opponent sees you mining the battlefield.  If you're accused of something, suggest that both you and your opponent know the accused thing isn't as uncommon as generally represented.  Hint at shared knowledge.  Make it clear you'll take them out with you.  If they're actually good at this, they'll get the hint.  (This is why it's critically important not to make enemies.  You really, really don't want somebody around who doesn't mind going down with you, and your use of this strategy becomes difficult.)

Rule #6: Make escalation prohibitively costly.

 

You might recognize some elements of martial arts here.  There are similarities, enough that one is useful to the other, but they are not the same.

 


 

You're in a fight, and your opponent is persistent, or you messed up and now things are serious.  What now?  First, continue to Manage the Fight.  Your goal now is to end the fight; the total damage you're going to suffer is a function of both the amplitude of escalation and the length of the fight.  You've failed to manage the amplitude; manage the length.

Rule #7: End fights fast.

 

At this point you've been reasonable and defensive, and that hasn't worked.  Now you need to go on the offensive.  Your defense should be light and easy, continuing to react with the lightest necessary touch, continuing to ignore anything you don't need to react to; your attack should be brutal, and put your opponent on the defensive immediately.  Attack them on the basis of their harassment of you, first, and then build up to any personal attacks you've been holding back on - your goal is to impart a tone of somebody who has been put-upon and had enough.

Rule #8: Hit hard.

 

And immediately stop.  If you've pulled off your counterattack right, they'll offer up defenses.  Just quit the battle.  Do not be tempted by a follow-up attack; you were angry, you vented your anger, you're done.  By not following up on the attack, by not attacking their defenses, you're leaving them no reasonable way to respond.  Any continuing attacks can be safely ignored; they will look completely pathetic going forward.

Rule #9: Recognize when you've won, and stop.

 

Defense follows different rules than attack.  In defense, you aren't trying to inflict wounds, you're trying to avoid them.  Ending the fight quickly is paramount to this.

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70 comments, sorted by Highlighting new comments since Today at 2:51 PM
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What evidence do you have for your advice working? If it does work, what are the odds of it working?

I'm wondering what your advice would be for the targets in this case.

