Archive for the ‘Bullying’ Category

Communication Idolatry

December 31, 2015


Here is what I notice people do instead of converse:













I am sure you can think of more.

Conversation includes –



requests for a yes or no to go in a certain direction


I find that if a conversation does not set up any of the items on the first list via an agreement – then communication goes poorly. It is almost like communication idolatry to so. In an established healthy relationship or friendship, that ‘agreement’ can be a simple nod or gesture know only to the two parties. The main point is that the agreement must be there or you are throwing mud at the wall.

And a lot people enjoy doing that – making mud pies and throwing them. Nothing wrong with that in many contexts.

People often sense the bullshit even if they stay polite during the interaction where the idolatry has taken place, and if they don’t sense it, they are usually very easy to manipulate. The agreement needs to give some predictability to what is going to happen for involved parties. Even insults can work in that context and not disrupt progress.

So what I think what we can offer, and not even under the title of ‘coach’ or ‘therapist’, is an ability to identify what is happening when there is an interaction between two people. If someone shares an exchange they had with some with us, using the system we can know right away what is missing.

Listen in on social media and blog ‘conversations’, or just ordinary in-person ones.    See what you observe.



Pondering the antidote for the human pride problem is humbling

July 27, 2014


Pride is really a human tendency to want to dominate a situation, to gain something. It is not bad in and of itself. It is important enough to our survival as a species to persist in us despite the hazards it creates. It makes me think of how recessive genes for sickle cell anemia offer immunity to malaria, but when two recessive genes combine in one person, it becomes a painful, debilitating, and deadly disease.

Humility has survival value too, as it has also persisted.  It is in constant use by those who are already worthy of employing it as a pathway to real learning, execution and contribution to betterment. Otherwise it rejects our efforts and in so doing invites  us to step back and retrace some preliminary steps we have not really understood yet.

It won’t insist though. Humility never insists. In so many human efforts, pride will rush in and seem to help us get our bearings. By that point, humility has already stepped back. It has done its job  and we have just failed to heed its guidance.  Humility will let us flounder about uselessly guided by pride until we become exhausted.

Meanwhile, not capable of anything on its own, our pride bounces back by insisting on taking credit for the  fruits of humility. And often not even the fruits of our own humility, but someone else’s.

But ultimately our pride will render us incapable of even utilizing those fruits.

So the meek really shall inherit the earth. I just hope pride doesn’t render earth  a place no longer worth  inheriting.




Do you think you’re better than me?

March 7, 2014

Doesn’t all human anger come down to this? Even if someone steps on your foot by accident, and you get angry, it comes down to you wanting to make sure that they don’t think they can get away with it. After all, anyone who thinks they can get away with hurting someone, even by accident, without some kind of contrition, must feel superior. Or so we tell ourselves, and so we get angry about all kinds of dumb shit.

” Do you think you are better than me?!”

Of course, if you are caught up in this kind of thinking , you are easy to bait, and people will get the better of you, because you care if they think they are better than you.

And that is funny, sometimes. Other times it is sad because you use it as an excuse to be abusive, like Happy Gilmore.

Here’s the thing. The problem isn’t that people think they are better than you. The problem is that you care.

Leverage is just smoke and mirrors in negotiation

March 6, 2014

I am the coach that is quoted in this article from Forbes Magazine. Not too long and worth reading.

Disagreement in families is normal, but disagreement about respect and how to disagree respectfully is threatens safety and stability in family life. (Amended)

October 8, 2013

                What to understand and do to achieve and sustain respect in your family


Disagreement in families is normal and even healthy sometimes, but disagreement about respect and how to disagree respectfully is a direct threat to safety and stability in family life.

There are basically two paths that families go down when it comes to respect.

Path 1 -Respect: teach and build it through example – consistent demonstration of respect; discipline – consequences/protocol for episodes of disrespect; discussion – what is respect?

Path 2 – Respect:  demand it and only give it if you think you’ve gotten it; freely demonstrate disrespect if you don’t get it; assume everyone shares understanding of it

On path 1 – the following descriptions and prescriptions are appropriate:

When more developed(physically, mentally, and/or financially) family members disrespect less developed family members, that is abuse and/or neglect to the less developed, and disruption to more or equally developed witnesses.

