In Part One, we took an overview of language use: discussing what is hostile langugage, the cost of using hostile language, and the necessity--or rather, the lack thereof--of hostile language.
In a href="http://lizditz.typepad.com/i_speak_of_dreams/2004/06/part_ii_how_to_.html">Part Two, we went over three Fundamentals of hearing and defusing conflict: Detachment, Listening and Metaphor--how to get to the ability to detach (or differentiate); how to cultivate our listening skills; and how the underlying metaphor(s) people use impact communication.
Here in Part Three, we are discussing the four techniques: "Satir Mode", Presuppositions, Managing Verbal Attack Patterns, and tension and rapport managment.
To review, hostile language has two characteristics
- It relies very heavily on personal words: I, you, our company, this family, and personal names. (Note: sometimes the personal is alluded to, not direct: People who NEVER get to WORK on time shouldn't exPECT to keep their JOBS!)
- It contains acoustic stresses--emphasis--on words and parts of words. These stresses are used only to express hostility.
Elgin describes a seven-step method for presenting your own point of view in a conflictual setting, and how to hear and respond to hostile language:
- Stay Detached
- Listen--Really Listen
- Choose Your Metaphor
- Choose Your Satir Mode
- Control Your Presuppositions
- Avoid and Defuse Verbal Attack Patterns
- Build Tension/ Build Rapport
So what are the "Satir Modes"?
Defining the Satir Modes
Virginia Satir was a brilliant family therapist who noticed that people tend to use one of five "channels" or modes as their underlying communication patterns. She named them
Blaming can be captured by the mental attitude of: "there's a problem and it is all your fault and I will make you suffer for it."
Placating can be captured by the attitude: "you defined the problem, and I will take all responsibility for it if you will just back off".
Computing is a response that is flat, factual, and without emotion: "A problem has been detected and defined."
Leveling can be depicted by the response: "Yep, there's a problem, I caused it, and and I will fix it" (note that the speaker is exhibiting no guilt, dismay, or defensiveness, but is projecting ownership of the problem)
Distracting is when the speaker cycles through all the previous modes in an attempt to remove attention from the problem.
Blaming and Placating modes are often "sung" to acoustic stresses, and so are often also hostile language. Distracting can be "sung" also.
When You Have To Deliver A Negative Message
Elgin urges the reader to categorize the type of negative message she or he must deliver. To recap, there are four:
- The utterance which imparts facts which are likely to be painful to the listener (bad news).
- A loved one has has died
- You have a serious illness
- Your child has been arrested
- The utterance in which "I"--the speaker--disputes the facts, or sets up an objective limit.
- You said the plane leaves at 6:15. My ticket says departure is 6:30.
- You are 5'1" tall. The minimum height for this job is 5'3". We cannot hire you.
- The utterance in which "I"--the speaker's--states that the something about the listener has not met a defined standard.
- You have made six errors on this report; the limit is three.
- Talking about a person behind her back is called triangulating and we don't do that here.
- Your hair is touching your collar, that is against our dress code.
- You know better than to swear in front of the kids.
- The utterance in which "I"--the speaker's--objects or has a negative reaction tothe listener's behavior or utterances.
- Don't tell me so and so is late. When she comes in to work isn't our business.
- I don't like people who gossip.
Imagine you are in the situation where you have to deliver one or more of the negative messages, as above. Let us say the situation is that a co-worker or fellow student is trying to get you to participate in a bitch/complain session about a third party, and you don't wan't to. How do you respond to this conflict?
If you have time, you may want to respond very slowly, perhaps writing your answers t the following questions.
Step one: Decide what your responsive message should be.
Do you disagree with the facts--or alleged facts--that your co-worker is presenting?
Do you disagree with the feelings--the emotions she is expressing?
Or do you disagree with both the facts and the emotions?
Do you object to one particular utterance of your co-worker? Or do you object to the underlying actions or perceptions that utterance represents?
Is your disagreement with your co-worker based on principle?
Is your disagreement with your co-worker based on opinion?
Is your disagreement with your co-worker based on something else?
Step Two: Try to develop a positive response
Can you generate some element on which everyone could agree or be positive?
The point of this book, and this chapter, is to invite the reader to become a more conscious communicator. A person can communicate unconsciously, or develop consciously using the Satir modes.