1Gunnar_Zarncke5yRule #1. In some cases even #1 doesn't help but that is life. All strategies have weaknesses. If you defend against something you open other holes, take other risks and if by spending effort on the defense. Life is not fair.
0ChristianKl5yI don't think that case is about reputation. To solve it you need a good connection to the police and or a plan to get a company like Twitch investing serious resources into dealing with the issue.
2NancyLebovitz5yFair enough that the case isn't about reputation, or at least mostly not about reputation. As for involving the police, the article had quite a bit about how much trouble the police have dealing with swatting.
2OrphanWilde5yWarning: Grouchy libertarian response: If they have so much trouble with it, why don't they stop fucking doing it?
0gjm5yWarning: Obvious non-libertarian response: Because dealing with such things is part of their job, which (1) is valuable to society and (2) they are being paid to do in the expectation that they will, er, fucking do it. If someone is able to make it credibly appear to the emergency services that there is an ongoing emergency, they need to respond. That is, after all, much of the point of having emergency services. A more nuanced (and not particularly libertarian) version of your response is, I think, very reasonable: in some places, the US providing copious examples, the police are over-eager to respond to alleged emergencies with an immediate deployment of serious armed force, and are apt to be rather too trigger-happy when they do. It might be a very good idea for them to turn that down a few notches, in which case swatting would be less effective (hence maybe less tempting) and less likely to end in disaster. And maybe there are ways to verify reports more effectively without delaying rapid response when that's needed, though I'm not sure how. But that's an entirely different matter from just not responding to apparent emergencies with what you take to be an appropriate level of force.
3Lumifer5ySWAT teams are a new phenomenon and are just a highly visible tip of the militarisation of police. Why this is happening is a big discussion, but no, sending in wannabe spec-ops teams in full military gear to do ordinary arrests is not valuable to society and I don't think that the cops are (yet) expected to react with this amount of force. Looking at it from a bit different angle, the cops are just being gamed. They basically allow anyone with a modicum of acting ability to direct the SWAT teams. "But that's what we are paid to do" is not a good answer to being gamed and controlled.
1gjm5yAs you will see in, er, a first cousin of this comment, I think most of my disagreement here was a consequence of my having underestimated how badly messed up policing has become in the US.
0Lumifer5yIn case you're curious [http://www.amazon.com/Rise-Warrior-Cop-Militarization-Americas/dp/1610394577], that's what a "police" SWAT team looks like [http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/02541/BOSTON_BOMB3_2541703b.jpg].
1OrphanWilde5yThe issues are twofold: First, I don't think we'd disagree that a swat team is almost -never- an appropriate level of force. Second, anonymous phone calls are entirely insufficient evidence of an immediate emergency that would require that level of force.
0gjm5ySo, if all you're saying is: "The mere fact of a single anonymous phone call should not produce a response of indiscriminately applied overwhelming force": yup, I agree. If fixing that would be sufficient to make the swatting problem go away, then the problem is that I managed to underestimate the extent of the fucked-up-ness of the US police system. That wouldn't be a huge surprise, all things considered. (And, having now actually read the article, it really does seem as if a single anonymous phone call can have pretty much that effect. That seems really bad. But I guess I don't know what sort of real incidents SWAT teams are used to deal with; perhaps, at least in some places, it's justified. If so, the best answer might be to come down heavily enough on people who abuse that system to stop them doing it.)
1VoiceOfRa5yTo be fare, it's a phone call that purports to be from the house being SWATed. It's just really easy to spoof the phone system.
0OrphanWilde5yMy advice is for a slightly different style of conflict than existed there. As for evidence... I can't exactly provide case studies with control cases. I can only point to places where somebody violated the rules, and something bad happened. There, the issue is more straightforward: It's a blackmail game. Each step enables the next. The first mistake is always standing out; the local fame they develop makes them stand out, which makes them targetable. The second mistake is responding to the first blackmail attack, the DDoS, by adding them as a Skype friend. Then the requests escalate, and previous granted requests provide material for more transgressive requests (personal information obtained from Skype profiles can then be used to dox them, or to gain account access somewhere else, which can be used to blackmail for nude photographs, which can be used to blackmail for... whatever is next in his escalation scheme). It's an escalation game, and the sooner the participant gets out of it, the better off they'll be. So - reject the very first request. Don't agree to Skype him.
0Viliam5yThe specific examples could improve the article. Or distract from its general points to details of the specific cases.
0OrphanWilde5yMy experience with these matters is that specific examples only ever serve to distract.

This is a comparatively well written article and I think it would be upvoted if not for appearing somewhat dark at the end (rule #8). But I think this is part of life. I didn't learn that rule until late in life from others who had to learn in early - and for good measure. Weak forms of it can save your life in school apparently.

2VoiceOfRa5yI think it has the opposite problem. In today's climate it strikes me as not nearly aggressive enough to be effective.
1OrphanWilde5yIt is, I should note, a Defense article. I will not write an article on how to attack.
2VoiceOfRa5yThen why does it almost read like a surrender article?
-1OrphanWilde5yBecause you want to win the fight more than you want to win the war.

It's tempting to attack back: Don't. You're going to escalate the situation, and escalation is going to favor the person who is better at this; worse, in a public Dark Arts battle, even the better person is going to take some hits. Nobody wins.

That's not really true. Julian Blanc is a good example. He made the decision that it's useful to be world famous and it doesn't matter much what you are famous for. Then he did provocative things and contacted reporters. Afterwards he got attacked. He became world famous and his sales increased.

