Breaking Down Billions S01’s Negotiation and Communication Scenes

Episode 01: Pilot


Sacker warning about the No-Tinder rule

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Very)
  • Description: Being extremely rigid about something, or having a strict personality makes you seem more specialised and professional (even if not true), and in this case Sacker is using it to reinforce the pristine image of the office;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Appearance/Image;
    • Rigidity;


Axe with Danzig and Ben Kim

  • Is It Realistic: Maybe…
  • Description: Doesn’t seem like Axe knows all of these companies and CEOs mentally. Seems more of a showing-off scene than anything else. Also, Axe doesn’t usually wear a suit (this is before the 9/11 memorial). So, it is possible that he is feeling extra hyped, activated due to going into the event 10 minutes after this, and he’s extra show-off/aggressive. And Axe misses quite a few calls in later seasons. But is realistic that he can have an ego and be emotional? Sure.
  • Techniques Present:
    • Activation;
    • Image;
    • Pressure;


Lara threatening June

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Very)
  • Description: If you’re scrappy and impulsive, and you find yourself with money later in life, there is a very high chance you will threaten someone – and follow up on it. In fact, it’s what this show is about;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Pressure/Intimidation;


Chuck and Wendy argument

  • Is It Realistic: Somewhat
  • Description: The way that Chuck tried to remove Wendy from Axe Capital in a subtle, underhanded way doesn’t seem him. He’s usually aggressive, beats and threatens. But it’s possible he was tried to be more polite here due to Wendy being, well, his wife. Also, I really liked how they empathised and came back down from a heated argument, and connected again. Excellent example of empathy and de-escalation.
  • Techniques Present:
    • Pressure/Intimidation;
    • Empathy;


Chuck Sr. trap

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Very)
  • Description: We later find out that Chuck Sr. did this only for Chuck to reject the offer and seem very tough, even with friends, in public. Excellent play, and his son played right into it.
  • Techniques Present:
    • Credibility/Authenticity/Objectivity;
    • Displayed Authority (Social Proof/Word of Mouth);


Dollar Bill vs. Pouch Argument

  • Is It Realistic: Maybe
  • Description: Axe’s mediation is excellent. He can be objective when he wants to. That part is realistic. And hearing them both out. But is it realistic for both traders to need to solve this so quickly that they need to go to Axe right away? Hmmm… Also, is it not possible for both to execute the trades? They can have positions in opposite directions if they have different timeframes and strategies.
  • Techniques Present:
    • Mediation/Diplomacy;


Dimonda reporter blindsizing Chuck

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Very)
  • Description:
    • Perfect example of exposure. Once you put something out there, it has to be answered. Period. Also, Chuck uses the technique of acceleration beautifully (“You don’t tackle one financial crime” > “You assume I don’t tackle any financial crime? Let me tell how I do?”);
    • Also, Chuck telling Axe not to buy the house through Brian is perfect. A Dominant wants what others cannot have. Telling them they can’t have it is the perfect way to make them explode and need to have it at all costs;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Exposure and Acceleration (Dimonda and Chuck);
    • Dominant Personality Type Archetype (Respect/Honoring/Giving Something Exclusive – lack of all of these, in this case, telling Axe not to get the house);
    • Pressuring/Intimidation (Chuck with Spyros);


Axe identifying Wendy wants to leave

  • Is It Realistic: No
  • Description:
    • The part about the purchasing psychology is perfect and spot-on. So it’s ruined by this;
    • Axe can read Wendy’s facial expression and detect lack of body language congruency. And you can identify there is a problem in those cases. But he goes directly to “you’re thinking of leaving?”. Oh come on. Also, Wendy said in the argument with Chuck she was not feeling bored, so why did she decide to leave after the argument? She is not the type of person to cave to male demands at all. Very unrealistic in my view;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Body Language/Congruency/Discomfort (lack of, in this case);


Margolis with a wire

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Very)
  • Description:
    • If you’re perceptive enough, you can notice all of the cues here. But more than all the physical cues that Axe is mentioning, the most active one is Margolis actively showing up to discuss ideas. As Axe said, he could come to prescheduled events for this. But if you’re actively coming to discuss something, exceptionally, something is definitely up;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Body Language/Congruency/Discomfort (lack of);


Axe throwing Steve Birch under the bus

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Very)
  • Description:
    • Excellent example. Probably one of the most realistic scenes in the episode. Checkbox manipulation at its best. If you give someone a first target that satisfies them, they won’t seek a second one. This happens not just in one area of life, but many others. We’re anchored to the first option, and don’t even consider successive ones;
    • Also, secrecy and being rigid on the conditions for Dimonda to call him make the tip seem more legitimate and serious;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Peace of Mind Manipulation/Checkbox Manipulation;
    • Anchoring;
    • Secrecy/Rigidity (Axe with the restrictions on when to call him);


Axe vs. Chuck

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Somewhat)
  • Description: This happened in reality, so I guess it has to be realistic. Alpha males giving in to their worst instincts. I think in reality they would be a bit more moderated, but this can occur if their ego is big enough.
    • The intimidation game for both works very well. They are both Dominant personality types, so attacking their status or taking something away from them is the best way to insult them. And because they have the same personality type, they know exactly how to attack each other. It’s Logan Roy/Kendal Roy savage-level;
    • Although the sequence of events leading to Axe buying the house is hilarious (Chuck tempting, a false bidder, the dog getting his genitals removed), it is very realistic. Again, with a Dominant, take something away from him, and you are sure to trigger them. This part is very realistic in my view;
    • Also, in the end, Axe knowing the US Attorney is literally coming for him, and not caring, thinking he can overcome it, is also realistic in terms of a Dominant’s inflated ego;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Pressure/Intimidation;
    • Dominant Personality Type Archetype (Respect/Honoring/Giving Something Exclusive – lack of all of these, in this case);

