so nobody can be upset with me!


SITE: Communication Styles & Roles




4. DISTRACTERS (Twisted form of Spontaneity)
STYLE: 0.5% of people will typically use this defense
• at first they seem like a lot of fun, but gradually one notices that everything they do is not quite relevant, not quite to the point
• can come across with a ‘who cares’ attitude, are hungry for attention & deflect responsibility from themselves, other people & situations
• can be silly to talk to, funny or confusing, the way young kids act or when people flirt, so are not taken seriously

• distract themselves & others from painful emotions & events by getting attention, being amusing &/or a pain in the butt (EXP: pick fluff off a jacket, make ‘deep’ statements, throw objects, tap pencils….)
• use a range of emotions from anger to guilt to avoid an issue OR manipulate how others feel
• when talking they use generalizations, leave out important facts, shift focus unpredictably from present to past, reality to fantasy, physical to mental issues

• become easily confused when stressed, don’t know what to do, so grasp at straws instead of doing something positive
• react to any kind of threat by going off on a tangent, investing all their energy in side-tracking, hoping it’ll go away if they tap-dance long enough
• under pressure, they cycle thru the other 3 Roles to look for some relief – one minute Blaming someone for being rude, next Placate, then to Computer mode & shut offconfused

• often unfocused, what they say or do is un-related to what’s actually going on, they ignore Qs, respond by changing the subject or ask a Q that’s off-topic
— Others may react by saying: “What has that got to do with what I’ve just said?”.

Energetic Description (by Dr. Bulbrook)
• not grounded, block out Self, others & current context, so the flow of energy is irrational & the circuitry can’t get wired up properly. Not connect spiritually
Potential harm to receiver: they give up trying to relate, unable to have a stable or a positive exchange of energy in the relationship.
OR get tapped into trying to make it ‘all better’

Statements: “If I break up their concentration, I’ll be safe , If I ignore it, it’ll go away , Why don’t we just put that aside now and look at something else , Du-du, du-du, du-du….. the Martians are coming!” (Earth to Mary?!)

Stance: They use kinchange directionesthetic cues
• asymmetrical position, one hand up, one down, head cocked, maybe standing on one leg or leaning against the wall
• body in motion, tilting a little at various angles, uneven ‘balance’
• smiling wryly, one eyebrow raised, implying “see if you can top this!”
★ takes on body posture of the other 3 Roles when switching modes

Gain Power: by successfully diverting everyone’s attention from unpleasantness
Aim: to evoke a longing for fun, so theyll be tolerated

Reacting to a Distracter: (via NLP) You can use the Computer stance until they switch, then recalibrate to Placater or Blamer. Be careful: the super reasonable attitude can also trigger a stronger Distracter response in them

Reality: • they just want to evade any confrontation
• role may seem to be a relief from stress, but actually leaves them feeling lonely & without meaning or purpose (useless)
• are convinced that nobody really wants them
• don’t believe they would be heard or respected if they said what they really thought & felt

Negative:  • the pattern actually serves to create conflict
• their behaviors are inappropriate to serious situations
• makes people change their focus, so confuses & annoys others who can’t understand what the Distracter is getting at, & therefore don’t know how to respondfun

Positive: • great for flirting and having fun
• can be a powerful strategy in negotiations, if the other party is playing hardball, because of unpredictability in the stance, as if ready to grab the desired ‘object’


Satir’s LEVELER Role


so you can believe me

PREVIOUS: Mascot Role

SITE: How to be Assertive without….



Virginia Satir’s ROLES
All roles are learned in childhood. The 4 unhealthy ones are created as defense mechanisms but end up a threat – preventing us from being loved, trusted or being able to grow.  Satir gives 7 reasons why we use these patterns:
• I might make a mistake     • I might impose   •  They might leave me
• Someone will criticize me      • Someone might not like it
• They will think I am no good    • I might be thought of as imperfect

The dysfunctional roles are: Blamer, Computer, Placater & Distracter
The Leveler is the only healthy role

Style: Satir suggested that 4.5% of people will typically use this style, but many psychologists think this is optimistic
• they are emotionally balanced, assertive (not aggressive) & can relate to all kinds of people
• hold strong positive beliefs about themselves & others
• have a conscious positive intention behind everything they do, operate from strong personal values & store positive mind images
• respond to situations in a consistent way – but not rigidly – conducting their life with integrity, commitment & creativity
• are dependable because they are true to their perceptions  balanced
• engage in honest, direct, clear communication, in real-time
• have few threats to their self-esteem, accept stress as normal, are comfortable with ambiguous & uncertain situations
• look for solutions, work out problems realistically & appropriately, their communication style helps resolve conflicts
• establish rapport before trying to influence, so can bring people together
• engage a threat rather than fighting it, sweeping it under the carpet or running away
• apologize when making a mistake & can evaluate the situation fairly, without blame
• ‘tell it like it is’, without exaggerating or minimizing situations
• are comfortable with their emotions & can easily discuss them when appropriate
• have relationships that are easy, free & honest
• may talk intellectually (like the “Computer”), as when lecturing or explaining something, but their emotions are still available