In Antifragile ... (read more)

2Luke_A_Somers5yI don't think this advice was aimed at people who immerse themselves in the dark arts.
2ChristianKl5yI don't think you need to engage actively in dark arts to be antifragile against a reputational attack. Believing that both sides always lose isn't useful. "Do not stand out." is advice that often does reduce the capability to defend yourself. The Chinese government doesn't disappear Ai Weiwei because he has a public profile and stands out. Less public dissidents have a worse fate in China.
2Lumifer5yI would probably formulate Rule #1 as "Do not be an identifiable target" ("the ideal form is to be formless").
1OrphanWilde5yThat isn't what I wrote. Ai Weiwei followed rule #2; he made himself a dangerous person to target. [ETA]He'll be in serious trouble, however, if somebody decides they want to make a very public example, because he's exceptionally public.[/ETA] The less public dissidents both stand out, and aren't dangerous to target. The least public dissidents aren't recognized enough to target in the first place.
1ChristianKl5yYou wrote: If you don't mean both parties lose, what does "Nobody wins" mean? It's much easier to attack a homosexual who's in the closet for his homosexuality than to attack a homosexual that's open about his sexuality. The same goes for many domains. Openness is often useful for having a defensible position and it does mean standing out.
-2OrphanWilde5yYour claim is specifically that I wrote that "both sides always lose". First, mind Rule #0, it trumps all other rules, and explicitly states that the advice can be wrong in any given situation. But beyond that, I didn't write that both sides always lose, I wrote that nobody wins IF you escalate the situation. False. I can stand out without being open, and I can be open without standing out.
-1ChristianKl5yNo, my claim was that you believe: "both sides always lose". To be exact my claim was even weaker. I claimed that it's not useful to believe "both sides always lose" without directly saying that you hold that belief. Yes, but you don't explain in your article the reasons behind your other rules to allow someone who hasn't already thought about the topics to know when to follow your advise. I think that for people in our community it makes more sense to want to be antifragile than trying to follow the maxi of "Do not stand out". Advice has to be judged by the likely effect of someone trying to follow the advise. When you say "be specific" when admitting wrongdoing you do reguritate knowledge that's widely accepted but you don't explain at all why it makes sense to be specific. You don't talk about how you can raise the complex of the story by being specific and thus make it harder for your audience to wrap their head around the story.
1OrphanWilde5yOk. I'm going to call that some of the most noxious weasel-wording I've come across in a while, without directly saying that you are engaging in weasel-wording. Antifragility requires personality traits that can't be readily learned, most important among them not caring what other people think about you. That's not the idea at all. The idea isn't to confuse your audience, the idea is to limit what your admission can be said to be admitting to.
-1ChristianKl5yYou are still wrong. I didn't write "you wrote both sides always lose" and I didn't meant to express that sentiment. It can't be learned by following ten simple rules but that doesn't mean that the philosophy can't be learned. Confusing isn't the right word but I have spoken to a politician who actually cares about reputation fights and they did consider raising complexity of the story to be part of the goal of adding a lot of details (being specific). To me what you write sounds like it's ivory tower thinking based on reading classics like Sun Tzu. I have read Sun Tzu but I also dealt seriously with the topic outside the ivory tower.
1OrphanWilde5yI don't think the philosophy -can- be learned, not by normal people. Not caring what other people think of you runs pretty deep. That is... situationally, good advice. There's considerable complexity to when it would be good advice, however, and misapplied or poorly implemented, you're going to be read as trying to cover over a lie, as that is a well-recognized tactic used by liars. I wouldn't give that advice to somebody who needed it. It is, to some extent, ivory tower thinking, in something the same way instructions on how to replace a doorframe are ivory tower thinking. Once you get into the real thing, and discover that you have a custom-built frame, or that for some bizarre reason there's plumbing running through the door jam, the instructions become more like general guidelines you refer to and keep in mind as you navigate the complexities of the specific situation at hand.
