Renowned psychiatrist and consultant mark Goulston tells how to emerge victorious from the destructive communication. He has extensive experience with the mentally ill, which allowed him to create the course of the negotiators for the FBI, and he knows that traditional methods of communicating and reasoning with them is not valid.
Goulston share their best techniques of how to get through to irrational people. He resorted to these methods to reconcile warring colleagues and save the marriage. You will also be able to use them to keep control of the irrational people in my life.
How to talk to m*Dacians
To get through to irrational people, you need to know why they behave this way. In addition, you need to understand why reasoned debate and logical arguments do not work, unlike empathy, and immersion in the problem.
After working psychiatrist for decades, I can say that I understand mad men, including the deeply sick people.
I’m willing to bet that almost every day you are faced with at least one irrational person.
For example, the boss demanding the impossible. Picky parent, an aggressive teenager, a fellow rocker or yelling at your neighbor, weeping quarrelsome lover or a client with unreasonable claims.
Saying “crazy” or “madman”, I mean that the person behaves irrationally.
There are four sign that the people with whom you are dealing with the irrational:
- 1) they have no clear picture of the world;
- 2) they say or do things that make no sense;
- 3) they make decisions or take actions not in their interests;
- 4) when you are trying to put them back on the path of prudence, they become absolutely unbearable.
Key: to become crazy
The tools, which I will discuss when using require courage. Because you will not just ignore the crazy and wait until they leave. You will not argue with them or try to convince them. Instead, you will have to experience the madness and start to behave the same way.
Many years ago someone explained to me what to do, when the dog grabbed your hand. If to trust my instincts and draw back his hand, the dog will dig his teeth in deeper. But if you use a non-obvious solution and drive the hand deeper into the throat, the dog loosened his grip. Why? Because the dog wants to swallow what she needed to relax the jaw. Then you pull the hand.
In a similar way it is possible to interact with irrational people. If you treat them like they’re crazy, and you are not, they are just deeper in the crazy thoughts. But if you are acting crazy, it will dramatically change the situation.
Here is an example.
After one of the worst days of my life on the way home! I thought about befallen me trouble and driving on autopilot. Unfortunately for me, all this happened in an extremely dangerous for California rush hour.
At some point I accidentally clipped the pickup truck, which sat a man with a wife. He angrily honked at, and I waved to show that I apologize. But then just a couple of kilometers later, I again cut him off.
Then the man caught me and abruptly stopped the truck in front of my car, forcing me to pull over. Slowing down, I saw his wife frantically gesticulating, begging him not to leave the car.
Of course, he paid no attention to her and in a few moments were already on the road – under two meters tall and weighing 140 pounds. He abruptly approached me and started pounding on the glass, yelling obscenities.
I was so stunned, I even rolled down the window to hear him. Then I waited till he would pause to after to pour on me even more bile.
And when he paused to take a breath, I said to him: “Have you ever been so terrible day that you just had hoped that someone pulled out a gun, shoot you and put an end to all suffering? That someone is you?”
His jaw dropped. “What?” he asked.
Up to this point I’ve been very stupid. But suddenly I did something brilliant. In some incredible way, despite the foggy mind, I said exactly what you need.
I tried to make a deal with this frightening man – most likely, instead, he’d pulled me out of the car and hit in the face with his huge fist. I wasn’t trying to resist. I just became the same crazy and hit him with his own weapon.
He stared at me, and I spoke again: “Yes, I’m serious. I don’t usually cut people and never would stab someone twice. Just today, a day when no matter what I do and who I meet – including you! – everything goes awry. You will be the one who mercifully put an end to my existence?”
He changed immediately, calmed down and began to encourage me: “Hey. What are you, man, ‘ he said. – Everything will be fine. Honestly! Relax, we all have bad days.”
I continued my tirade: “easy for You to say! You today ruin everything it touches, unlike me. I don’t think I have anything will be good. Will you help me?”
He enthusiastically continued: “No, really. I’m not kidding! Everything will work out. Get some rest.”
We talked for a few minutes. He then returned to the truck, said something to his wife and waved me in the mirror as if to say, “Remember. Calm down. All will be well.” And left.
Now I’m not proud of this story. Honestly, the guy in the pickup was not the only irrational person on the road that day. But here’s what I mean.
The big guy could beat me easy. And, perhaps, would have made it if I tried to reason with him or argue with him.
But I met with him in his reality where I was a bad person and he had every reason to hit me. Instinctively using a technique which I call aggressive discipline, I turned it from enemy to ally in less than a minute.
