December 7th, 2008

ozarque figure

Personal note; technical glitch...

LJ and I are locked in some sort of technical struggle, and it's not helping matters. To post my responses to your comments, I click on the reply link in the usual way -- and LJ proceeds to insert my response under some other comment. I'm sorry about this, but I don't seem to be able to do anything about it. If you have any suggestions, they'll be welcome.
ozarque figure

The Phony Leveler; responses to some questions/comments...

Thank you for all your comments and responses to the Phony Leveler post; I've been enjoying the discussion. There are three items that I'd like to try to offer some clarification for...

1. carbonel asked me to post some examples of Phony Leveling -- an entirely reasonable request. The problem is that, so far as I know, it can't be done. Although there are a few typical vocabulary tendencies, any sequence of words can be used in any Satir Mode; the way you know which of the modes the example belongs to is by the body language -- especially the intonation and tone of voice -- that accompanies the words. Phony Levelers can use all of the Satir Modes with ease and skill, and they make their choices among the modes on the basis of their communication strategy at the time. This means that there's no way to predict what a given Phony Leveler might say on any occasion.


2. rozasharn and conuly have suggested that Phony Levelers are sociopaths. I not only understand that, there was a time when I agreed with it, and when I said so in my books. As the years have gone by, however, my opinion about this has changed. Sociopaths [sometimes also called psychopaths], by definition, have no conscience. I don't think that Phony Levelers are without a conscience; I think that they have a sort of "empathy deficiency." That is, their interest in the game(s) they are playing with language is much stronger than their ability to understand or appreciate the effect those games have on other people. Their language games are the focus of their interest in life in the way that golf is a golf pro's focus of interest, or the way piano music is a concert pianist's focus of interest. That makes them no less dangerous, but -- in my opinion -- it isn't equivalent to sociopathy.


3. dpolicar wanted to know why I singled out Phony Leveling -- why I didn't discuss Phony Blaming and Phony Placating and Phony Computing and Phony Distracting. It's an excellent question, and it takes us back to an issue that we've had some very heated discussions about in this journal in the past: the question of "manipulation" in language.

My position is that it's impossible to speak, write, or sign without being manipulative. Even in the most minimal case, when you speak to someone you do everything you can to persuade that person to listen to you instead of listening to something (or someone) else, and to let you finish what you want to say instead of interrupting you. That is, in itself, a form of manipulation. Since I believe that to be true, I feel that it's far better to understand how manipulation with language works and to do it with skill instead of just winging it. And I do my best to teach that to students and clients. I believe that the more someone understands that material, the less likely they are to misuse that understanding and skill -- just as the more skilled someone is in a physical martial art, the less likely they are to use it to harm others. People who are completely confident of their ability to handle whatever conflict comes their way don't feel obliged to prove anything.

The reason I single out Phony Levelers is because they do misuse their understanding and their skill. The other "phonies" aren't able to do that, however much they might want to.


Over to you...