Episode 02: Naming Rights


Bach advising Axe on legal action

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Somewhat)
  • Description: Not a legal expert. But in terms of persuasion, redoing the firm’s culture shows you’ve plugged the holes and that you have rehabilitated yourself, so I assume that any sentencing would be lower. Shows credibility, authenticity;
    • Also, the attitude of “never settle” is something I don’t understand. I’m assuming that it’s because you don’t show weakness. Therefore, the prosecution would be more likely to set up a deal, to avoid both parties spending resources. But I’m not sure in specific;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Credibility/Authenticity/Adverse Transparency;


Idea gen meeting

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Very)
  • Description: Macho culture. Everyone shows their worth by intimidation, pretty much. I like how the trader Maria is coached by Wendy to be confident so she is not overshadowed by the men in the room, who are more aggressive. Naturally, in this case, it’s about fitting the company culture. Could you be more objective and less aggressive? Sure. But the question here is not about being very persuasive, it’s about fitting in so they make their money;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Pressure/Intimidation;
    • Defensiveness;


Axe firing Victor

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Very)
  • Description: Axe fires Victor, publicly humiliating him. As Wendy later says, it’s the wrong way to fire someone like him, who is a hardcore Dominant. Absolutely. The first thing he will do is seek revenge;
    • I understand that here, Axe was trying to send a message to people. But he picked the wrong person to fire to do it. The interaction with Wendy is realistic, too. He says that this was spur-of-the-moment, and it was a spur-of-the-moment mistake. Absolutely. Very realistic;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Pressure/Intimidation;
    • Dominant Personality Type Archetype (Respect/Honoring/Giving Something Exclusive – lack of all of these, in this case);
    • Permission Manipulation (using Victor as a scapegoat satisfies any preoccupation investors may have, and serves to not make anyone take a further look. It “satisfies” them with the first thing);


Chuck intimidating Dimonda

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Very)
  • Description: Realistic, but very poorly executed. A realistic screw-up from someone with an ego. Chuck is rubbing in his face he knew what he did and humiliating him. If he calculates that Dimonda can be bought, then he should do what he eventually does later, which is bring him something so he’s in a favorable position and switches sides. This initial interaction just made him angry unnecessarily;
    • Also, he did something here which is very, very dangerous, which was to show that he was open to make a deal. As Dimonda states, he is known to not make mistakes ever. But Chuck corrects him and says that, if he’s willing to play in the major leagues, he’s willing to do one. Big mistake. Absolutely compromising his integrity and credibility. This is a very slippery slope;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Pressure/Intimidation;
    • Credibility/Objectivity (specifically, Chuck compromising his);


Wendy convincing Victor

  • Is It Realistic: Somewhat
  • Description: This is somewhat believable, but I don’t know. Wendy here is intimidating by proxy. She’s telling Victor how dangerous Axe is. I don’t know. I can see her playing the psychological angle, but this seems very easy;
    • Also, Victor was a Dominant. Textbook says she should show respect, value his time, and so on. She did not respect him as a Dominant, and just crushed him more with threats of Axe’s action. I don’t know. I could see this going badly and Victor becoming even angrier. I don’t know, honestly.
    • One thing I do appreciate and that was masterfully executed was her diplomacy;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Empathy;
    • Mediation/Diplomacy;


Chuck figuring out Birch’s arrest is not the best way

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Somewhat)
  • Description: Chuck realises he’s being manipulated. That they are suffering from checkbox manipulation – they’re given everything they want, just so they are satisfied and don’t do anything else. But he realises it and sacrifices the arrest just to keep moving forward;
    • I don’t think this is 100% realistic just because it’s very rare for someone to realise they are under the effect of this bias;
    • Also, I know Chuck wants to bag Axe, but it would possibly be a lot more productive in terms of PR and his career to arrest Birch. We see him sacrificing a good career move to double down on the pursuit of Axe. In my opinion a mistake, but may be realistic;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Checkbox Manipulation/Peace of Mind Manipulation;


Ken’s reframe

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Somewhat)
  • Description: Excellent reframe. Ken starts by asking Axe how he’s doing, assuming he’s doing better, and when Axe says he’s doing better (32 versus 2), he immediately switches it to a question of lower returns seeing more consistent. I love it. He didn’t even flinch;
    • Everything in life can seem good if you just examine it from a different angle. And he immediately switched the context from one where he looks bad to one where he looks better. This was excellent in my opinion;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Reframing;
    • Context Manipulation;

Episode 03: YumTime


Chuck versus dog poo guy

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Very)
  • Description: Chucks attitude is extremely realistic. Asserting his ego and having the need to dominate others and make them follow the rules;
    • Here is the thing – he is presenting himself as someone who is objective and always obeys the law. But in reality, he doesn’t. As Wendy previously said, he works for his interest, not the interest of the public good. But is it realistic he would force others to obey the law, and skirt it himself like a hyppocrite, and still believe he is in the right? Absolutely;
    • I love how he uses the acceleration technique here. Takes what the guy said, accelerates it until it’s ridiculous, and lets the guy realize his argument is invalid. Beautifully executed;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Rigidity (forcing him to follow the rules);
    • Pressure/Intimidation;
    • Accelerating to a contradiction (Yeah, let’s let it slide. Let’s let slide all of the grave crimes as well, why not?);


Wags about Maria’s renegotiation

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Somewhat)
  • Description: This seems fair. Wags, above all else, is about loyalty, despite how depraved he is. So someone threatening to leave with another offer will be a target. Some people take this personally, some don’t. I personally wouldn’t;
    • But here is the thing – depending on the culture of the company, the person may face retaliation or not. Once you’ve threatened to leave, there is no reason to believe you won’t do it again;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Abundance/Costly Signaling (Maria – admitting she has other offers, so she can sacrifice this one if she doesn’t get someone in return);


Chuck and Amelia horse trading

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Somewhat)
  • Description: He insulted her by offering her a small case in return, and she called his bluff. Very realistic. He underestimated her and offended her;
    • It seems like there isn’t a prior relationship, nor does Chuck know a lot about this person, so he should remain objective and try to make concessions so she makes them too. Coming in guns blazing, making demands and offering nothing is not a good strategy. Doesn’t seem that realistic – Chuck is seen to be more strategic;
  • Techniques Present:


Axe pressuring board members

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Very)
  • Description: Axe is doing activism investing (holding a significant enough part of a company to be able to present a restructuring plan to the board);
    • I love how one of the members says, “We are gathered INFORMALLY”, to try and remove credibility and authenticity from what Axe is saying. Very interesting use;
    • They are playing a good cop/bad cop approach here, almost a Dickens Pattern. Wags uses the stick and tells them they can be out as board members if they don’t agree, while Axe uses the carrot and tells them shares can rise if they take good action. Good use of perceived contrast, and makes Axe seem reasonable by comparison with Wags;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Good cop and bad cop/Perceived contrast/Anchoring (Axe seems reasonable in comparison with Wags);
    • Identity Labeling (“You are the more reasonable members, so you should do this”);


Chuck Sr. with female board member

  • Is It Realistic: Hmmm
  • Description: They both figured out Purkheiser is the person to persuade. Still, Chuck Sr. saying “Persuade him”, “Lobby him” with nothing more specific seems amateur;
    • May be his own hubris, but Chuck Sr. should now that Axe is strategic and will have a solid plan. And the female board member actually heard it. So she should persuade him with equally good reasons. This will come down to facts, in my opinion. She won’t win over Axe just by winking and being personable;
  • Techniques Present:


Chuck taking Lonnie’s case

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Very)
  • Description: Managers take their subordinate’s jobs, get credit for them and give them nothing in return all the time. Super realistic. At least Chuck applied empathy while taking the case away. And to be fair, he does reward his allies later, when he has the power to;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Empathy;


Chuck and Amelia negotiation, round 2

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Somewhat)
  • Description: This is a very powerful example of how to use the home advantage. She made Chuck come to her, made him wait. As Chuck, I would level the playing field and try to establish them as equals. Chuck played into her hand and proved himself. Would not do it;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Home advantage (Amelia making Chuck come to her);
    • Honesty/authenticity (Chuck insulting Spyros to his face);


Lara and Bach retaliating against June

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Very)
  • Description: Bach suggests Lara personally “reasons” with June. She does this by taking away her power and denying her things using her status. Realistic, and she shows she’s the real deal by following up on her threats. It is a risky approach, as she is could face retaliation;
    • An important element to take note of here is that there is a limited amount of moves here. This is similar to an ultimatum. Once you’ve pulled the plug and hurt the other side, you have no threats left. So this is a gamble. Lara is hoping these 34 moves will hurt June and change her mind – which they do – but if they didn’t, there is a risk she could do nothing else to hurt her, and she would continue on her path;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Escalation Dominance;
    • Threats/Ultimatums;


Decker failed proffer session

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Somewhat)
  • Description: As Chuck and the team state, they are bluffing. And Decker calls out his bluff. There are a lot of variables that come into this play;
    • First, Chuck should have made this more realistic. He could have name dropped the other person he is supposedly talking him, even if fake;
    • But still, it seems Decker is a pretty fortified person in terms of his alliances, so he wouldn’t give up easily;
  • Techniques Present:


Axe and Purk negotiation + board follow-up

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (In general, but lots of things between the lines here)
  • Description: Axe reads Purkheiser, knows he is folksy, invites him to the local pizza shop, and talks about authenticity. He read Purkheiser and played the man. Excellent tailoring of his message;
    • I do believe he could have pressed harder, and given a more logical plan. Maybe this was just the intro. But saying “Authenticity will sell more, and cut executive profits” just like that seems short. Maybe it’s just the elevator pitch version. I would say this is realistic if he follows it up with a solid plan – which he does present on the board meeting;
    • I also don’t understand how the board member that most opposed Axe is the first to turn on Bailey. But hey, they say there were other discussions in the meantime. This may be realistic;
    • I find it hilarious how they silence her attempt to go public with incentives here. This is exactly what usually happens in corporate environments. Super realistic;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Salience/Contrast (Axe does the opposite of the usual negotiators with Purkheiser – folksy and casual);
    • Recency/Primacy (he uses a simple message with Purkheiser – “Original recipe is better, executive pay is inflated”, starts strong with it, does the same in the board meeting. Efficient);


Chuck Sr. convincing Jr. to go after Axelrod

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Somewhat)
  • Description: Chuck Sr. is made Axelrod attacked his mistress, so he’s involving Chuck Jr. in the situation. He’s saying “Hey, my problem is now our problem”;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Contrast/Anchoring (by making Axe seem like a common problem to both, he is trying to align both of them. My problem is now our problem);


Lara and June closure

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Somewhat)
  • Description: Lara is doing a great thing here, which is giving her what she took after the threat is gone. She is showing fairness in her rigidity. If you go against me, I’ll attack you, but if you obey, I will support you. Boosts credibility;
    • I also like the NDA part. Intent labeling at its best. Forcing the person to explicitly state, and confirm, that she will not be a threat anymore. Making it explicit;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Rigidity/Credibility/Fairness;
    • Intent labeling (Lara forcing her to state/write she won’t be a problem anymore, explicitly, through the NDA);
    • Authenticity (Lara dressed casual – while June is all about pretense and status and thinking she deserves things, Lara is positioned as someone simple and straightforward – you know what you get – and doesn’t change that);


Chuck threatening to arrest Decker’s parents

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Somewhat)
  • Description: Chuck is making a brutal play here, which is to threaten to arrest a couple of innocent old people just to pressure a significant guy. This is absolutely brutal. To this day, I still do not know whether this was a bluff, or whether he would actually follow through with it. Either way, it worked;
    • No sophisticated negotiation or persuasion here. Just a brutal, intense threat to make Decker fall in line, and so he does;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Threats/Ultimatums;

Episode 04: Short Squeeze


Decker proffer session

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Somewhat)
  • Description: I can’t comment on how realistic it is for Axe to fit this description (I would say it’s realistic, as he’s a billionaire), but the persuasion techniques shown are very interesting;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Home advantage (everyone comes to Axe, he doesn’t come to others. Meetings form around him, information flows to him);
    • Abundance/Costly Signaling (does things just to show power, such as the sandwich thing);
    • Presence/Tension (when his eyes are on someone, it can be great or terrible);
    • Secrecy/Mystique (he has a reputation for doing things others don’t understand or don’t really know, and gets results);
    • Dominant Personality Type Tailoring (showing how the person wins, respecting them – specifically, how Pouch did NOT do this when trying to convince Axe to reverse the play. He did not appeal to his greed at all, but fear. Bad move);