Fortunately, my reaction was natural, even the really bad day. It happened because I was for many years a psychiatrist put yourself in the place crazy. I’ve done it thousands of times, in different ways, and I understand that it works.
Moreover, I know that this will work for you.
Mask psycho is a strategy that you can use with any irrational person.
For example, to talk:
- • with a partner who yells at you or refuses to talk to you;
- • child screaming “I hate you!” or “I hate myself!”;
- • with an aging parent who thinks you don’t care about him;
- • with the employee, constantly rascisim at work;
- • with the Manager who all the time tries to hurt you.
No matter what type of household of crazies you are dealing with – the ability to become crazy will allow you to get rid of the failed communication strategies and to reach people.
As a result, you will be able to engage in virtually any emotional situation and feel confident and controlling everything.
Cycle prudence is the policy of the “fight or flight”
Please note that you have to consciously grow into the role of a psycho, because your body does not want you to act this way.
When you are dealing with an irrational person, the body sends you signals to warn of the danger.
As some will notice it and see for yourself: the throat is compressed, the pulse quickens, begins to hurt the stomach or head. For a physiological reaction, sometimes it is enough just to name the unpleasant acquaintance.
This is your reptilian brain says you should attack or run away. But if the irrational people are part of your personal or professional life, none of the instinctive reactions will not help solve the problem.
I’m going to teach you to work with madness quite differently, using a six-step process. I call it the “virtuous cycle” (Fig. 1.1).
Fig. 1. Cycle prudence
Here’s what you need to do at each stage of this cycle.
1. Understand that the person you encounter in this situation are not able to think rationally. Realize that the deep roots of his irrationality lie rather in the distant (or not so distant) past, but not at the moment, so now you will hardly be able to argue or convince him.
2. Define the modus operandi of another person – a unique set of actions, which he uses, not being yourself. His strategy needs to knock you off balance, make you angry, to fear, to feel frustration or guilt.
When you realize the course of action, you’ll feel more calm, focused and in control and can choose the appropriate counter line.
3. Realize that crazy behavior does not concern you. But it says a lot about the person with whom you are dealing with. Ceasing to take personally his word, you deprive the enemy of important weapons.
However, use during a conversation need psychological tools, they will keep you from having to fall into madness.
These tools will allow you to avoid “capture the tonsils” – an intense emotional reaction to a sudden threat.
This term, coined by psychologist Daniel Holmanom describes the state when the amygdala – the part of your brain responsible for the formation of fear blocks rational thinking.
4. Talk to an irrational person, plunging into the world of his madness, quietly and focused. First, take for granted the innocence of the person. This means that you have to believe that is actually a good man, and his behavior is the cause. Try not to condemn, but to understand what was the reason.
Secondly, imagine you are experiencing the same emotions: aggression, misunderstanding, danger.
5. Show that you are an ally, not an enemy: calm and listen carefully to the person until it produces steam. Instead of interrupt, let him speak. So you surprise the man who is waiting for counter-attacks, and get close with him.
You can even apologize. And the more carefully and sensitively you will reflect the emotions of the opponent, the sooner he will begin to listen to you.
6. When people calm down, help him move to a more rational action.
These steps are the basis of most psychological techniques that I will teach you (although variations are possible: for example, when dealing with bullies, manipulators or psychopaths).
However, keep in mind that to pass the loop of reason with an irrational person is not always easy and not always fun, and this technique works instantly.
And, as with everything in our lives, there is a risk that it won’t work at all (and there is even the possibility that the situation will worsen).
But if you are trying desperately to reach the source, which is difficult or even impossible to control, this method will probably be the best choice.
But, before moving on to my methods of communication with crazies, I’d like to talk a bit about why people act irrationally. First we will look at what is happening in their brain at the moment, then what happened to them in the past.
Recognize the mechanism of madness
To successfully talk to the crazies, you need to understand why irrational people behave this way. And the first step in this direction – to recognize that they are much more like loonies than you thought.
Select a moment to think about mentally ill people suffering from schizophrenia or delusional depression. You know that talk will not help to solve the problems of these patients?
You do not come to mind to say to them: “Hey, you do realize that is not actually the Antichrist?” or “Not so bad your life is, so take out the gun mouth and go mow the lawn.”
However, I think that’s how you deal with domestic loonies. You somehow think that you will rescue them.
For example, you probably use such phrases.
- • “Calm down – you’re overreacting”.
- • “It don’t make no sense”.
- • “You can’t really believe it. Here are the facts”.
- • “Return to the land, it’s complete nonsense.”
- • “Wait… how did you come up with that?”
Sure you are faced with the popular definition of crazy: this is a man who again and again repeats the same actions expecting new results.
