You're entirely right, 'Games Trainers Play' is not at all like Games People Play, but it is a useful book in terms of practical applications of applied human psychology. The amount of value I've observed added to newly-formed teams and temporary groups through the contents - in terms of near-immediate cohesion, bonding, and comfortable introductions to group dynamic discussions - has been tremendous.

If I were going to retitle the two, GPP would become "Communicative Dark Arts and How To Spot Them", whereas GTP would be "Communicative Light Arts And How To Enjoy Them". I appreciate being able to spot someone else drawing me into a game I don't feel like playing, or don't play well enough to get my preferred payout. Being pretty firmly on the Light side of communication, I also appreciate being able to get groups integrated and performing well together easily and quickly, especially in my lines of work, which tend to involve a lot of people working together for short periods of time and with little prior contact.

I like the few games you've picked out, and they certainly seem to apply to LW specifically. If I broadened the scope a little, I'd probably pick two of the 'games' from GPP that it's common for me to see in LW-like communities:

Yes, But: This is a game where a problem is stated by the initiator, the (unknowing) respondent makes a suggestion towards a state problem, and the initator rebuffs it with a 'Yes, but' and then rephrases or further complicates the problem. Observe :

"I can't solve X!"

"Have you tried doing A?"

"Yes, but then Y!"

"Oh, well, what about B?"

"Yes, but then Z!"

"Well, you could always C..."*

"Yes, but... [repeat ad nauseum]"

This game is commonly launched into by someone who has either an intrinsic reluctance or a hidden external impetus to not actually resolve their initial problem. Sometimes caused by someone who simply wants to have a vent, and is caught off-guard by someone else not realising this and focusing in on a solution. Otherwise, this is a power game - the problem-stater insisting on being 'rescued', not once, but multiple times. May involve subtle goalpost-shifting.

The expected payoff for the Yes-But-er is to eventually wear the respondent down until they throw their hands up and agree, yes, the problem is intractable / we don't know enough / nobody can really say, etc, etc. The respondent-rescuer may then step in to complete the problem ("It's easier if I just fix it for you") or offer their acceptance of the insolubility of a soluble problem ("Well, I suppose some people just can't lose weight").

"Now I've Got You, You Son Of a Bitch" (NIGYSOB): Pretty self-explanatory, this essentially describes the process of assigning too much utility to a 'righteous' retributive action than is appropriate. If followed through on intemperately, can lead to an unnecessary escalation of conflict with deleterious results for either or both parties.

Example: Alice asks Bob for a quote on some web design. Bob quotes $998.50 with a carefully itemised list, which Alice carefully peruses and signs off on. Bob designs the website and realises he forgot the ongoing domain registration charges. He presents his bill to Alice for $1009.50. Alice angrily accuses Bob of unprofessional conduct and refuses to pay the bill. Bob, thinking Alice is being unreasonable, refuses to reduce the bill and keeps Alice's webpage non-functional. Communication has broken down. Until they de-escalate, Bob has lost out on revenue and Alice has no website.

Alice and Bob may, if they are clever, realise that their actions were disproportionate to the situation. Alice may have been screwed over by contractors in the past for much larger amounts of money, and, having 'safeguarded' herself by carefully scrutinising the quote this time around, had a NIGYSOB trigger and fire without realising that an extra ~$10 on a $1,000 bill was basically a rounding error and not worth a great deal of worry. Bob, on the other side, may have had clients try to dramatically short-shrift him in the past, may have had his last few clients default on their payments, etc, etc, and would have had his own, equally seemingly valid reasons for potentially losing all his income over what would be, in effect, a discount of 1% of the value of the contract.

Alice and Bob have precommitted and were unlucky enough to be caught in the situation where following through on the precommitment was harmful.

Open Thread, Dec. 28 - Jan. 3, 2016

by [anonymous] 1 min read27th Dec 2015145 comments


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