Axe negotiating with the prime broker

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Very)
  • Description: Axe is a client, and considering the size of the hedge fund, and what they pay in commissions, it’s completely reasonable for him to ask him to hold the stock. It’s also clear here that the employee is under duress, as they would normally grant this easily;
    • Axe threatens to cut his business, which is a gigantic threat. I don’t care what type of favor Chuck Sr. asked of the director, but I would guess that Axe’s threat is bigger than that. Still, maybe Axe could have resorted to some other technique rather than threats. He could offer to hire the guy if the did him the favor, or similar;
    • Also, the employee uses empathy here, but in my opinion, in a bad manner. When you use empathy in an automated, plastic manner, it backfires. And it’s clear here that, after saying his business is important to him, he still won’t do the favor, that this is a fake platitude;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Bullying/Intimidation (Axe);
    • Empathy (by the employee, “I understand how important your business is for us”);


Axe going to Ken for the shares

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Very)
  • Description: Axe talked trash about Ken, and now he needs him. So, home advantage, as Axe is coming to him. And Ken is forcing him to make concessions and kiss the ring, asserting his power;
    • Here I would take a slightly different approach. Axe is a dominant and respects power. However, it doesn’t need to go from Axe showing he’s superior to Ken showing he’s superior. I would draw the boundary, and establish I’m not to be screwed with, but I would not go as far as mirroring Axe’s words back to him, saying, “There can only be one” as in Highlander, and saying I’m his savior. Overdone and overcompensated IMHO;
  • Techniques Present:
    • The home advantage;
    • Presence/tension/showing teeth;


Spyros threatning Chuck with his father’s arrest

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Very)
  • Description: I like how Spyros needs to use the threat to gain power. This is VERY realistic. Since Spyros is not respected or has power, he has to obtain it artificially. And you see this when he first asks for “a little respect”, and Chuck laughs in his face;
    • Goes to show how, even without persuasive powers, you can still obtain respect and compliance by force. But it will never be authentic;
    • A positive thing here is how transactional Spyros is. He has proven in the past that he can obtain something in return for something. So, even though he is sly and creepy, he has established that he will give something in return for what he gets, himself. So in that way, he has established he is transactional, and this creates trust, in a way;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Rigidity/forced compliance/escalation of commitment;
    • Reciprocity/Mutual trust;


Axe when Garth threatens to leave

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Very)
  • Description: Perfect example of costly signaling. He’s willing to lose him just so he’s not bothered anymore. “If you want to stay, stay. If you want to leave, leave”.
    • Also a type of acceleration technique. He doesn’t ask for the justification after, but I would. I would say, “Leave if you want. Why are you with me in the first place?”, and turn it to make him prove why he came to me in the first place;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Abundance/Costly signaling;
    • Accelerating (almost accelerating to a justification, but without asking the justification);


Axe’s friend being left behind

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Somewhat)
  • Description: Axe showing that he will not tolerate bad behavior from his friend. He showed up late to the departure, he stole his idea, and didn’t make the plane when leaving. Axe and friends did not tolerate it;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Rigidity (not tolerating low-level behavior);
    • Showing teeth (giving in return after getting a blow);


Chuck Jr. versus Sr.

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Very)
  • Description: Family drama. The father trying to manipulate the son and trying to tell him why he has to act this way. Disturbingly realistic;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Identity Labeling (Chuck Sr. trying to tell Chuck Jr. what he is and what he isn’t in order to get him to act against Axe);

Episode 05: The Good Life


Wags convincing the traders to not buy

  • Is It Realistic: Hmm…
  • Description: Well, it’s very hard to get a read here. We know that Axe is faking selling it al, but for all intents and purposes, let’s consider this real;
    • One thing I like is how Wags seemed confident and positive. No worry at all. I loved this. He could be hesitant, he could be panicking – which he does in Season 2 – but he does not show it. Excellent;
    • Now, the message to the traders. Good as well in my opinion. He’s saying that they’re pruning. They will still be angry, as they can’t make money, but it’s a good justification;
    • In terms of the tone, however, I would say something different. He’s say that they’re being delicate and subtle. But this is out of character for the firm, and the traders say it. I would use some excuse that still sounds aggressive, such as that Axe is pissed at something and firing his prime, so everyone can’t buy for a couple of days. Would be much more in character. Still, good overall;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Image/Appearance and Grace Under Fire (Wags confident, no worries);


Wags forcing Axe to deal with the investors themselves

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Very)
  • Description: Great technique here. As Wendy recommends, he’s making this real for Axe. He’s refusing to deal with things himself and forcing Axe to make the calls and to be involved. Effort shaping at its best;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Effort shaping (showing Axe how much effort it is);


Chuck convincing the farmers to give him information

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Very)
  • Description: Chuck is using contrast to make it seem reasonable not to hire a lawyer. He’s saying that, with a lawyer, it would turn hard, it would be a formal interrogation, and would be a worst-case scenario…. or we can continue this friendly chat. Due the contrast, it seems reasonable in return;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Perceived Contrast (by contrasting against the worst-case scenario, not lawyering up seems good);


Wendy and Wags try to get the troops under control

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Somewhat)
  • Description: So, Wendy is trying to convince the troops to calm down by reminding them of what they love, what they made in the past. This doesn’t seem to work, and I would expect Wendy to do better here. Although it is a hard situation. They all think Axe is insane, so they are doing whatever they want;
    • I would maybe use a reframe here, telling them to prepare their trades for execution as soon as Axe is back, or similar. I would focus on the future money they can make, versus talking about the past;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Removing Exits (Trying to appeal to what they did in the past to control their behavior now);
    • Identity Labeling (Tying them to their past successes in order to reinforce their attitude of being calm and patient);

