Do you recognize any of the following dysfunctional communication styles?
- Sensitive Sally - Hides behind their fragile emotions: "I'm so fragile...you hurt my feelings". Their motto - "Don't tell me the truth, I can't handle it". A Sensitive Sally typically cries when you confront them.
- Mad Max - Uses rage to keep anyone from telling them the truth; intimidates you with their anger. Their motto - "I must protect myself from being wrong".
- Suicidal Sam - Threatens suicide to distract from dealing with reality. Their motto - "I will kill myself if (you don't let me ___)". **The best way to deal with Suicidal Sam is to contact the authorities and have them admitted to the hospital for psychological assessment, for their safety.
- Lying Larry - They will say anything to win an argument, whether it is true or not. Their motto - "I will change the story until I am right".
- It's My Fault Walt - interrupts every confrontation with "it's all my fault" in order to shut down the conversation. Their motto - "I won't face the truth, I'll get pity instead".
- I Stay Mad Chad - If you confront them, they will stay made for a long time. Their motto - "I will stay mad to keep you from confronting me. I'll tell everyone this so they don't confront me either".
- Lisa the Loudmouth - A confrontation with them is a community affair. Their motto - "Don't confront me or I will tell everyone and turn them against you".
- Valerie the Victim - They build the drama up and paint themselves as the victim. Their motto - "Rescue me from this confrontation, someone...please".
- Bigot Bob - Hides behind their race, handicap or sexual orientation to keep people from telling them the truth. They say things like, "the reason you are telling me this is because I am ___". Their motto - "I won't take responsibility, I'll play the victim instead".
- Betty the Boss - Uses their rank to shut you down, even if they are wrong. Their motto - "I am the boss and you are not, so shut up".
- Smart Art - Uses intellect to intimidate. Distracts from confrontation by using big words and heavy rhetoric that are irrelevant. Their motto - "I hide behind my intellect because I am afraid of this confrontation".
- The Lori Story - Tells stories that are so long and convoluted they are difficult to follow. No one wants to confront them because it takes too long. Their motto - "I'll distract them with the details until they forget what they are upset about".
- Twist the Truth Ruth - Always twists true events to deflect responsibility. You can verify their main events, they just didn't happen the way they describe them. Their motto - "Bend the truth so it doesn't look so bad".
- Silent Violet - Refuses to engage. "I don't know" is their favourite line. Their motto - "Retreat, lock up and stay inside...forever".
- Remember November - Brings up things you did 10 years ago. Their motto - "You have a problem with me, well I have a problem with you (even if it's not relevant to what we are talking about, I'll be sure to have something)!"
In order to have healthy relationships, it's important to avoid using these unhealthy avoidance techniques. If you identify as someone who responds in these ways, it could be helpful to discuss this with a professional.
Dr. Kelly Palfy - Peaks and Valleys Psychology
(Adapted from Healthy Confrontation by Pastor Kris Vallaton, Feb. 01, 2019)