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sdr comments on Project Hufflepuff: Planting the Flag - Less Wrong

41 Post author: Raemon 03 April 2017 06:37PM

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Comment author: sdr 26 April 2017 04:46:31AM *  3 points [-]

Thank you for posting this. I agree, that growing negotiation skills is hard under best of circumstances; and I agree that certain types of newbies might self-identify with the post above.

There is a qualitative difference between people who are negotiating (but lack the proper skill), and the parasites described above:

  • Beginner negotiators state their request, and ask explicitly (or expect impliedly) for price / counter

  • More advanced negotiators start with needs/wants discovery, to figure out where a mutually beneficial deal can be made; and they adjust as discussion proceeds

  • These parasites, in comparison, attempt to raise their request against explicitly stated, nebulous things (or nothing at all): "Would you like to do free translation for me?" - "Cause X is very important, and therefore you, specifically, should do something about it" - "Would you like to build my full website for me in exchange of 1% shares?"

For the record:

  • I have attempted education in some cases (1-on-1, no social standings on the line on either parties, being discreet, etc), to no effect, and only resentment from the other party.

  • I observe that this parasitic strategy works some of the time, which incentivize existing parasitic behavior to grow until saturation. These are the reasons why I brought this up here in the first place.

  • Kindly note, that while there were a lot more evidencing going into this than described above, I am hesitant to disclose more specificities about any of these cases, because the Bay is small (-> personal identification), and discussion isn't reflective-complete (parasites read this, too; the more I disclose here, the more they can shift their strategies)

Comment author: k_ebel 26 April 2017 06:33:33PM 0 points [-]

Thanks for your reply and the additional clarification of your original point.

I certainly am not seeking additional identifying information. For one, it would do me no good as I don't have the local context knowledge to map it to anything anyway. Secondly, the gist of my initial comment was really more responding to the sense that taking a few examples and generalizing them to a larger group of people seemed inadvisable to me.

Along those same lines, I'm still really hesitant to get behind a statement that strongly implies that all well-intentioned newbies will start poorly negotiating in only one way (or one set of ways), and that anyone who starts negotiating poorly in a different or particular way (or set of ways) is obviously doing so from a place of poor intentions. The more visibility and reach this community has, the more diversity we're going to see in the new people who are finding it. And in the ways of communication they've learned are effective and acceptable. Additionally, not every newbie who comes into the community is ready or able to identify culture differences as the source of the problems they're encountering. Troubleshooting is its own skillset.

It also feels really important to me to point out that - if we're going to encourage people to ask and to practice asking (both of which are necessary in order to actually improve our asking and negotiating skills) then it creates some counter productive incentives if we then turn around and say things like "oh but folks who are asking in these particular ways are clearly a parasite."

While I agree that the examples you give of how a parasite might ask for something (or the scenarios they propose) don't look like particularly good deals... I still don't understand how this particular kind of ask is an indication of some sort of inherent parasitic nature the part of the asker. If we're going to create or maintain a culture where asking is an OK thing to do, then part of the underlying assumptions that go into it are that the other person is free to say "No."

To be completely fair, this is a legitimately difficult situation. In your initial comment you pointed out that one of the indicators you were looking at was the fact that these asks are primarily going towards newer folks (who may not be comfortable with ask/tell culture and who may feel obligated to say yes.) Which makes me think that perhaps the educational thrust I suggested initially was lacking in some key areas.

Perhaps - in addition to offering resources to new folks who want to learn how to ask effectively and responsibly - it would also be a really good idea to also include resources on things like how to say No/ how to be comfortable saying No, and - also really important for those coming from guess cultures - how to gracefully receive No.

I don't know that this is so much a solution for any particular individuals who are already here as it is a set-up for new people coming in that seems to give space for folks to learn the skills needed to not fall into a pattern of behavior that might be read as parasitic - before passing judgement on whether or not they are parasites.