Episode 06: The Deal


Chuck trying to convince Dollar Bill

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Very)
  • Description: Good and bad things here. I love the empathy piece (“I understand you’re a loyal man”). I love how he minimizes his loyalty for Axe (“You’re going to jail for nothing”). I love the deadline (“You have one chance to make this happen”). But I dislike the aggressiveness here (“We have the manpower, we have the will, we will destroy you, etc”). Unnecessary;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Empathy;
    • Pressure/Intimidation;
    • Deadline/Artificial Scarcity;


Chuck and Wendy talking

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Very)
  • Description: I like how Chuck apologizes here. Good empathy. I like how Wendy uses Implementation Intention (“What would you do?”). But it becomes less persuasive when Chuck claims that he needs to do this, and that he will run it into the ground, and that Wendy’s job is not important. Came in seeming empathetic and just ruined this image afterwards;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Implementation Intention (“How would you talk to me if you were to do it over?”);


Wags tries to convince Axe

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Very)
  • Description: I like how Wags tries to convince Axe in the beginning. Saying to embrace it and to become a family office, and be the best one. I love how quickly he adapts;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Image/Appearance (The threat of illegal action is enough to close the fund);
    • Paradox Intention (Wags saying, “Let’s embrace it. We’ll have the biggest family office”);


Bach convincing Axe to take the deal

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Reasonably)
  • Description: Good persuasion attempt by Bach, and some great takeaways here. First, he senses weakness. Therefore, they can negotiate better terms. Simple negotiation;
    • Then, he minimises the hit Axe will take. Excellent framing. Framing it as a small win;
    • Then, he mentions that if they find a first thing, and make a deal, they will be satisfied, and won’t start a second investigation. Peace of mind manipulation at its best. Great use;
    • Also, he is being very pragmatic here. Nobody cares about the reputational damage, and since a lot of the money in the fund is Axe’s, there is no problem in not taking outside money. Depressingly true. After 5 years, nobody would remember this. I mean, institutional allocators would. He probably would not ever raise external money again, but I mean, apart from that. Nobody would remember it. Especially after the administration changes;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Context manipulation (Making Axe loss seem small);
    • Peace of mind manipulation (If they make a deal, they ch eck the box, they’re done, and no second accusation will come);


Wendy and Chuck discussing the deal

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Very)
  • Description: OK, so there are several masterstrokes of genius here in Wendy’s strategy. Very well-scripted scene:
    • First, displayed authority. She gets Chuck Sr. to tell Chuck Jr. to settle. She doesn’t say it, she gets someone external he looks up to for that. Despite him realising it, the message is there;
    • Then, she drops her objectivity and oath to tell Chuck whatever he wants to hear about Axe. Even if she’s not really telling the truth, Chuck gets the feeling he can trust her, and that she is doing something she didn’t need to. Personal touch + adverse transparency;
    • Then, she clearly profiles the Dominant personality type Axe has. If he can win something, he’s win. True. If he can win and make the other side lose, even better. Double true. If not, he will rampage and try to destroy the other side. Triple true. perfect influence archetype profiling;
    • Chuck makes a mistake here, in my opinion, which is forcing the home effect. Axe has to come to him. I get he’s trying to assert power, but… unneeded. Wendy literally just said that Axe will be in the deal if he thinks he can win. This is already a bad move. Trying to subjugate a Dominant will only end in misery;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Displayed authority (Wendy relaying the message through Chuck Sr);
    • Personal touch + adverse transparency (Wendy opening up the book on Axe);
    • Influence archetype profiling (Dominant);
    • The home advantage (In this case, used in a bad way in my opinion. Forcing him to come to him);


Pre-deal Bach talk + deal itself

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Very);
  • Description: OK, so Bach starts by mentioning they can make an unexpected demand here, which is admission of guilt. This is unexpected rigidity at its best. Forcing an unexpected term after things are already settled. Primitive subjugation technique, but it may work;
    • But here, it’s used twice. Even after Axe takes it and accepts the unexpected rigidity, Chuck tries to force the lifetime ban, and blows it up. By the way, this is exactly why unexpected rigidity is dangerous – the other side can be angered to the point of blowing things up, which is exactly what happened here;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Unexpected rigidity (Chuck forcing the admission of guilt, and even after accepted, forcing the lifetime ban);
    • Pressure/Intimidation/Threats (Chuck needing to subjugate Axe);

Episode 07: The Punch


Axe team debrief on the punch situation + later debrief

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Very)
  • Description: Pure PR plays. Axe punched a guy, and if convicted he will lose all institutional money from the fund immediately. As they’re stating here, it’s a matter of controlling the narrative. And the first person to get the story out benefits from the anchoring effect. First impressions. Everything else that comes after is filtered through that lens;
    • Lara mentions they need to find Lara’s friend to testify that Axe’s driver was drinking. Objective, third-party validation. Good call here;
    • Also, I like how later Dimonda is asking for Axe’s comment to release the video. Giving him a chance to get his point of view out. So, even though it’s damaging, if it comes with his point of view, it can be somewhat mitigated;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Anchoring (first impressions stick);
    • Displayed Authority (third-party witness);
    • Exposure (whoever can state their point of view persuades more);


Chuck threatening Spyros with the rape case

  • Is It Realistic: Hmmm….
  • Description: So, the first thing that we get here is that Chuck isn’t really objective. If he was working for the public good, he would put Spyros behind jail, period. But he’s negotiating here. Literally condoning a criminal to negotiate to do his job and trial more crimes. This is one of the first signs in the show that Chuck has no credibility as an objective, aggressive pursuer of punishment for all crimes;
    • I do want to address the threat or ultimatum here. So Chuck is threatening Spyros. But again, the biggest problem with a threat or ultimatum is that only the threat itself works. The moment that you act on it, there is nothing left to do, and you’re done. And this is what happens. In Season 2, if I’m not mistaken, Spyros says “Go ahead, I don’t care anymore”, and now Chuck has no moves left to play:
  • Techniques Present:
    • Threats/Ultimatums (Chuck);