Well, if you constantly communicate with crazies like this, as I described above, not receiving the expected answer, but hoping for it, know that in fact you do not yourself.
Why, you ask?
Because household madness, as a psychosis, is not treated in the usual conversations. It does not use facts or logic.
The psycho, despite your attempts to persuade him, still can not suddenly change their behavior. Madmen do not refuse to change it, they can’t do that.
Most people that behave irrationally, not even a stretch to call it sick, but, like true psychopaths, they are not able to think wisely.
All because the reason for this behavior is a mismatch in the brain (more precisely, in three structures of the brain), and the uncoordinated, the brain cannot normally respond to the arguments of reason.
The scientific basis of insanity
To understand the crazies, you should at least in General terms, to know how to develop crazy. Now I will tell a little about the consciousness and about how we’re going crazy.
First, thinking is needed three divisions of the brain. These three structures are interconnected, but often act independently. Sometimes they quarrel with each other. Under stress, they sometimes lose the connection.
If stress is too severe, the communication between parts of the brain always stops. And often re-configure relationships occurs in such a way that irrational people are trapped in madness.
Neuroscientist Paul Maclean, who first described the triune, or three-part model of the brain in the 1960s, spoke about it in more detail in his 1990 book The Triune Brain in Evolution (“the Evolution of the triune brain”).
Here is a brief description of each structure and its functionality.
- • First, the basic, ancient brain (sometimes called the reptilian brain). He focuses on what is necessary for survival: finding food, mating, escape from danger, attack.
- • The next part is the midbrain, the limbic system. It is found in all mammals and is responsible for the emotions: joy, hatred, desire to protect, sadness, pleasure. And also for the formation of a link between you and your partner or perhaps child.
- • The last layer is the neocortex, the cerebral cortex of the brain, responsible for higher nervous activity. Being the most developed structure of the three, it allows you to make the best decisions, plan and control impulses. Most importantly, it is thanks to the neocortex do you assess the situation objectively and not subjectively.
These different parts of the brain develop sequentially, so they are located in layers one above the other.
When you’re born, all three of the brain is already in your body. If you are lucky, with time between them are formed healthy relationships that enable you to coordinate survival instincts, emotions and logical thought processes.
In this case, each of the three structures can take over control of what is happening, but at the same time supervise all processes will be the most developed evolutionary neocortex.
I call it the triune flexibility.
If you possess it, you are able to approach a situation on the one hand, and the detection of new circumstances to think about for another option and to successfully cope with a task in the new reality.
Having triune flexibility, you can easily adapt to circumstances and be able to cope even with significant setbacks, and these tragedies. Sometimes you still lose control when the disorder causes temporary desynchronization of the three parts of the brain, but quickly come back to normal.
What happens if the experience of the early years of life led to less healthy the connection of parts of the brain?
If the parents criticised you, as an adult, you start to think like this: “to Say what I think, is not quite safely.” If this will occur frequently, then you believe that the world is a dangerous place, and will be afraid and constricted not only in dealing with the critic, but with other people.
Then your three divisions of the brain are blocked and combined just so, as if you constantly see in front of you parents, hear the criticism and think to give the wrong answer either.
And if, for example, a school teacher asks you a question, you keep silent or say, “I don’t know.”
Your brain is trapped triune rigidity, therefore, in any situation, reminding you of the parent is criticism, your feelings, thoughts and actions will roll down to one recurring scenario.
In psychology this is called transfer, or transfer, because you transfer thoughts and feelings about the man there, who interact here and now.
In terms of the triune rigidity three of your brain are United in a reality far removed from the one in which you exist at the moment.
You start it is a mistake to use the old techniques in the context in which they are meaningless, and become unable to adjust their behavior in the future.
The result? Chronic crazy behavior, you are from time to time repeating the same actions and expects that the new reality will still become old, where this behavior was successful.
Three ways to the madness (and one to sanity)
Since insanity is preceded by an imbalance in the functioning of certain areas of the brain, and to work with this condition should not from the outside – trying to reason with an irrational person facts, and from the inside.
To do this is to understand, as basic forms of insanity are placed in our behaviour in the early years of life.
First, there are congenital factors. For example, if a person has inherited genes that allow the tendency to higher anxiety, pessimism, excessive emotionality, his path to insanity will be somewhat shorter than in other cases.
Secondly-and this is no less important factor – children’s experiences and feelings seriously affect the state of mind in subsequent years. I shall now give a few examples.
Life is a constant movement towards the unknown. Making another step into the unknown, we are faced with problems, therefore we feel the excitement, the anxiety, and sometimes both at once.
