You are on page 1of 5

Satir coping stances

"Our challenge now is to develop human beings with values: moral, ethical, and humanistic. For me, this means learning how to be congruent, and that leads to becoming more fully human. When we achieve that, we will be able to enjoy this most wonderful planet and the life that inhabits it." - Virginia Satir When we are not in balance, we are likely to cope with change in an unbalanced, less effective way.

Balancing Self, Other and Context


We say we're congruent, if we've balanced self, other, and context. That also eans we !can" co unicate !at that o ent" congruently - our verbal and body language express the sa e essage. We can apply this si ple odel to two individuals or to organisations. The odel itself will beco e ore clear with so e exa ples of incongruent coping stances later on. Self is usually an individual or a group, uch like other !although self is probably ore often an individual", other is another individual or a group, or aybe the corporation Self works for. #ontext is the here and now, aybe its' a pro$ect we're working on or our clients' client. %t's a odel, we get to choose how we use it. We can recogni&e incongruent coping, because one or ore of the three ingredients !Self, 'ther or #ontext" are issing fro the interaction. ( warning - incongruence is best detected by ourselves. %f we label so eone else as incongruent, we risk stepping into the trap of bla ing. We will illustrate the stances with an exa ple dialogue between a software developer ) and his anager *. The software developer co es to the anager because he found that the build was broken this orning.

+la ing
,%t's your fault-,. When we are bla ing, we take no account of other. %t's definitely not our fault so ething is a iss. The typical body stance for this would be finger pointing. (s .erry Weinberg says/ where do the other three fingers point to, when one finger is pointing away0 +la ing is usually ade possible, because 'thers are placating.

This work is licensed under a #reative #o

ons 1icense

page 2 of 3

E ample )/ When % ca e in this orning, % found that the build was broken. %t took e 2 hour to find the cause and fix it. */ )id you break the build again0 This is already the fifth ti e- 4ou're always so sloppy. )/ Well, % noticed that 5eter was the last one to check in code yesterday... */ So now you're bla ing so eone else ... you never take responsibility for your actions-

5lacating
,%' not worthy, it is all y fault,. When we are placating, we accept bla e, or bla e ourselves, even when we had nothing to do with it. When we placate, we believe we try to prevent conflict. *ostly, we only delay conflict, or set ourselves up for ore bla ing 6 placating. 'ften the coping hurts us ore than dealing with the conflict, but that is hard to notice. %n placating, we have erased Self fro the picture. E ample )/ When % ca e in this orning, % found the build was broken. %t took e 2 hour to find the cause and fix it. */ 'h, %' so sorry. % should have provided you with better tools)/ % noticed 5eter was the last one to check in code yesterday. */ %' so sorry. % should have checked 5eter was working with a pair. 5lease forgive e-

Superreasonable 6 #o puting
,The process anual states that all processes ust confor to standard x.y.&.728,. When we are being superreasonable we want to apply general theories, whether they apply to the context or not. Self and 'ther are issing. We are being professional, and e otions are irrelevant. 9oing one level deeper, we ay act superreasonable to hide our bla ing !,you are not confor ing to the process anual. 4ou are a bad bad person," or, ore often, our confusion and helplessness. ( few exa ples of possibly superreasonable behaviour/ ,:esponsibility is essential to opti al perfor ance, as a reaction to so eone doing so ething that you find irresponsible; ,+ig design upfront is accepted by professional software developers as the best way to ake software future proof, as a reaction to a developer proposing to do the si plest thing that could possibly work.

This work is licensed under a #reative #o

ons 1icense

page < of 3

We ust be careful not to of the following for /

ake ourselves guilty of ,authority fallacies,. Such fallacies are

( person is !clai ed to be" an authority on a Sub$ect. This person akes a #lai about the Sub$ect. Therefore, #lai is true !in all contexts, for there can only be 'ne". This fallacy is co itted when the person in =uestion is not a legiti ate authority on the Sub$ect. *ore for ally, if a person is not =ualified to ake reliable clai s in the Sub$ect, any argu ent will be fallacious. Where did context dissapear to $ust now0 E ample ! )/ When % ca e in this orning, % found that the build was broken. %t took e 2 hour to find the cause and fix it. */ To err is hu an, so we all have to spend ti e to fix proble s now and then. Why are you co plaining0 E ample " ) When % ca e in this orning, % found that the build was broken. %t took e 2 hour to find the cause and fix it. */ Was proper procedure followed for checking in the code0 )/ Well, %t was 5eter who was the last to check in code, yesterday afternoon. */ Well, according to our Software >ngineering 9uidelines section # 5aragraph 3, every developer has to check in his code before he goes ho e. So 5eter followed the right procedures. % don't see what you co e to y office for - everything is as it should be. The #orporate Software >ngineering 5rocess 9roup didn't write these guidelines for nothing, you know...

%rrelevant
,'h, look what a pretty flower,. (s with superreasonable, Self and 'ther usually are out of the picture. %n addition, #ontext is issing co pletely. 'ften used to counter superreasonable !when we can't or won't find a counter-supereasonable stance as in ,but in section x.y.&.2? it is stated...., ". %rrelevance can be used to ake difficult situations bearable - in a way highly relevant. (nother way, like placating, to avoid conflict. We ay easily !often incorrectly" be led to believe 'thers behave irrelevantly, when we do not understand their behaviour in the current situation.

This work is licensed under a #reative #o

ons 1icense

page 8 of 3

E ample )/ When % ca e in this orning, % found that the build was broken. %t took e 2 hour to find the cause and fix it. */ )id you see the soccer atch yesterday evening0 )/ Well, % did, but % was talking about the broken build... */ (nd did you like the atch0 % really en$oyed it, it was uch better than the one last week... The penalty shoot-out was breathtaking)/ +ye...

1oving 6 hating
,'h, she's the greatest, or ,'h, % hate his guts,. #ontext is co pletely out of the window, and Self and 'ther are locked in conflict !or utual ad iration". This ay lead us to e.g. ove deck chairs while our beloved ship is sinking or keep us fighting about our contract with a client instead of working with the client to save the pro$ect !and both of our butts". E ample ! )/ When % ca e in this orning, % found that the build was broken. %t took e 2 hour to find the cause and fix it. */ 1et e guess, it was 5eter again0 @e's always checking in faulty code- (nd he not only writes s elly code, he stinks- @e is always asking stupid =uestions, his clothing taste sucks... he sucks- @e can't do anything right- % wonder who's hired this guy...he should be firedE ample " )/ When % ca e in this orning, % found that the build was broken. %t took e 2 hour to find the cause and fix it. % noticed that 5eter was the last one to check in yesterday afternoon. */ %' sure 5eter didn't check in faulty code, he's such a s art guySo eone else ust have ade a istake. 5eter is our senior expert software developer. % hope he doesn't ind too uch fixing all the istakes you and the others ake. % should give hi a raise really, he's such a great guy. Brought to you by: *arc >vers !5iece eal 9rowth" Aynke Bok a !*oebius" Wille van den >nde !1iving Software +.V."

This work is licensed under a #reative #o

ons 1icense

page ? of 3

This handout is licensed under a #reative #o ons 1icense !(ttribution, Aonco Share (like - http/66creativeco ons.org6licenses6by-nc-sa6<.3 " Links: www.satirworkshops.co www.piece ealgrowth.co www.wille vandenende.co www. oebius.nl www.gifted-adults.co www.avanta.net www.satirsyste s.co

ercial,

This work is licensed under a #reative #o

ons 1icense

page 3 of 3