Bryan complaining to Chuck

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Very)
  • Description: As someone who was also raised with a chip on his shoulder, I recognise Bryan’s claims here and they are very realistic. He wants to do this his way, he doesn’t want someone else meddling, and he wants it to be meritocratic;
    • Chuck’s argument here, which is also fair, is that the playing field is not level. So even if Bryan wants to be a straight shooter and do it fair and square, he will need to move beyond that paradigm and play dirty, because the other side. And it’s fair enough;
    • It’s about results versus ideology. Would you rather play it straight and possibly lose, or would you rather play dirty and make sure you win? There is no right answer here;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Credibility/Integrity (Bryan’s approach);
    • Image/Appearance (Bryan’s image compromised if Chuck is involved);

Episode 08: Boasts and Rails


FBI busting through Donnie’s door

  • Is It Realistic: Hmmm…
  • Description: I smell sensationalism here. I get it that they’re trying to show Donnie what can happen, and the consequences of not cooperating, but it seems to exaggerated. Hey, Bryan may be desperate here, so no telling whether it’s realistic or not;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Suggestion/Potential/Visualisation (Bryan is trying to force Donnie to visualize the consequences, in detail, of not cooperating. Making it “real” for him);


Chuck and Wendy career change conversation

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Reasonably)
  • Description: This conversation is interesting because it has a deeper layer than what it appears. Chuck said he recused himself, but he lied, which will ruin his credibility with Wendy later in a massive way;
    • Wendy, however, assuming he’s being truthful, is looking to change careers as well, in order to reciprocate the sacrifice Chuck is (supposedly) making. So we have reciprocity here, and credibility, although both are based on a lie by Chuck, which wrecks his credibility;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Reciprocity (Wendy putting herself through the same sacrifice as Chuck);
    • Transparency/Authenticity (Supposedly by Chuck, but not really, and by Wendy – each one sharing with the other the sacrifice they’re looking to make);


Team analyzing Axe 9/11 book chapter

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Very)
  • Description: Simply put, destroying Axe’s reputation. The accusations are serious and would ruin his public image. Also, a lot of fund management is image, so he could lose a substantial part of his allocators due to this;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Image/Reputation (Destroying Axe’s reputation as someone giving and “Bobby Axelrod, the man of the people);
    • Motivation manipulation (Considering all the actions Axe took before, such as donating to the firefighters, if we now know he’s guilty, and look back on them, they all seem motivated by guilt);


Axe rampaging through the office

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Very)
  • Description: Very realistic. Making people rattled is the best way to get to make a mistake. And this is precisely what Bobby is trying to achieve, through intimidation;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Pressure/Intimidation (He’s pressuring people through sheer intimidating, screaming, eye contact);
    • Presence (The specific type of pressure he uses is by using his actual body language. Booming voice, screaming, aggressiveness);
    • Defensiveness (Putting people on the defensive allows him to keep pressing);
    • Physiological Priming (Someone distracted or confused will much more easily slip up);


Chuck giving Dimonda the book chapter

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Very)
  • Description: Quick interaction, but effective. It’s about contract and reciprocity. But, as Chuck mentioned, and very well, it has to be with someone who understands contract, who Dimonda is. It’s useless to make someone favors if they won’t do something for you in return. But Dimonda had a history of doing things for Axe and vice-versa, so they are trying to flip him to their side, and to create that same relationship themselves;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Reciprocity (Doing favors for Dimonda and vice-versa);
    • Credibility/Authority (Dimonda has credibility as a journalist, which is the only reason why Chuck suggested creating a relationship with him);


Bryan refusing to burn a source vs Chuck

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Very)
  • Description: Bryan is sticking to his principles and saying he won’t frame an innocent person. He’s showing integrity. Now, Chuck is doing something I really like here, which is using adverse transparency. He’s saying, “I might be wrong, and it may be you young guys who know how to do things now”. So, instead of forcing Bryan, he’s telling him he’s right, so that Bryan crashes and then comes back to him and recognises his wisdom. A low-pressure way to sell. Very well done;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Integrity/Reputation (Bryan, not burning his source);
    • Adverse Transparency (Chuck saying, “I may be wrong, let’s do it your way”);


Bryan telling Donnie he has to testify

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Medium)
  • Description: So, Bryan is only telling Donnie now that he has to testify. Wrong move. Unexpected rigidity (springing “one last thing” on the person, who may reject it). Especially bad move with someone flighty or scared. But on the other hand, if he had been honest about all the effort from the beginning, maybe he wouldn’t have gotten him on board;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Unexpected rigidity (bringing up “one last thing” the person must do);


Wendy in the Donnie interrogation

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Medium)
  • Description: As Wendy says, and very well, she is being co-opted into the interrogation in order to legimitise it. Axe just wants to interrogate them and try to “break them”, and he wants Wendy’s reputation involved in order to make it seem like a more legitimate effort;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Image/Authority (Wendy’s image being used);


Chuck Horvath interview

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Very)
  • Description: So, Chuck is asking about how the day-to-day of the job would be, what he would do, and so on. He’s making it real and really crystalising the details of how it would work out;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Suggestion/Visualization/Implementation Intention (figuring out how the job would work out, and the specifics of doing it);


Dimonda breaking the story to Axe first

  • Is It Realistic: No;
  • Description: Well, Dimonda is supposedly asking Axe for comment. But I don’t know what he would expect here. He knows Axe won’t react positively, I doubt he will get a comment, and it almost seems like’s just rubbing in his face his change of allegiance. I don’t see the point of this scene, except for shock value. Good TV, bad persuasion in my opinion;
  • Techniques Present:


Axe team intervention to counter the 9/11 story

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Very)
  • Description: I like the contrast here between Axe’s team trying to spin this in a dozen different ways. And Axe remaining honest and not trying to hide it. However, I like that Axe, subconsciously or not, actually gave them the perfect reframe. He did say that he saw the chance to make the $750M, but he also said that the families would need it. And this could be a great reframe in and of itself;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Reframing/Spinning (team wanting to change the angle or counter with a different story);
    • Adverse transparency (Axe being honest and not protecting himself, saying, “I did do it”);


