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19 Tactics to Avoid Change

This person takes the offensive by trying to put others down, thus avoiding a put down himself. He uses sarcasm, attempts to make others look ignorant, or accuses others of having the same or worse faults that he has. He gets a sense of triumph out of embarrassing others.

This person constantly sizes up others, especially authority figures, so he can feed them what they supposedly desire to hear. He uses a variety of deceptive tactics. This is an exercise of power and control to gain personal advantage.
He tries to convince others of his sincerity, appearing open and agreeable. He may appear to respond thoughtfully to make others think they are having some impact. Al the while, he is figuring out their orientation so as to better b e able to “feed it back” to them. These people put up a facade (act) of cooperation, and commitment even if they are simultaneously and secretly violating left and right.

This person decides how advantageous it is to volunteer information. It is typical for someone to ask this person what he has been doing during a specific time period and get only the reply “nothing much”. If pushed, he may respond, “It’s personal”, “drop it”, “I’d rather not go into it”, or “I can’t talk about it now”. When something is concealed in this way and is later revealed, and this person is asked why he had not reported it, he explains, “I didn’t think it was important at the time”, or “I forgot”. What they consider “important” is anything that puts him in a favorable light. He omits anything to the contrary.

This person is reluctant and wary in any transaction in which he is held accountable. As he tries to avoid a penalty, receive a privilege, or gain anything, he knows the truth will usually work against his best interest. He may use denial (“I don’t remember”), offer excuses, or blame others to attempt to avoid responsibility. “Lies of omission” are the most common. He knows that telling a part of the truth may be the best “con of all”. EX. He returns from work and reports how tired he is. He complains of fatigue, and says he had a lot of sleep to catch up on. What he did not disclose was that part of the fatigue resulted from a daily pattern of unhealthy behaviors. When this information comes to light, he insisted he had been truthful in that he had stated how tired he was. For this he wants credit. When caught lying, he takes the offensive, asking, “wouldn’t you lie under these circumstances?” He insists that anyone who says he would not, is lying.
Sometimes he will open up and reveal something, then later deny it, claiming it was just a con. He prefers this to facing the consequences of whatever he revealed. By saying he was conning, he conveys the impression that he’s now telling the truth, which of course, he is not. “Distortion” is a form of lying in which this person twists the facts to his advantage. He distorts his report of what occurred by shifting the emphasis, exaggerating, and omitting part of what happened.



While everyone uses phrases such as “you might say”, “in a way”, “I guess”, “to a degree”, and others when they are unsure of something, this person uses these phrases to skirt issues in an effort to conceal wrongdoing. When talking, if both parties are vague they get further and further from the facts, which is their objective. Even as a child, this person is adept at avoiding giving a direct answer, he may use superficial presentations loaded with generalizations and empty phrases. 


This person attempts to confuse, believing this gives him the upper hand. He offers inconsistent version, shades, qualifies, distorts, and shifts emphasis with each telling of an event. If questioned about a discrepancy, he uses, “you musth ave misunderstood”, or “you must have been confused” to shift the burden to the other party. Or he accuses the other party of being the one who distorted or misinterpreted. Sometimes he makes a point seriously, but when challenged later, says he was only joking. Then he accuses the other party of “lacking a sense of humor”. He may also attempt to confuse by talking too rapidly or too slowly, listlessly deviating from the point. H may mumble, slur words, or use a dialect he knows others have difficulty understanding. One well-practiced tactic is to begin to tell something, then stop in the middle and announce he was lying and is now going to tell the truth. He thinks this acknowledgement of lying will lead others to give him credit for honesty and believe everything he says later. 


When called to account for a violation, rather than denying it totally, this person minimizes it. This may not be part of the lying pattern-because this person thinks as he does, he tends to see an offense as less serious than others do. HE minimizes it even to himself. However, when confronted, the attempt to minimize is clearly to save his own skin. He may say he “borrowed” something he actually stole. He tries to conceal the harm he is doing by deliberate understatement. Another tactic is to make light of some of his unhealthy ideas and say that, because he did not act on them, they were unimportant. 


This person is a master of diversion. A favorite form is to bring up irrelevant material and interest others in any subject than than his own unhealthy acts. This is particularly useful to him in settings in which verbal participation is encouraged and discussion about almost anything is seen as a sign of cooperation. If pressured to “stick to the point”, he uses more subtle forms of diversion. HE dwells on one point and spends too much time on it, or labels something as a “problem” so he can describe it at length, distracting others from more important issues. Another diversion is to recount his qualities and good deeds. In some programs the staff tries to increase one’s “Self-esteem” by emphasizing the good in him. If this is done, it contributes to unhealthy building up this persons’s opinion of himself, which gives him further license to continue his old patterns. Bringing up racism is another way of diverting. Clearly, there has been racial bigotry and discrimination by various races, but racism is irrelevant to the issue at hand. This person knows this is a sensitive issue and that is why he raises it. He takes the offensive with charges of racism when he has failed to gain agreement on some point. 


