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Berkshire | david.davies@sandler.com

Are you communicating....or trying to get the other person to submit?


In Transforming Leaders: The Sandler Way there are eight common baits that people use to get other people into Communication Dysfunction.


This is what happens in dysfunctional exchanges between people.


They have one commonality.  One person is using his or her strengths against the other person in order to bring that person to submission - so that they will acquiesce or come around to a certain way of thinking or acting.


#1. Overwhelming.

If I can think faster than you do, then I'm going to out-think you.  If I can talk faster than you, then I'm going to out-talk you.  If I can emote quicker than you, more than you do, then I'm going to out-emote you.  I'm going to out logic you.  I'm going to overwhelm you with the sheer force of my personality until I get you to give me what I want.

And it's not fair!


#2. Unplugging.

Okay, so I can't dominate you.  You know what I'm going to do? I'm going to pull everything in and just unplug from you.  

This is common in the business meeting where a person pushes their chair away from the table, crosses their arms, folds their legs, and literally turns perpendicular to the rest of the table.

That person has unplugged.

That's not fair either.


#3. Sarcasm.

You've seen this one in action, haven't you?  

You share an idea, and someone says" "Oh, well, you could do that....if you wanted to ruin the whole company."

"What do you mean by that?" you ask.

"Oh, I was only joking.:

Sarcasm is particularly insidious because it has a back door.  You can't be called out on it, because you can always go out the back door of "I was only kidding."  Sarcasm gets the conversation nowhere.  It does nothing to move a conversation forward.  

"What did you mean by that?" is about the only response that you can offer to someone's sarcasm - bringing that person to where they actually say what they mean, rather than disguising it in sarcasm.


#4. Non-verbal Cues

People don't need words to speak.  They speak volumes with a rolling of the eyes or with a groan or in dozens of other ways.  

The only way to combat this dysfunction is to say something like.

"Help me out: What did you mean just now? I'm asking because left to my own devices I'm going to assume that I knew what you meant.  To be honest I often find myself 'lost in the dark' then.  I would rather you told me what you meant when you did that."

Don't go into too much details about what you mean by "did that."  Don't say, "Why did you just roll your eyes at me?".

Focus on what the person was trying to communicate; not how.


#5. Subject Changing

This is a classic.  This one is best combatted before starting a conversation.  Have the subject of the conversation very clearly defined.  That way, if any distractions get introduced, you can agree to 'park' that for another conversation, another time.


#6. Blaming and Guilt

This dysfunctional cycle can cause huge amounts of time to be wasted in a conversation without resolution.  As time-wasting goes, this is probably one of the most reliable ways to 'burn oxygen'.

The blame game consists of blaming another person for something that no-one wants to be seen to take responsibility for.

The goal of this game is to achieve the following:

1) If something has gone wrong (or is not the way it should be), then someone other than myself must be identified and blamed for causing the situation.

2) I must not accept any degree of responsibility for the situation or admit to myself that I am in anyway responsible for the situation.

3) I must avoid any negative treatment that could be an outcome of taking the blame for the situation.

4) Someone other than myself will deal with the ramifications of the situation.


#7. Name Calling

This is tricky one.

We often don't realise we're doing it.

Frequently, an organisation will share with me when talking about their culture, "We don't allow any name calling around here."

I will always say "Oh, I bet you do.  You've just developed a sophisticated approach to how people go about calling names."

Suppose the CEO says something like, "Of course, the intelligent opinion to have is...."

What does that mean?

It means that anyone else who doesn't have that opinion is not intelligent! Sophisticated name-calling, if ever I heard it.

You can call someone a name by taking a certain tone of voice.

"Don't you understand that the best way to do this is to...."

"Only an idiot would...."

"Don't you know...."

"How hard can it be...."

The person you're talking to can fill in the blank without any difficulty. The missing word is "stupid".

You've just name-called.


#7. Attacking the other's identity.

This where we go beyond the blame and guilt and move into the Premier League: shaming.

There is a big difference between guilt and shame.

Guilt is saying "You made a mistake."

Shame is saying "You are a mistake."

They're both dysfunctional, shame is just get a more powerful variety.

With Shame, we're attacking directly the other person's identity.  In essence we're saying they are not worthy.  That is a low-blow!


Throughout our communications, it is essential to remember that we teach people how to treat us.  If we find ourselves complaining about how we are being treated, we should take a moment to consider if we taught others to treat us that way.  How are we going to change that?

We are going to have to set up personal boundaries that prevent these dysfunctions from occurring, and boundaries that prevent people from using these dysfunctions against us.

A strong Leader knows to stay away from these Eight Communication Dysfunctions....and know who to call out their people....ideally in private.....when they start using them.


Personal Power, Conviction, Charisma, People Skills, Courage, Ethics, Expertise. These are the Seven essential qualities of a Leader.

They are supportive of each other. No truly great Leader is missing any of these qualities.

Each quality operates in a fully integrated manner with the other six.

If you are an ambitious Business Owner, Director or Manager who is committed to transforming your Leadership style, then join us on Wednesday 26th July 2017 to learn more: 

Sandler Executive Leadership Briefing

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