Abuse/neglect can be mild and infrequent, so it is not necessarily an emergency.

When less developed family members disrespect more developed family members,that is disruption to the more developed, abuse/neglect to less developed witnesses.

Disruption can be very harmful, so it is not necessarily something to be taken lightly because it comes from a less developed member.

When a family member disrespects a family member of equal development, it is abusive/neglectful to all witnesses less powerful than they are, and disruptive to all the witnesses who are more developed.

It is the duty of more developed family members to stop abuse/neglect of less developed ones, and reduce disruption to the more developed ones. In other words, preserve safety and stability.

It is the duty of the less developed family members to learn how to be respectful so they can develop in appropriate ways.

When a more developed family member persists in being abusive/neglectful, other family members have the right to call a meeting and/or seek outside help.

When a less developed family member persists in being disruptive, other family members have the duty to call a meeting and/or seek outside help.


*Path 2 becomes the norm in families where path 1 protocol is not adhered to or simply fails.

Two ways to raise the debt ceiling without Congress

October 7, 2013

The Chairman of the Federal Reserve can waive the Federal Reserve Act’s prohibition against the Fed lending directly to the treasury.

The Secretary of the Treasury can hold the 14th Amendment as the overriding instruction as it says that ” the debt of the United States government, lawfully issued,  shall not be questioned.”

Each would risk being impeached or fired.

But it is expected that one of them would take the risk considering the alternative.

So when you hear all the bluster from both sides before the 17th, keep this in mind. They are counting on being bailed out.   They want to look tough, but they are really not tough at all.  

They are just compensating for being horrible negotiators.

Thoughts on George Zimmerman’s true intentions the day he shot Treyvon Martin

July 15, 2013

 I’d like to say the following to George Zimmerman:

“When you follow a stranger, you know you  are going to be seen as a threat. It is reasonable for them to be afraid of you. You know it is also reasonable for them  to choose  force to end the threat. You know that may happen. And if it does, if you have a gun, to defend yourself, you know you will shoot the person you followed and scared to the point  that they assaulted you. You had to know ahead of time that you would shoot them if they defended themselves  from a threat any reasonable person would feel in the situation you put them in by following them.  But were you really interested in safety, in defending yourself,  when you decided to follow them? Of course not. If you weren’t interested in safety, what motivated your decision? You wanted something else. You must have. You wanted to scare them,  and if they didn’t  run away or stand down, but dealt with the threat they felt with force,  you planned to shoot them . Why else would you follow a stranger with a gun other than to be  absolutely sure you would  get them to submit  to your will for them?  There was an easy way and a hard way,and it turned out to be the hard way,  but you were going to get your way George,  no matter what,  that day.  You were tired of feeling like a victim.  You had had it.  ”

Is there any reasonable doubt that GZ was aware of all of the above. None at all. He knew all that I just wrote beyond a reasonable doubt. Anyone knows this stuff beyond a reasonable doubt. It is common sense.  That is why only predators  follow strangers. Regular folk never follow strangers.

 The victim mentality turns people into predators. That’s what  it did to George Zimmerman.

DSM5’s buried but very real threat to psychotherapy

May 24, 2012

To  therapists anyone concerned with it,

 A colleague of mine recently had a paper accepted by Journal of Clinical Psychiatry with some interesting information on the PHQ-9.  I copied the abstract below, but here are some of the highlights.  When comparing the depression severity ranges between the PHQ-9, QIDS, CUDOS, and HAM-D in a sample of 245 outpatients who had been diagnosed with MDD, he found that the majority scored in the moderate range on the CUDOS and HAM-D whereas a majority scored as severe based on the PHQ-9 and QIDS.  The PHQ-9 also had significantly more patients scoring in the severely depressed range compared to the QIDS.  Among patients rated as mildly depressed on the HAM-D, one quarter scored in the severely depressed range on the QIDS, and one third scored in the severely depressed range on the PHQ-9.

Until I had read my colleague’s paper, I was not aware that the DSM-5 Depressive Disorders Workgroup is recommending using the PHQ-9 as a preferred measure.  In light of my colleague’s findings, I wondered if perhaps there might be some unintended consequences to using the PHQ-9 with respect to treatment recommendations.  As noted in my colleague’s paper, NICE guidelines recommend psychotherapy as a first-line treatment for mild depression, and pharmacotherapy with psychotherapy is recommended for moderate and severe depression.  If a greater proportion of patients would be classified as severely depressed based on the PHQ-9 compared to other measures, I wonder if this could have consequences for psychotherapy being less likely to be recommended as a treatment option? Do others have thoughts on this? Please comment on this on the DSM 5 website.