Sometimes we think that we are too far from the familiar and safe environment, as a result we have separation anxiety.
Over time we learn to overcome such trouble and faced with a new type of anxiety called individualization: childhood goes away, and we begin to worry if we will be able to successfully negotiate adulthood and become successful in adult life. This is a normal stage of psychological development.
In this period of development we are particularly sensitive to the behavior of people close to us. Making a successful step forward, we always look back and there are very important words like “well done, you got it!”.
But if we are faced with an obstacle, then wait for close confirm that there is nothing wrong and it is normal to retreat and try again.
Development always implemented as a series of trial and error with a couple of steps forward, then step back a little bit.
This process is schematically represented in Fig. 2.1.
Fig. 2. Personal development
But what if in the moment we are not getting support? In the face of uncertainty, we lose confidence, less likely to succeed, most often wrong.
It turns out that after each pair of steps forward we make three steps back.
Digesting the similar pattern of behavior, the person loses the ability to evolve and adapt, limit itself to the rigid Trinity primary zones of the brain and result in varying degrees of crazy.
There are three incorrect ways, leading to madness, and one way to keep my sanity. Let’s discuss each of them.
Mistake # 1: spoiled
You had to deal with people who are constantly complaining about something, trying to manipulate or waiting for applause for any reason? It is likely that they are already on the road to madness.
Spoiled is formed differently. Sometimes it happens because parents or guardians rush to comfort the child whenever he is upset.
It happens that too many adults praise children or justify even the most disgusting behavior. Such adults do not realize that spoiling is not the same as to show love and care.
Accustomed to such treatment, the child is doomed to endure a nervous breakdown every time when people do not show respect to him sufficient delight.
Those who in childhood overly indulged, evolving a peculiar form of insanity, when a person in any situation easily convinces himself: “Someone will do it for me”.
Such people believe that to be successful and happy without any effort. They have often formed an unhealthy dependent behavior, because the main goal is to deal with a bad mood, and not finding a constructive solution to problems.
Have you ever had to deal with people who, for any reason, get angry and blame others? It is possible that, seeking at an early age support, in response, they received only criticism. They were in pain; the pain quickly turns to anger.
Mistake # 2: criticism
Children who are constantly scolded and criticized, teenagers trying to get revenge, doing things that adults around them feel ashamed.
Often these young people resorted to more sophisticated ways to vent anger: aggressive suppression of others and behave carelessly behind the wheel, cut themselves or are addicted to piercings.
What happens when a man is faced with a problem? He feels like a victim, but as the most familiar behavior pattern involves only allegations and criticism, he starts to do just that, losing eventually, the ability to forgive and becoming more angry.
Since childhood, these children were abused, their craziness with the years, acquires the following form: “no matter What I do, I’ll never be worthy of approval”.
And even when they manage to succeed, they do not allow themselves to enjoy the moment and wait for the inevitable return to the usual cycle. It is obvious that the world makes them all the more rejection and anger.
Mistake # 3: ignoring
Any idea when man rejects, because I am sure that nothing will come of it, you can safely assume that as a child the adults around them had largely ignored him, and perhaps was inclined to narcissism.
It is also possible that they were just scared, exhausted, overburdened, or even sick.
This also happens with the foster parents, if at heart they are not particularly interested in the child.
Here’s the child won again and looks around for adults to share with them the triumph, but sees that they generally did not notice anything.
Or child have failed and waiting for support – and the adults busy with their own Affairs or problems.
The child becomes afraid, and that is especially bad, he starts to realize that remains with his fears alone.
So the man becomes a pessimist, prepared for defeat and convinced that no idea of anything worthwhile will never be released.
Trying new things becomes more difficult, because you can make mistakes and be back alone with the fear, which he lost in childhood.
Form of insanity of these people: “I will Not nor attempt, nor to take risks.”
Ideal scenario: support
Remember most reasonable and balanced of the famous you people you would call wise, kind, pleasant, sustainable, possessing emotional intelligence.
From my experience I conclude that emotional stability was formed from such people, even in childhood.
They were lucky: every time after winning or losing one of the adults: parents, teachers, mentors provided the necessary support.
These people were neither spoiled nor depressed by criticism and suffered from lack of attention.
Adults taught, guided, helped. While adults are not required to be perfect in everything – otherwise, children growing up in balanced and wise adults, it would be accounted for.
But adults are supposed to provide the child with what I call adequate level of care.
Surrounded by such adults children grow up confident. Faced with the difficulties such a person says to himself: “I got this.”
And all because in childhood he always had the support of loving adults and it is imprinted in the subconscious.
