Have you noticed how people tend to act up a bit when they are under pressure? The eminent therapist Virginia Satir found identified 5 typical patterns of behaviour that people tend to fall into when they are stressed. If you’re aware of them, and even more importantly aware of your own patterns, you can start deciding how to handle them better. Knowledge is power!
Also in this podcast – how to learn from those ‘difficult’ people – even the worst of them! What if they were sent to teach you something? Find out how in this week’s podcast.
Duration: 9m 53s
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1. The Placater
Automatic response is to believe that everything is his or her fault. The Placater is always trying to please others and always apologising.
Defining posture: symmetrical open physiology, looking up at you, arms outstretched, palms upward and moving up
Language: qualifiers-only,even,just,alittle;could,would;“I don’t know”
2. The Blamer
Loud, tyrannical, finger-pointing – it’s always someone else’s fault. Harsh, shouting voice. Feels lonely inside.
Defining posture: In your face, leaning forward, pointing the finger at you
Language: universals – all, every, never; negative questions – “Why can’t you ever listen?”; CE violations – “You’re always making me angry”
3. The Computer
Dry, cool, super-reasonable, takes a detached view of everything. Stands rigidly, as if cut off from everything happening below the neck. The body is just a means to convey the brain from place to place. Often stands back with his arms folded or one hand raised to his chin. Can rationalise anything, retreating into abstractions to escape his feelings. Intellect is important to the Computer; feelings are not to be trusted.
Defining posture: rigid, leaning backwards Language: Abstract words, passive voice, nominalisations; “There
was an agreement” rather than “we agreed”
4. The Distracter
Always changing the subject, never answering a question directly, the Distracter feels ignored and will interrupt constantly to be noticed. Often has a repertoire of accents and funny voices – anything to avoid being serious or grown-up.
Defining posture: angular, always moving, lopsided.
Identifying language: anything, as long as it’s not relevant; “I don’t know”, “It’s not my fault. Can cycle through elements of the other four categories.
5. The Leveller
Congruent, calm, solid, confident, authoritative.
Defining posture: symmetrical, upright, centred, hands moving downward, palms down and spreading.
Identifying language: “this is the way it is”, “this is true”.
How To Learn From ‘Difficult’ People
- Think of a person who does something that you don’t like.
- What is the positive intention behind their behaviour? Put yourself in their shoes and see things from their point of view (NB don’t do this with seriously disturbed people). See yourself briefly through their eyes. What do you learn from this different viewpoint?
- If that person’s behaviour had a positive intention towards you behind it, what would that positive intention be? What positive lessons do you need to learn from your interaction with that person?
- We often project qualities or characteristics we dislike onto another person. As you are responding to your internal representation of the person, rather than the person themselves, guess where the annoying characteristic really is? Within you. So it can be useful, if sometimes uncomfortable, to add a fourth step to the process:
- Ask yourself: How am I like that person? When do I behave like that?