Energetic Description (from Mary Jo Bulbrook)
• Levelers are able to hold their ground, are clear in communicating their needs, set physical & emotional energetic boundaries.  All chakras are about equal, open & flowing, allowing for energy to come in and go out easily
• Potential impact on receiver: Levelers help things grow, & enhance the flow of the other person’s energyrespect cycle

Statements: “I’m relaxed & comfortable because I‘ve got nothing to hide”.  “I like you”.
An important aspect of leveling is the use of “I” statements, which express what they really mean, describe their feelings & wants, while recognizing the feelings & wants of others

Stance: • body, voice & facial expressions all give the same message
• body facing directly towards others, head vertical, relaxed face, even eyebrows, shoulders & hips level, heels directly below the shoulders so that legs are slightly apart, feet facing forward
• both palms facing down, fingers out flat, slightly wider than the body — as if trying to level the situation

Source of Power: comes from finding the most effective behavior for solving problems creatively & in cooperation with othershonest, fair
Negative: they consistently state facts, are straightforward & tell the truth, according to their understanding.
This makes some people uncomfortable, so they tend to get angry at Levelers, feel insulted & stay away

Positive:  Re. SELF –  Satir found that when people start to level (be real), they connect to their body, heart, feelings & brains, which leads to finding their souls & their humanity.
Re. OTHERS – because Levelers are fair & trustworthy, others can depend on them, so they attract people who are also interested in transparency, & no drama.


PLACATER Family Role (Part 1)


I have to make nice


SITE: Conflict Styles


 Role  – a Twisted form of Service
Combination of the Satir & Wegscheider versions

Placater’s GOAL
Provide soothing to make others feel better about themselves & better in general


For Self: try to not keep getting abandoned, to feel safer/not get hurt & be loved, by calming everyone, preventing conflicts or any overt expression of anger
For Family:  When parents are impaired in some way, they become a surrogate. Born negotiators, they seem to have an uncanny ability to ‘read’ what others are feeling, but at their own expense. Learn early to smooth over potentially upsetting situations & take responsibility for everyone’s pain & emotional well-being

BIRTH ORDER: can be oldest child, usually the girl
IN SCHOOL : very compliant, well-liked, so-so students – preoccupied with other’s problems rather than studying
Used as the family social worker, inappropriately told all the adult’s problems, ‘valued’ for not being any trouble

Few self-protective boundaries, don’t have a clear identity of their own, are not in touch with their own emotions & needs, so can’t get them met, are ‘lost’ without someone to please or fix

BELIEFS:placater girl
FROM: “If I’m nice, everyone will like me”
“Don’t rock the boat”
“If I focus on someone else, it won’t be on me & that’s a good thing”
“If I take care of you, you won’t reject or leave me ”
“I’ll do whatever you tell me to do. I’m here to make you happy.”

TO: “It’s ok to have a focus of my own”
“I am likable without having to take care of others”
“I don’t have the power to keep someone with me, but if they stay it’s because of who I am, not what I do for them”
“I can do whatever suits me best, in all situations”

• Develop a high tolerance for inappropriate behavior, will take the blame for things not their fault (ironically), thereby protecting others from taking responsibility for their choices & actions
• Main concern is on themselves & how they’ll be perceived. They react to stress or ‘uncomfortable truths’ by trying to avoid it, sometimes going to extraordinary lengths to avoid confrontations
• May sacrifice themselves – are willing to lose so others can win
• Efface & belittle themselves, while inflating others, to get brownie points & stop possible aggression.
• Actually believe they care so much about others & that no one cares for them. Can be great listeners

Frustrated rage, fear, powerlessness, low self-esteem, guilt. Show shame via victimization, depression, perfectionism

Deep sense of not being good enough just as they are, or the right to get equal attention & caring from others.  Denying personal needs, they’re unable to receive, have ‘false’ guilt, a great fear of conflict & anger, are hyper-vigilant with high anxiety