1ChristianKl5yThere aren't many normal people on LW. Many people here care about truth enough to leave Christianity at the cost of their family thinking badly about them. That doesn't mean that reputation doesn't matter, but it's worthwhile to understand where you make which trades. It's worth to be clear about who you want to impress and who you don't care to impress. That the road you go to becoming antifragile. As far as changing things that run deep, I have spent enough time with NLP trained people to know that those can be changed. Most people in the local NLP community in Berlin manage the relevant personality change. NLP doesn't to everything but as far as I observe it can change this parameter pretty reliably Yes, that's why it's useless to simple tell people to "be specific" the way you do above. Actually you did give the advice to "be specific" which is what the complaint is about. When taking advice on how to replace a doorframe I would seek it from people who actually have had experience with replacing doorframes and not from people who haven't. Guildelines on doorframe replacement by ivory tower folks are suboptimal.
1OrphanWilde5yHe backed down and issued public apologies, and has gone considerably quieter since then. Doesn't seem to me that he ended up where he wanted to. You might want to observe how she responded to attacks, as well. They wouldn't, for three reasons. First, by admitting to a weak version, you cut off the central controversy, making it no longer newsworthy. Second, by attacking somebody with an admitted problem, they look like aggressors going after a victim. Third, they feel like they've already won.
5VoiceOfRa5yThey will and have. Look what happened to Larry Summers, Brendan Eich, or James Watson. In all cases issuing an apology didn't help them and lead directly to resignations. Heck look at the reaction of the University protestors to admissions of guild and apologies on the part of university administrators. Heck look who Christakis's apology failed to stop the events.
0OrphanWilde5yAh. I see. I'm not advocating an apology; that is playing the game according to the rules your opponents have set. I'm advocating -redefining- the game by changing what it is you have to apologize for. An example that is now recognized as such, and thus is no longer useful, is apologizing for the way what you said was received.
0VoiceOfRa5yThe problem is that any apology is now recognized as such.
0OrphanWilde5yWhile I disagree, I still don't advocate apologizing.
0ChristianKl5yIt was advantagous for him to issue a public apology but that doesn't mean that the affair damaged him and that he isn't better of them at the start. You ignore a few things about the press: (1) People like reading stories that evolve. Journalists like to provide those stories to them. The desire to read how a story progresses makes people buy a new newspaper. With online media it's a bit different but even there jouranlists want to advance stories. (2) Most of the time the actors in the interaction care but many issues besides the actual conflict.
1OrphanWilde5yI wouldn't regard him as better off, and I have serious doubts he regards himself as better off, but we can disagree there. At any rate, he's not actually a useful counterexample, since he wasn't defending against attacks, but provoking them, and then responding... pretty much exactly according to the script. (Violated the hell out of Rule 1, though.) That might have been true twenty years ago. People's attention spans don't support that now. Even when it was true, however, the quick capitulation prevents evolution of the story. That's why that particular rule calls for -immediate- surrender; if you take a week to respond, you're dragging the story out and sustaining interest. Yes. That's one of the other critical reasons for immediate capitulation; you prevent your own side from needing to throw in on your side and -create- a controversy. If nobody is arguing about it, everybody's attention moves on.
0ChristianKl5yCapitulation and admitting to a weak version of the charge aren't the same thing.
-1OrphanWilde5yNo, they aren't, but most people won't be able to tell the difference.
0ChristianKl5yI think in most cases your opponent is able to tell that you didn't capitulated to them. There's the saying that if you give someone a finger they take the whole hand.
0OrphanWilde5yYour opponent doesn't matter. Your audience matters.