This is saying yes without really meaning it. This person may use this to cut short a discussion and “gain points”. By assenting, he can mislead others into believing progress has been made, but he does not apply the concepts to himself or practice them in daily living. Agreeing to a point band being guided by it in daily living are not the same. the only way to tell genuine from tactical agreement is to observe this person time. If the assent is a deliberate tactic to gain points, time will tell and this will be evident. 



The obvious purpose of silence is to gain secrecy. This person may attempt to control a meeting by refusing to talk. They don’t want others intruding into their psyche. Silence is often a form of his anger when others attempt to reach him. Other than purse silence, he may use “I don’t know”, “no comment”, “I forgot”, “Nothing happened”, sighing, shrugging, etc... 


This person ignores everything unrelated to his objective. With a closed mind, he hears only what agrees to his thinking. The overriding tendency is to assume others think as he does.


If this person is uninterested in what is being said, he allows his physical presence and a few nods of the head to indicate he is receptive. Meanwhile, he turns his attention to more exciting (usually unhealthy) ideas. If caught off guard by a question he attempts to shift the burden to the other person - “You didn’t make that clear”. 


When he begins to participate in a program for change, this person often goes through a “honeymoon” period. As the newness wears off, competing desires arise and he realizes that changes require work and longterm effort and that he cannot magically change just by saying he wants to. At this point, he may arrive late, leave early, or not show up at all, usually offering phony excuses. He skips a session if something more exciting comes along. Such behavior indicates he wants to continue his dysfunctional lifestyle and doesn’t want outside interference. 


Confession is often interpreted as indicting an intention to be responsible. Nothing could be further from the truth. This person may think that reporting his violations makes them acceptable. He is appalled if someone expects him to face the consequences of a “confessed” violation, claiming he should be immune from the penalties for the harm he has caused because he has been “honest”. Often the confession is only a small part of the truth. He may “confess” small infractions to help conceal major infractions. 


When this person says, “he understands me”, he means, “he agrees with me”. When confronted by his failure to perform responsibly, he often claims that there was a “misunderstanding” between him and the confronted. Even when two parties clearly set a time, date, and place for a meeting, if he fails to show up, he may claim there was a “misunderstanding”. 


On hearing that specific requirements are not to his liking, this person takes what is said, exaggerates/distorts it so it is impossible to achieve, and uses this as an excuse not to conform. EX. Someone may point out that because this person lacks an education and job skills, he may have to take a job at which he starts at the bottom. This person then accuses the person of “asking him to be a flunky the rest of his life”. They respond to the strict requirements for becoming responsible by calling others “puritan”, “robot”, etc. This reflects the person’s unhealthy view of what responsibility entails, but it’s also a calculated tactic to generalize a program’s philosophy to absurdity, thereby discrediting it and offering an excuse to avoid change. 


There are times when this person has little intention of doing what is required and deliberately puts things off indefinitely, which means an ultimate refusal. “I’m not ready yet”, “I can’t do it overnight”, “I have to do things one at a time”, and others are used to “buy time” when he is actually refusing. He then blames the other person for expecting too much instead of confronting his own lack of effort. Behind this is his doubt that he truly desires a different kind of life. 


When this person is bored, restless, and seeking excitement, he says he’s ready to leave and stand on his own feet. Wanting to be a success without sustained effort, he will claim he has “changed” because he has corrected a behavior on time, in one situation, after al lifetime of repeatedly violating. 



Although this person is participating in a program to learn, he tries to assume the role of teacher and convert others to his point of view. He may become combative and attacks in a variety of ways. He may be hypercritical, sarcastic, abusive, etc.. Anger is the habitual way in which this person attempts to achieve control. There is nothing to be gained from engaging in discussion with an angry, abusive person, so he uses this as a way to avoid contact. In programs in which participants are encouraged to “vent” and “open up with their feelings”, this person will use this as an opportunity to abusively attack others and verbally assault, claiming that this is a form of “dealing with his anger problem”. In fact it is simply generating his anger problem and allowing him to continue irresponsibility and disrespect for the rights of others, as well as attempting to gain power and control. 

Adapted from “Criminal Personalities” - by Samenow and Yochelson

“We have come to place belief and emphasis on behaviors rather than words.” - Dr. Weiss

“I can’t hear what you say because what you do speaks louder than what you say.” - Former Spouse of an addict 

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