AS ADULTSover-giving
They’re often in abusive & one-sided relationships (with spouse, children, friends, bosses…), constantly giving without getting anything back.  Are overly responsible so become excellent enablers, marring addicts or other ‘broken’ people. Often choose careers as helping professionals, which can reinforce the tendency to ignore their own needs, such as social workers, nurses, therapists…. (more likely in ‘supportive’ positions, so not often male doctors)

TO: Allow the child to focus on themselves and not others, separate their personal worth from doing/ care-taking, help them to focus on Self instead of others, learn to express emotions & playing

BY: Validating P’s intrinsic value (being vs doing), helping them develop ability to take care of & prioritize needs for themselves (when child IS helping another – ask them what he/she is feeling at the moment)
• Parents (P) talk about & act in ways that reinforcing that prove the adults can take care of themselves & other family members, so the child can relax

NEXT: Placater #2

Family ROLES – Normal

fit in 

& still be me?


See Inner Child MOVIE :
“If you believe



• Most organizations still function is a hierarchical system, with clearly identified Roles** for their members, as in governments, corporations, sports, law enforcement, social groups, most religious congregations, schools (esp. if students are under-age) ….. and of course, families.
Yes, it is possible to have consensus or democratic rule in some of these, BUT ONLY when made up entirely of rational adults
** Roles are ‘social expectations & norms held regarding an individual’s position & behavior within a group’ (Simon, Stierlin & Wynne, 1985)

• To function properly, family systems need to organize themselves to carry out daily challenges & responsibilities, as well as adjust to the developmental needs of its members.  But to understand the dynamics of any family unit, it takes more than just listing who the individuals are – we need to know how they come together & interact.
The family system exists in paradox: it has to be stable to provide continuity over time, while being able to adapt to fluctuations. It’s a balancing act: too much change – the system breaks down, too much stability – it atrophies & dies

• All families organize themselves into hierarchies & then into subsystems, which may be grouped by generation, age, gender…., to accomplish their tasks & goals. These smaller groupings can be grandparents, aunts & uncles, parents & children, males & females, the older & younger, the skilled & unskilled, the sick & well…… Naturally, individuals & the subsystems are influenced by & dependent on one another, so what happens to one affects the othergood fences

• Hierarchies need Boundaries, for:
— a line between subsystems
flow of info into, out from & about the family
— influencing the flow of people allowed in & out of the system

• According to Family Systems Theory, all families strive for a sense of balance or homeostasis, in an effort to find equilibrium between life’s challenges & the family’s resources to handle them. New patterns of interacting with each other will show up to keep inevitable changes from getting out of hand.
When this doesn’t work, additional family rules or dynamics have to be added or adjusted to restore balance. This happens in both healthy & unhealthy systems, but the solutions will be very different!

• This balancing act includes:
🕴 morphostasisa system’s ability to hold its shape & structural stability – by trying to conform ‘perfectly’ to a situation, keep strictly to its rituals, allow only those changes that do not threaten the existence of the family…. in the face of all types of stressor, AND
🕴 morphogenesis (creation of life) – the systems’ ability to change its form, grow systemically over time & adapt to the changing needs of the family

• To keep the unit going & make things harmonious, each family member needs to have an age-appropriate role, which should be stable but not rigid. Ideally, members have specific jobs, governed by rules & strategies

✶ PARENTS are expectparents provideed to fill a wide range of needs for themselves such as financial stability, relaxation & hobbies, mental stimulation, community participation, having a satisfying sexual relationship…..
& provide children with :
The Basics – Daily maintenance, provision of food, clothing, shelter & health care
Emotional needs
• Nurturing, warmth, a sense of home, a genuine feeling of safety & security
• Inclusion, fulfilling the need for love & belonging
• Esteem, giving self-worth, personal value, support, encouragement

Mental & Social needs
• Age-appropriate discipline, setting boundaries, correcting & guiding
• Information, how things are done, help with homework, how to be social, handling of finances
• Privacy, respect for each member’s autonomy & separateness
• Recreation, opportunities to have fun together
• Understanding, having the right to make mistakes & learn from them
Spiritual needs
• encouraged to have meaning & purpose in life, suited to the child
• gain a sense of the larger community & their place in it
• permission to develop a relationship with a Higher Powerchild obey

✶ CHILDREN are expected to learn from, cooperate with & respect their parents (must be age-appropriate) BY:
— helping with tasks around the house
— attending school keeping up with homework
— expressing their intellectual & artistic gifts
— trying out new & interesting skills, games & social settings

• People play many parts in life (social roles) such as parent, sibling, worker, student, lover…. each with it’s own set of requirements & functions.  This is normal & healthy as long as they have a clear sense of a positive core identity to underpin the roles, & feel free to express many different aspects of themselves.

NEXT: Toxic ROLES – #1