Consciously strategizing in social interaction is a Chinese fingertrap

by Suspended Reason

Strategic interaction ideas come with a bit of a bind.

If you think too hard about the effects of your utterances, if you’re paralyzed by decision trees, it hurts your performance. There’s a reason Alexander Technique is so popular among actors.

Certain games are won through ease and self-assurance—surrogates that say, He isn’t putting on deceptive appearances; he believes the things he’s saying; he knows something we don’t; he has status beyond what is obvious.” Certain games are won by being present, by actually listening to the other person, instead of neurotically calculating three steps ahead. Certain games are won by feeling comfortable, by enjoying yourself.

A Chinese finger trap is a situation where, if you struggle too much, you only get more stuck.

Ultimately, If I try to play the game [self-consciously], I end up in a neuroticism that hinders my performance” is a deeply strategic objection, rather than an objection to the game as game, to the demands of strategy as strategy.