Defense follows different rules than attack. In defense, you aren't trying to inflict wounds, you're trying to avoid them. Ending the fight quickly is paramount to this.

What? This is counter to most of what I know about conflict. Attack and defense are inseparable. Your goals include stopping the fight quickly with as high a reputation as possible at the end. Increasing your status is as important as not letting your status be reduced (except for small declining-utility effects). Making your attacker seem low-status to the audience (aka the terri... (read more)

1OrphanWilde5ySo, what, running away isn't an option?
0VoiceOfRa5ySo this was supposed to be the "surrender to the the dark arts" article?
-1OrphanWilde5yTell me, how would you go about preventing somebody from robbing your house?
2VoiceOfRa5yI believe in having a gun for home defense.
0OrphanWilde5yA response which sums up this conversation, and the difference between our strategies, quite well.

If you're accused of something, admit to the weakest and least harmful version of that which is true (be specific, and deny as necessary), and say you're aware of your problem and working on improving. This works regardless of whether there's an audience or not, but works best if there is an audience.

I don't think is necessarily good advice. Admitting that you're aware of your problem and working on improving can be seen as a form of weakness. In some cases it may be better to categorically deny the accusation and immediately counterattack, for instance by accusing your attacker of having ulterior motives.

0OrphanWilde5yWhich would have been a disadvantage thirty years ago.
3V_V5yWhile it isn't now?
0OrphanWilde5yNo. Thirty years ago, you had to be fairly skilled to use a perceived weakness to your advantage, using it to direct/anticipate and redirect. Today, using weakness as a weapon is a standard item in the average person's social toolkit, and the society we live in expects weakness to be catered to.
2VoiceOfRa5yRather using a "weakness" in the sense of belonging to an officially approved "victim group" is an advantage. Actually showing weakness in a fight will be exploited even more ruthlessly than before.
-1OrphanWilde5yHow do you "exploit" somebody in a reputational fight, pray tell?
0VoiceOfRa5yYou exploit the weakness by demanding more concessions. To use an example strait from today's headlines the Christakises' showing of weakness by apologizing was exploited by the BLM thugs putting pressure on her to resign.
0polymathwannabe5yWhat exactly changed in these last 30 years that made weaknesses function differently?
0OrphanWilde5ySociety and technology. Somebody perceived as "punching down" in public is liable to be attacked en masse via social media, which makes it undesirable to do so. This is not to say that this makes you invulnerable, but it provides a pretty strong disincentive for those who might be inclined to attack on that basis.

That's a good collection of practical advice. There is slight issue here in that people who can effectively use it, don't need it; and those who need this list of rules probably aren't capable of using them effectively. And it's hard to recommend "practice more" :-/

-2OrphanWilde5yThere is that issue, yeah. I'm hoping the rules are a slight improvement over having zero idea of the correct way to deal with a situation; that is, that even if they can't be applied effectively, they might still be more effective than nothing at all.
3ChristianKl5yThey might. They are likely less effective than nothing at all. Your advice about "Do not stand out" has the possibility of prevent people from starting blogs and take a public stance for their own values. The are not good guidelines. Let's say a person in the EA/rationality space get's publically attacked. What should be their first response? That's a trick question. Don't do anything public while being in the emotion triggered by the attack. Seek out to other people in the community that have media experience and contact them privately. Do goal-factoring yourself about what's important in the situation. If you have a specific response in mind check with other people. In addition to EA/rationality people ask outsiders for their opinion. Respond publically only after you checked with other people and are in a state to think clearly about the issue. Do not think that you can handle the situation optimally yourself without outside input by reading a list with ten rules or even reading the full Art of War. Use Goal-factoring and Hemming circle's. Basic rationality techniques.
2pjeby5yI've at least heard of goal-factoring. What is/are "Hemming circle's"? Google only turns up articles about sewing.
4ChristianKl5ySorry, it's Hamming and not Hemming. (I often say the term and seldom write it) It's basically getting a few people together to speak through a problem that one person has.
1pjeby5ySearching for "Hamming circle" yields only information about hamming codes. Do you have a link?

It's a CFAR concept that's explained at their workshops but which hasn't been elaborated anywhere online, to my knowledge. (I take it you haven't been to a CFAR workshop yet, by the way? I think that their stuff and yours would have amazing amounts of synergy potential.)

The idea is that you have a small group of people, about 3 or 4, and then you go around the circle and each person gets to discuss their "Hamming question", named after Richard Hamming who'd go around asking other scientists, "what are the most important problems in your field, and why aren't you working on them". The Hamming question's the application of that to your life - "what's the biggest problem in your life, and what would it take to solve it". The other people are there to help the person who's trying to figure out their Hamming question, with e.g. probing questions and suggestions.

