Effective Ways to Blow Up Any Relationship
With Thanks to the Remarkable Virginia Satir
1. TIMING – pick the right time to make a complaint or to raise a controversial issue. Wait until everyone is extremely busy or frustrated. Right when 5 clients have walked in the door is a good option. As a general rule, look for the time when they least expect it or are least able to respond.
2. ESCALATION – Move quickly from the issue to questioning their personality, wondering whether it’s worth the effort to stay at this job. Interpret the difficulties of the job as evidence of bad faith or lack of integrity on the part of co-workers or administration.
3. BROWN BAGGING – Try to list as many problems as possible in as much detail as possible. Don’t stick to the original issue, but rather throw in all the problems you can think of. Don’t limit yourself to the immediate present. If a co-worker can’t recall the offense, so much the better.
4. OVERGENERALIZE – Use words like “always” and “never” as in “the previous shift always leaves us work to do.” This is likely to distract coworkers from discussing the over generalization rather than the issue, and insure further misunderstandings.
5. CROSS-COMPLAIN – Respond to any complaint coworkers may raise with one of your own. If done properly, you can balance complaint with complaint forever.
6. CRUCIALIZE – exaggerate the importance of the issue with statements such as, “If you cared about your job, you would have done this better in the first place.” Never concede that an issue is not absolutely critical and in need of immediate attention.
7. ASK WHY – “Why didn’t you get that done?” or “Why were you late?” will imply that there must be something terribly wrong with them and that the issue is something more than some simple problem behavior that might otherwise be easily resolved.
8. BLAME – Make it clear that the fault lies entirely with them and that once again you are simply the innocent victim. Don’t admit that your behavior plays any part in the difficulty. Make sure they realize they must change first.
9. PULL RANK – Rather than depend on the merits of your argument, pull rank by reminding coworkers of all the difficult jobs you do at work, of your education, and that you are older, younger, wiser or more experienced in such matters. Anything that will enhance your status at their expense should be considered.
10. DON’T LISTEN, DOMINATE – Any time you appear to be listening you run the risk of suggesting that you value your coworker’s opinion. Consider talking while they are presenting their case, pretending to read, or suddenly becoming very interested in something else while they are talking.
11. LIST INJUSTICES – This is a great morale builder. By reciting every slight injustice or inequity you have experienced at work, you will experience a renewed sense of moral self-righteousness. You can use this approach to justify almost any activity you have always wanted to engage in.
12. LABEL – By labeling somebody in a negative manner you can create the impression that they are totally at fault. Psychological labels (i.e. “childish,” “neurotic,” “insecure” or “lazy”) are particularly effective in obscuring issues where you might be vulnerable.
13. MIND-READING – By deciding that you know the real reason why someone is acting in a certain way, you can avoid having to debate issues. For example, “You only said that to set me up,” or “You don’t really feel that way,” are particularly effective.
14. FORTUNE-TELLING – Predicting the future can save you the effort of really trying to resolve or solve the problem. For example, “This situation will never change,” or “It would be easy for me to change, but it wouldn’t make a difference around here,” are statements which can protect you from having to make any effort at all.
15. SARCASM – This is a great way of saying something without having to take responsibility for the communication. If you say “You really know what you are talking about…” just right, you can imply that they are stupid and deny that you said it at the same time.”
16. AVIOD RESPONSIBILITY – Although not very elegant as a tactic, saying “I don’t remember” can bring the discussion to an abrupt halt.
17. LEAVE – No problem is so big or important that it can’t be ignored. Walk out of the room or just refuse to talk. Sometimes just threatening to leave can accomplish the same purpose without the inconvenience of actually leaving.
18. REJECT COMPROMISE – Don’t back down. Why settle for compromise when with a little luck you can really devastate them. Stick with the “one winner” philosophy.
19. PERSONALIZE – Anybody can resolve a conflict if you stick to the issue. By shifting to personalities you should be able to be able to generate enough defensiveness to keep the conflict going forever.
20. PLAY THE MARTYR – If timed properly, this tactic can completely disorient the opposition. “You’re right, I am hopeless,” can stop them in their tracks. An example of a less subtle form is “How could you say that after all the hard work I’ve put in around here.” An extreme form is to threaten to quit if they don’t shape up.
21. GIVE ADVICE – By telling people how to act think, and feel you can maintain a position of superiority while insisting that you are only trying to be helpful.
22. GET EVEN – Don’t settle for a compromise or an apology. Hold grudges for as long as possible since you might need those complaints in future arguments.
23. USE TERMINAL LANGUAGE – For example, if you happen to be upset by the fact that the room wasn’t straightened, start with “You slob…” to suggest that it is their existence and not their behavior at question.
24. BE INCONSISTENT – Keep them off balance by changing your position. Try complaining that they never talk to you and then ignore them when they do.
25. OTHERS – This list should only be considered suggestive of the range of tactics to be drawn from. With practice and creativity, you should be able to come up with numerous innovations.