I've been telling everyone I work with to stop acting like other people are doing you favors, and instead just be completely virtuous and then note that you're doing a favor for them if you approach them to work together. This got a little pushback, with one team member saying, "Can we rephrase it as "Don't come across like you're asking for something from a position below them, talk to people as if you're on equal standing and in a mutually beneficial relationship with them"?" Here's my reply -
So, I played Dungeons and Dragons when I was 12 years old. Great game, lots of fun. You get to have storytelling and roll dice and it's really just neat.
But I remember one time, I was confused that there was a "treasure table" that was roughly the same for all characters. Meaning, good characters and evil characters got the same amount of gold/treasure/magic items/whatever.
That didn't make any sense to me. The heroes were famous and loved by society, the villains were evil and wretched and spent all their time chasing gold, so certainly the villains should at least wind up with more gold, right?
And my DM - Dungeon Master - said no, that's not the case. The evil person plots and schemes all the time, and gets gold that way. The good person just does right for everyone, and thus the grateful villager or king gives them gold and magic weapons and whatever.
That's pretty much it - evil people plot and scheme, good people just do good and get compensated.
Except! In real life, no one notices your contributions unless you tell them.
So instead of, "Hey guys, we just killed the dragon..." and then the mayor gives you a +12 sword... instead, in real life, you have to say, "Hey guys, we just killed the dragon. And you've got an unused +12 sword just sitting there since the ancient ruler retired. Can I take that with me?"
Good guys can do that. But the vibe is, "We're killing dragons, want to help?"
You, dragon-killer, are actually doing them a favor by offering to let them help you. I know that sounds strange, but it's really the right vibe.
"Let's plot and scheme together" scares people, risks connotating that you're evil, and otherwise puts people on-guard.
I'd cut out any mutually beneficial relationship vibe/bullshit, and just be like, "Hey, we're killing dragons. Dude, give me that sword." It doesn't work all the time, but it works more often. It's more satisfying, too.
I'd add that you really, really do have to take care of and protect everyone's interests - as mentioned in the "Rationalist Humanitarian Command" series of videos.
I was using D&D as a lens the other day too. I remember playing with an older DM who chastised all of us Gen-Yers for "bouncing off the walls until something happened like it was a Playstation game." It got to where all we had to do was break/blast through a brick wall to have an amazing adventure and instead we just gave up because there was no door. That was a low point.
The same mindset with which a player pushes and tests the dungeon is used in a contract negotiation or sales meeting or anything in business.
P.S. Why do people who played D&D write about +12 swords and other ridiculous stuff that wasn't in the game? You're not a Hollywood writer. You know that caps at +5 as a general rule, at least at the level where a mayor would have one. ;)
Question from a reader -
I'm reading The Book of Five Rings, and I have a question.
There's a lot of good stuff about acting decisively and immediately so that you can win while your opponent is hesitating, but I don't get why he emphasizes swords so much in particular.
Masters of the long sword are traditionally known as heihosha [strategists]. As for the other military arts, those who master the bow are called archers, those who master the spear are called spearmen, those who master the gun are called marksmen, and those who master the halberd are called halberdiers. But we do not call masters of the long sword "long swordsmen", nor do we speak of "short swordsmen". Bows, guns, spears and halberds are all tools of the warriors and each should be a way to master strategy.
Ben Galley is a fantasy author and staunch defender of independent publishing. The Written is his first book, and the first in The Emaneska trilogy.
I have to say I was expecting some fairly standard sword and sorcery tale here, a bit of magic, a few fabulous beasts slain, the usual wise grey beards and prophecies. As a first book that would have definitely been the safe option, and would still have been a good read.
Needless to say this isn't what you get. You get a slew of mythical creatures - dragons (I suspect on the Pern novels exceed the sheer number in this book), werewolves and more besides. You get heroes and villains. You get magic. You get sword fights. But all of these are put together in a way that's different from the norm. Rather than trying to subvert all the fantasy tropes it is as if Galley dropped them and they smashed and in putting them back together they aren't quite the same as they were before.
The basic story concerns the theft of a spell book which, in the wrong hands, can be used to summon a mighty and powerful evil. Farden, one of the Written (a sort of magic user that has spells tattooed onto his back) has to try to prevent this happening. I won't give any more details as there are many twists and turns as the story unfolds.
Farden is a powerful mage and a tough fighter and although he is heoric he also has personal demons that could cause his mission to fail. He is a loner with little patience for others. He doubts his own abilities and judgement. As the reader you feel you want to give him a good shaking sometimes to get him to act. This makes him a very complex character, realistic and interesting to follow. The other main characters are also fully realised with their own mannerisms and momentum.