Wendy and Chuck job interview debrief

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Very)
  • Description: Wendy did something masterful here, which was permission manipulation, or checkbox manipulation. That is, Chuck would have the thought of leaving in the back of his head until he saw how it would be, firsthand. He had to “get it out of his system”. So she made him do it, so that he could check the box and move on… and he did exactly that;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Permission manipulation (Wendy made Chuck satisfy that need, that wondering, and because of that he could “close the chapter”);

Episode 09: Where The F*ck Is Donnie


Axe fighting Ayles on the naming rights

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Very)
  • Description: This is predictable, given his reputational damage. A building having Axe’s name attached to it doesn’t make sense anymore. And, as Chuck said in the beginning of the season, many people were just dying for an excuse to strike. They just didn’t have one, because Axe’s reputation was golden. But now that there is an opening, everything is up for grabs;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Permission manipulation (Since Axe’s reputation took a blow, that now gives people “officially” permission to go after him in multiple areas);


Chuck discussing the kikashi with Bryan

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Medium)
  • Description: Simple yet effective. Since the AG was still considering taking away the case, Bryan had to make a move to actively show they had something, and had made progress. He pre-empted them and forced their hand;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Pre-eempting;


Lara’s family’s intervention

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Very)
  • Description: I like how the recency effect is at play here. That is, Bobby made all those donations throughout the years, but now that the thing in people’s minds is the 9/11 thing, then it’s almost like those don’t matter. Also, the contrast here is working against him. Precisely because he had such a pristine image of helping others, this news is devastating. If he first screwed up with the 9/11 thing going public and THEN made the donations, that would actually create the opposite perception;
  • Techniques Present:
    • The recency effect (People emphasizing, in their memory, the most recent thing);
    • Contrast (Axe’s action is so contrasting with his previous image that it sounds even worse by comparison);


Bryan and Terri discussing

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Very)
  • Description:
    • Terri mentions here, and very well, that Chuck doesn’t have congruence in his body language. Which usually means that someone is either lying, or they’re uncomfortable for some reason, or something else is going on. On top of that, she mentions that she is noticing this happen recently, which means a change. Therefore, she’s concluding Chuck is up to something, and that Bryan is a part of it;
    • Extremely realistic here. Terri is mentioning she just has a hunch. But she describes that hunch. So she’s not positioning herself as a mind reader, she’s just telling Bryan to be aware of Chuck because of what she’s sensing. Extremely realistic;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Congruence (Lack of – Chuck’s boy language and what he says not lining up);


Axe confessing to the firefighters

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Very)
  • Description:
    • I like what Axe does here. He uses adverse transparency in his purest form. He admits something negative, that he didn’t need to, about him, to establish his authenticity. Even if they think even worse about him, he now sounds authentic;
    • He’s using contrast. He’s taking the blame and putting it on himself to then say it was all for the victim’s families, and that the firefighters matter too. Masterfully done. When others think he’s trying he’s trying to protect himself, he dives off a cliff to gain momentum to then ascend again;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Adverse Transparency (Axe is admitting something he doesn’t need to in order to reinforce his authenticity and credibility);


Axe being the bigger person with the protesters

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Somewhat)
  • Description: Axe is showing he’s the bigger person by putting the protesters in the limousine. By doing this, he’s rehabilitating his image, and showing that things don’t affect him. That he’s not petty;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Image/Reputation (Axe rehabilitating his reputation);
    • Grace Under Fire (Axe showing that things don’t affect him);

Episode 10: Quality of Life


Axe speaking with Donnie in bathroom

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Very)
  • Description: Emotion aside, Axe here offers Donnie the best medical access that he can, using his doctor. This is loyalty and reciprocity at his best. Taking care of his people. So, he expects a lot from his people, because he gives them a lot in return (similar to how, in S05, he gets all his employees COVID vaccines before they go public);
  • Techniques Present:
    • Reciprocity (Axe establishes a reputation for helping his people, just like they help him);


Bach defending Dollar Bill

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Very)
  • Description: I love how Bach goes full emotionally manipulative here, with the picture of the child. Same tactic as the NGOs. It’s hard to care about something generic, but it’s easy to care about something specific. That’s why pictures of children always get more donations than no picture, and why asking taxes for a specific purpose always makes people more satisfied than having no specific purpose;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Personalisation (It’s a lot easier to persuade with specifics, such as putting a face to a child);


“Pretend we’re having an argument”

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Somewhat)
  • Description: So, I love how hilarious this scene is, but I don’t know how realistic it is. The persuasion principle is solid. Of course. The enemy of my enemy is my friend. And people talk. So pretending to be on the outs with Dollar Bill will make the three leavers try to ally with him, which is perfect bait to betray them later. I like the plan and the execution is hilarious, but how realistic is it? I would say it’s OK;
  • Techniques Present:


Chuck blackmailing Judge Wilcox

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Reasonably);
  • Description: I like the move. Very bold. Chuck gets the judge to leave the bench, and gets him arrested later, and paves the way for DiGiulio. The strategy is excellent. But is this realistic? As Lonnie previously said, he’s making a move on a federal judge. Even with the best proof in the world, this is a pretty savage move. But hey, if they were about to fire Chuck, maybe he was desperate enough to do it;
    • One realistic thing is the body language. First, pretending to be respectful, Chuck is humble, on the other side of the table. But when he’s laying out all the ammunition he has, he closes in on Wilcox and towers above him. The body language reflects the power he is showing;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Pressure/Intimidation (Intimidating the judge);


Lara confronting Wendy

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Somewhat)
  • Description: Lara is very direct here, very in character for her, and she’s pretty confrontational. After Wendy refused to get her husband to back out, Lara makes it seem, without any restraint, that Wendy is not part of the family, and that Walter is “taken care of”. She is pushing Wendy out in a direct, brutal manner;
  • Techniques Present:
    • The Home Advantage (Lara showing this is “our family”, not Wendy’s, and almost acting like she’s the owner);
    • Exclusion (Pushing Wendy outside the group, and giving the impression the tight family does not include her);