Having failed, these people do not complain, do not blame anyone and not turn in on themselves. They remain positive, acting on the principle: “Hold on world, here I come!”
Sometimes they behave like crazy – it happens to all of us. But for them, madness is only a temporary condition.
(By the way, even if your parents in childhood not enough support you, there is hope. A good coach or teacher can help you gain a healthy attitude – that’s what happened with me. So if in childhood you are much abused, pampered or ignored, look for people who are able to give you the support you need now.)
Temporary and chronic madness
As I said, no one can live a life without time dimness. When severe stress has a negative impact on the brain, any of us – even the most stable and strong in spirit – for a time loses control.
Albert Einstein once said, “the Most important thing for all of us the fact as to whether the world around us is dangerous or safe.”
Unfortunately, the chronically irrational people at some point, accept on this occasion the wrong decision.
Those of us whose three levels of the brain remain healthy in a constant interaction, maintaining flexibility and stability, steadily moving forward.
Those who are not able to overcome the rigidity of the main areas of the brain does not perceive the world as a safe place. They constantly feel threatened, so begin to behave more and more pointless.
They are either for self-preservation (“I am in danger and must do anything to survive”), or on maintaining their own identity (“I am, and only retaining its current identity, I feel confident, competent, capable to control the situation”).
These people seemed to be living in a holographic projection created by them on the basis of past experience and depicting a fictional world. They do not see the new reality. And in this lies a serious danger.
The impression that the chronically irrational human brain behaves like a compass, always pointing at the magnetic pole. And if life is pushing such a person to the East, West or South, with all his strength, rests and does not want to know anything, except the Northern areas, – like if he moves even a step, it will lose control over their own lives or even die.
We understand that this is just resistance to change, but these people think such behaviour is persistence, worthy of praise.
They stubbornly cling to previous knowledge and beliefs, regardless of their relevance.
As a result, all the effort spent to maintain a familiar comfort zone.
And the more the brain is in conflict with a changing reality, the more fiercely the man himself clinging to the familiar picture of the world and especially inappropriately behaved.
The greater the imbalance in the three levels of the brain, the more a person loses touch with reality.
Anxiety turns to panic, and then the person comes into complete despair.
Obviously, in a state of panic these people perceive reality is not so, as you see it, so to them it makes no sense to speak as you would speak with a rational interlocutor.
In your world two plus two is exactly four, and their world is special, maybe six.
A similar picture is observed and in periods of temporary insanity, but chronically irrational human like behavior dominates.
That’s why you can’t help irrational person to regain touch with reality using logical arguments.
So you will have to master the laws of the world, constructed by an insane brain, and be prepared to defend its position in a world where two and two make six.
The time has come to understand what type of crazy you’re dealing with. For this you need to understand the modus operandi (way of doing) of a person.
How to determine the actions of an irrational person
Every murderer has a certain modus operandi (M. O.). For example, one uses a knife, others prefer the bomb, the third bullet.
About the same and all irrational individuals formed an individual type of insanity. Due to this, they can achieve you desired without giving anything in return.
Different psychos find your own ways: crying, go away, sniping, show no emotions or endlessly complain.
Why they behave like that? To maintain control over the situation that they are afraid of losing.
So they subconsciously seek to deprive you of control and find ways to cause you immediate and spontaneous reaction to their behavior.
And this occurs when the amygdala, located in the middle, the emotional part of the brain reacts spontaneously and blocks the prefrontal cortex – the part of the brain located in the frontal lobe and is responsible for logic and rational thinking, and activates your reptilian brain to control the response of “fight or flight”.
If successful, such tactics you are overwhelmed with emotions, and think logically becomes more difficult.
In the end, you either break or looking for ways to avoid further communication, losing the ability to get your interlocutor’s rational view of the situation.
M. O. the irrational man is his arms. But while this is the weakest point, after all, to understand what is the essence of his M. O., you’ll be able to use this information.
Human behavior, sawashiro in a specific M. O., predictable and you always know what kind of reaction on his part to prepare, whether it be tears, hysteria, silence, aggression. And when you are ready, you are much easier to control own emotions.
Identity to the M. O.
The way of thinking of irrational people is a projection to the outside world their identity, i.e. how they themselves perceive, and also formed on the basis of the earliest experiences of relationship to the world in General.
- • People who overly indulged, often become emotionally dependent or seek to manipulate others; they often exhibit an emotional reaction whenever they are going to do something do not want.
- • Those who are constantly berated and criticized, become aggressive or know-it-alls; they can too strictly follow a certain logic or focus exclusively on practical details.