Hamming circles are a special case of "debugging circles", where the idea (3-4 people in circle, discussing each person's issue in turn) is the same, but you're also allowed to use the circle to discuss something that's not actually your Hamming question, but something smaller. I think Chri... (read more)

9Kaj_Sotala5y(comment continued) Look for positive and negative reinforcers in the environment. "I often post a link to Facebook, and then I keep returning to Facebook throughout the day because I want to see whether it's accumulated new likes and comments." Here, logging on to Facebook after posting a link keeps getting reinforced by the accumulation of comments and likes, which provide a reward each time that the page is opened and there's a new one. Could something be done to eliminate those reinforcers? ("If anyone sees me responding to a comment or posting a link, don't like it but do remind me that I was supposed to be working.") Or maybe provide reinforcers for something else? ("For each ten minutes that passes without me logging onto Facebook, could you please come give me a hug?") Be specific about the causes of emotional reactions. "My boss is so full of himself, it drives me nuts." Exactly how does the full-of-himself-ness manifest? If the exact behavior is "he often interrupts", maybe something could be done about that thing in particular. Best case: the boss comes from a conversational culture where interrupting is normal, and hasn't even realized that someone would consider it rude - but this would have been impossible for the others to suggest if the problem description would only have been on the level of "he's so full of himself". This is also a useful technique for reducing your own annoyance at others, even if it was just something you did in your head. "I'm getting frustrated now because that person is talking really loudly and I would like to read." Breaking down an atomic "AAAAAGH I'M SO FRUSTRATED" into a "I'm feeling [specific emotion] because [specific cause] and [that violates my desire/need to something]" is not only useful for debugging, it can also relieve the frustration by itself. Assume that problems won't fix themselves. In one session, someone says they intend to implement some change for next week's meeting. In the next session, they say, "
3Tem425yThis should be a top level post, probably in main.
0[anonymous]5y(comment continued) Look for positive and negative reinforcers in the environment. "I often post a link to Facebook, and then I keep returning to Facebook throughout the day because I want to see whether it's accumulated new likes and comments." Here, logging on to Facebook after posting a link keeps getting reinforced by the accumulation of comments and likes, which provide a reward each time that the page is opened and there's a new one. Could something be done to eliminate those reinforcers? ("If anyone sees me responding to a comment or posting a link, don't like it but do remind me that I was supposed to be working.") Or maybe provide reinforcers for something else? ("For each ten minutes that passes without me logging onto Facebook, could you please come give me a hug?") Be specific about the causes of emotional reactions. "My boss is so full of himself, it drives me nuts." Exactly how does the full-of-himself-ness manifest? If the exact behavior is "he often interrupts", maybe something could be done about that thing in particular. Best case: the boss comes from a conversational culture where interrupting is normal, and hasn't even realized that someone would consider it rude - but this would have been impossible for the others to suggest if the problem description would only have been on the level of "he's so full of himself". This is also a useful technique for reducing your own annoyance at others, even if it was just something you did in your head. "I'm getting frustrated now because that person is talking really loudly and I would like to read." Breaking down an atomic "AAAAAGH I'M SO FRUSTRATED" into a "I'm feeling [specific emotion] because [specific cause] and [that violates my desire/need to something]" is not only useful for debugging, it can also relieve the frustration by itself. Assume that problems won't fix themselves. In one session, someone says they intend to implement some change for next week's meeting. In the next session, they say, "
0Lumifer5yTrue. A set of guideposts in an unfamiliar landscape is quite helpful.

Healthy and informative - if only it would be easier to work out where to use the advice it might be more helpful to folk.

On some days I describe myself as a ghost; walking through the world without being seen; however at the same time everyone knows my face. knows OF me.

I wonder if I am doing 1 right. "hidden in plan sight"?

also a various strategy for helping 3: understand the humans around you. to the point where you can probably predict what will happen next.