Tricky People II

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In our last newsletter we introduced the four gremlins – those roles tricky people take on – not just other people – ourselves too (sometimes): the blamer, the placator, the cold analyser type, the whirlwind.

If the blamer gremlin takes you over, it is helpful to do the following:

  • Express that you don’t agree without blaming others.
  • Be aware of your fear and anxiety; don’t reject them, rather explore them with open curiosity.
  • Give your point of view, but also see the bigger picture and express what you need.

If you find yourself in placator mode, in order to find the courage to express your opinión, it can be of use:

  • To be clear about what you want for yourself whilst balancing the needs of others.
  • Acept that you cannot please all of the people all of the time.
  • Know that is OK to voice your opinion whilst remaining open to the point of view of others.
  • If you feel the need to apologise, don’t apologise for who you are, rather for something you did.

In the case of the cold analyser, in order to communicate with others sincerely and so that what you say is of interest to others, it does you good to learn that there is nothing wrong with expressing yourself with feeling.

And as to the whirlwind gremlin it’s best to learn to focus again on the subject under question and

  • Know that it’s no big deal to focus and speak of it.
  • Feel comfortable with who you are.

How to pour oil on the water?

When we are faced with the gremlins, ie the bad behaviour of others, and seeing the red mist they provoke, what can we do? Here are some ideas:

  1. Accept the situation as it stands (this includes the opinions of others) not wishing for something different.
  2. Accept how you feel instead of thinking that you should be feeling differently.
  3. Allow the other person to feel how he/she is feeling. Accept it. It is not in your power to control that.
  4. Ask for what you need.
  5. Welcome another way of seeing things. Create space in your mind for new ideas that others propose. Be aware of the limits of your own belief map.
  6. The word you need is “and” and not “but”. “And” has the power to tame the gremlins. “I think this but you think that” is what the closed mind says, while “I think this and you think that” is what the open mind says. And straightaway you’ve poured oil on the wáter. In this way you suspend your point of view of the world, reflect on how the other person came to his/her conclusion. You become more flexible in your thinking and think, how useful it can be to go back to your perspective with new information.
  7. Imagine trying on the other person’s shoes: try to think like the other person. Try on their feelings and emotions.
  8. Decide how far you are prepared to go towards responding to the needs of the other person.

*Once again my thanks to Caroline Goyder who came up with the term “gremlin” and for much of the content of this newsletter. (See her book “Gravitas”. She mentions the work of Virginia Satir.)

The subject of tricky people and turbulent situations often comes up in our retreats. Not always but often it’s to do with family members.

I would like to leave clear that neither  myself, Geoffrey, nor other members of our family claim to be exemplary “angels”. Our family is large – and we each have our idiosynchroses. We get angry and argue.

However, something that has always helped have been our “Family Meetings” – weekly ones when we lived together. Nowadays, we have one every few months or so. Any family member can call a family meeting. One person assumes the role of “chairman”. The Golden Rule is that only one person can speak at a time. We start with “Bad Things” – a chance to get out what we don’t like, usually the bad behaviour of another. This part can be very uncomfortable – and can involve crying, shouting and anger. Then we move on to “Good Things” – when we start to like each other again and we end with “Changes”. These family meetings are exhausting and personnally they leave me all a-tremble but nearly always things get better afterwards.

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