Episode 11: Magical Thinking


Mafee getting permission to talk about BioLance

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Very)
  • Description:
    • I love how this is a perfect example of failed permission manipulation. Mafee thinks he will be fired if he talks about BioLance. So, by asking permission to talk about it, he thinks that it’ll be OK. He wants to check that box, to be able to talk without being fired, and Axe refuses it, and fires him anyway;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Permission Manipulation (trying to get permission, and not being able to);


Zenobia fund manager convincing Wendy

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Very)
  • Description:
    • I really like her balance here. She is bold, and she tells Wendy that Wendys wants to be there, but she also doesn’t pressure her. She challenges the yes. She says, “Go, think”. This results in a very interesting contrast. Bold, but not pushy;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Presence (she’s confident, presents a good image, and takes initiative);
    • Adverse transparency/challenging the “yes” (She gives Wendy time to think and consider, even if she may lose her due to this);


Chuck negotiating with DiGiulio

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Very)
  • Description:
    • OK, so Chuck is “reversing” the reciprocity here. Saying that if DiGiulio doens’t hold up his end of the bargain, he can take his position away. He’s using both the carrot and the stick. It’s messy, but I guess it’s realistic in politics;
    • I also like how Chuck uses progress and loss. “We’re almost at the end. It would be such a tragedy if you were to lose it all now”. Brilliant execution of progress and loss. I love this;
    • I like how he gives a justification in specific. “I’ll have to do something that is quite odious”. He’s using reverse empathy, forcing DiGiulio to understanding his point of view, which opens him up a little bit. It’s a great technique;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Threats/Ultimatum (Saying that, if he doesn’t get what he wants, neither will DiGiulio);
    • Progress and Loss (He’s saying that they’re almost at the last step, but they can also lose it all at this stage);
    • Justifications (He’s sharing what he will have to do, and his sacrifice, to make it more palatable and open up DiGiulio);


Wendy controlling the session

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Very)
  • Description: I like how Axe sits in the sofa, which nobody else at the firm does, and Wendy sits in the chair until he goes to the chair, forcing him on the same place as every other client. It’s a subtle power dynamic. He’s trying to affirm that he’s different, and she’s affirming the opposite. He caves. It’s also good for the session, since the topic is Axe precisely thinking he’s special with no reason;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Home advantage (Wendy is forcing Axe to come to her, on her terms);


Axe and Wendy session throwing things

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Medium)
  • Description: I like how Axe and Wendy are talking about permission manipulation, at the end of the day. Axe believes he has to do something to punish himself for Donnie, he has to check the box, and until he does, he won’t check the box, he won’t give himself permission to move on;
    • The example he narrates of the lover breaking up and sleeping one last time is also this at work. They make it the last night on purpose, so that by doing that they give themselves permission to move on afterwards;
    • I don’t know how realistic the breaking stuff is, but considering they are both millionaires in Wall Street, hell, it probably is;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Permission manipulation (Axe has to give himself permission to be at peace, and he hasn’t yet);

Episode 12: The Conversation


Axe and Wags on the cap raise

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Low);
  • Description: Yep, every thing Axe says is true. It’s all about the image. It’s signaling. Allocators have so many fund managers vying for attention that they need heuristics to eliminate people. And they use image and appearance for that. People get eliminated for the smallest things;
    • The part where he dumps the books and the suit can be useful or not. I call this a “strategic inversion”. You do precisely the opposite of what you are expected to. And, like Steve Jobs with the turtleneck, it can work for exceptional people, but they can also fail miserably. I am very hesitant about how this would go. If a top manager like Ray Dalio did this in real life, would they still close multiple allocators? While in the middle of a reputational crisis related to terrorism profiteering? Could go either way. But overall, not recommended;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Signaling/Theatrics (The image and appearance are all that matters);
    • Image/Appearance (All that matters is the image);
    • Pre-empting (Axe takes all the accusations he thinks they will throw at him and pre-empts them);


Axe threatening Wendy

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Somewhat)
  • Description: OK, so I don’t know what to think here. Axe is the type of person to go “scorched earth” on someone for revenge, and he thinks that Wendy betrayed him. But the problem with this type of threat, or ultimatum, is that you can never go back from it. This relationship will hardly recover, even after Wendy proves it wasn’t her;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Threats/Ultimatums (Axe threatening Wendy with the materials);


Chuck and Wendy arguing

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Somewhat)
  • Description: I like how they are both digging up each other’s dirt, and they both find it. Chuck broke into her computer, Wendy works with criminals, Chuck went to pleasure himself alone, etc. But two specifics here:
    • First, Chuck tries to spin his actions here. “This was all for our family”. very similar to Walter White in Breaking Bad. It was all for him, but he’s trying to justify it as being for his family;
    • Then, Wendy talking about honesty. Both of them accusing each other, but Wendy mentions that she never hid anything from him, or lied, while he did, which is fair given what we saw so far;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Reframing/Spinning (Chuck trying to reframe his actions);


Wendy showing Axe the recording

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Very)
  • Description:
    • The negotiation here is straightforward. I like how Wendy used an open-ended question (“What else are you prepared to offer?”) instead of naming demands to let Axe anchor himself;
    • I like how Wendy says she needs to hear herself say that they are criminals in order to leave. She needs to admit it. Permission manipulation. She checked the box, and can now leave;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Permission manipulation (Wendy needing to “check the box” in order to leave);


Axe meeting with Bryan in the pizzeria

  • Is It Realistic: Yes (Very)
  • Description:
    • I like how Axe is using Bryan’s contradiction to short-circuit him. This is, again, excellent:
      • First he establishes common ground, and says that Chuck is not like him or Bryan. They have something in common that Chuck doesn’t;
      • Then, I like how Axe mentions that working for him will unleash his potential, and allow him to be honest with himself and not compromise his principles, which he is currently doing with Chuck. It’s also consistency – he’s indicating that Bryan is not acting in accordance with his personality, and that he needs to work for him to keep consistent;
  • Techniques Present:
    • Common ground (Both coming up from nothing);
    • Identity contradictions (Telling Bryan who he is and who he isn’t);
    • Consistency (Telling Bryan that, to keep being true to himself, he has to work for him);

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