 Zimmerman, M., Martinez, J., Friedman, M., Boerescu, D.A., Attiullah, N., Toba, C. (in press).  How Can We Use Depression Severity to Guide Treatment Selection When Measures of Depression Categorize Patients Differently?  Journal of Clinical Psychiatry

 Objective: Treatment guidelines for depression suggest that severity should be taken into account when initiating treatment. If clinicians are to consider illness severity in selecting among treatment options for depression then it is important to have reliable, valid, and clinically useful methods of distinguishing between levels of depression severity. In the present report from the Rhode Island Methods to Improve Diagnostic Assessment and Services (MIDAS) project we compared three self-report scales assessing the DSM-IV criteria for major depression in the distribution of patients into severity categories.

 Methods: Two hundred forty-five depressed outpatients completed the Clinically Useful Depression Outcome Scale (CUDOS), Quick Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology (QIDS), and Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9). The patients were subdivided into severity categories according to the cutoff scores recommended by each scales’ developers. The patients were also rated on the 17-item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAMD).

 Results:  The correlations between the HAMD and the 3 self-report scales were nearly identical. Yet, the scales significantly differed in their distribution of patients into severity categories. On the CUDOS and HAMD moderate depression was the most frequent severity category, whereas on the PHQ-9 and QIDS the majority of the patients were classified as severe. Significantly fewer patients were classified severely depressed on the CUDOS compared to the PHQ-9 (p<.001) and QIDS (p<.001).

 Discussion: If clinicians are to follow treatment guidelines’ recommendations to base initial treatment selection on the severity of depression, then it is important to have a consistent method of determining depression severity. The marked disparity between standardized scales in the classification of depressed outpatients into severity groups indicates that there is a problem with the use of such instruments to classify depression severity. Caution is warranted in the use of these scales to guide treatment selection until the thresholds to define severity ranges have been empirically established.





“When did you become such a fun-guy?” deflating a bully

May 11, 2012

One of the best ways to disrupt bullying and teasing is to ask a question that invites the other party to try to make sense. Since teasing is just a way for them to get off, they are not going to make much sense, trust me.    I recommend questions that expose that immature selfish motive.     The most important thing is to keep them talking and trying to explain themselves. When they get confused, and they will, help them out by just being kind and letting them know that they don’t have to answer right now -maybe some other time after they have given it some thought. Don’t turn into the dick that they were being. It can be tempting though 🙂

Here are some questions to get them talking. You may only have to ask one of them. The less you talk the better. Let them squirm until you feel it is appropriate to help them have a soft landing as they are spinning around in a disoriented state since you killed their buzz

I’d like to ask you a question, ok?

If no, then sayYou must have better things to do than deal with me. See ya. “

If yes, then ask:

How fun is this for you?

If they try to deny that this is about having fun – then ask this:

What makes it important to you to do this then? “

Who does it benefit?”

Who will suffer if you stop?

If they say it is fun, ask them this:

When did you become such a fun loving guy?

What do you really like about it?

What else do you like about it?

What would make it more fun?

if they answer “I don’t know” or ‘maybe’ at any time – you got ’em – they have lost their way.

Do you belong to the power system?

May 8, 2012

Power situtations can only exist where there is a contract, arrived at voluntarily or otherwise , in which people will do things or else things will be made difficult for them. …When there is no such contract – where one party can do without the other one  – NO POWER SITUATION CAN EXIST. Neither can it be deemed to exist. But, faces with a situation in which there is no power ingredient, people CONTINUE TO BEHAVE AS IF THEYCAN COERCE OR BE COERCED.

In doing this,  they give themselves away. To any observer who is aware of the power phenomenon, they clearly show that they belong to the power system and want to operate it.

Since the receipt and exercising of power is imagined to be connected with forceful behavior, people cannot any longer identify a power situation.

They generally become furiously angry when this is pointed out to them.

Idries Shah  Knowing How to Know

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