Crucial Skills®

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What if participants don’t like the term “violence” being used in the training?

Candace BertottiCandace Bertotti is a Master Trainer.

Q There have been occasions when participants have reacted strongly to the use of the term “violence” in the training as they perceive that term as having the meaning of physical force or intense emotional abuse. How would you address this when it comes up?

A I address this one right in the beginning—in the debriefing of the “How Did You Get Your Way?” quick-start activity. I say that one of the claims that the training makes is that there is a continuum of communication. On one end is what we call “silence”—where you’re not speaking up and saying what you need to be effective. On the other end is something we call “violence”—and I quickly make this disclaimer: I don’t personally like this word. But what helped me, was to realize that we don’t mean physical violence here. What we mean is verbal aggression—this is the opposite end of the continuum from silence. And it rhymes with silence—silence and violence, so it makes a nice package for us to remember. If I need to I might even say “violence in this context doesn’t mean throwing a punch—it just means the extreme opposite of silence.”

Then after I show the first example of a “violence” video (Brittany and Rick or Jackie and Rick—the third video in the series), I ask them when the video is over, “If you could put a name to Brittany’s/Jackie’s strategy, what would you call it?”—People answer with things like “aggression,” “overly assertive,” “lose-your-job-fast”—and then I say “we call this “violence.” If you’d like to call it something else, go right ahead, but for this training, this is an example of what I’ll be referring to as violence.” I find that if you admit the word is extreme (and it is—it’s the opposite end of the continuum) and allow participants to call it something else if they want—that negates potential push-backs.

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2 thoughts on “What if participants don’t like the term “violence” being used in the training?”

  1. jack Frangipane

    Candace remember me from Boston? I like your explanation and honesty above on violence term being verbal opposite. Also what have you or other facilitators done to help people practice the see/hear to act continuum….some experiential exercise vs. their conversations (to get them out of content of their conversations – as excercises now cover the science of it but not the art of doing it. make sense waht i am asking for?

  2. Candace Bertotti

    HI Jack — great to hear from you! For the “path to action” (or as you wrote, the see/hear continuum) — I find that good crisp stories can really help highlight the concept. I also now ask the class– “how do you know you’re telling yourself a story?” The answer is “anytime you feel something.” I find that really helps to drive home the point that we tell stories all_the_time. It’s not that we’re supposed to stop telling them — but rather how can we drive our awareness of them and realize we can change the feeling by changing the story. For ex. , if someone walked in your office right now, delivering a care package from someone you love– you first tell yourself a story. That story is what generates the feeling — not the package. You could look at the package and think “wow, they really care about me” — and feel happy. Or look at the package and think ” Is that what they think will make up for what they did to me yesterday?! I don’t think so!” and you feel angry. Or you look at the package and think “There they go again, spending money we don’t have on something I don’t need” and you’re disappointed. The only think that changed in these scenarios is the story. The story then generated the feelings. I also find that executing the “angry accountant” exercise well — connecting the exercise to emotions– can be very effective as well. Let me know if I misunderstood your question, but I think that may be what you were looking for…
    Glad to hear you’re diving into the material!

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