Rainbow Fairy

Lesson 3 - Satir Modes

These 5 communication modes were first described by Virginia Satir in her book "Peoplemaking".

Blamer: This mode comes out of a need to feel powerful. Blamers act like they are in charge, and whatever's wrong must be somebody else's fault. Blamer-mode communication often sounds angry.
"Why are you ALWAYS DOING things like THAT?" or "Only an IDIOT would leave the door open on a hot day like today."

Placater: This comes out of a wish to avoid conflict, and a fear that everyone will abandon the speaker. Placaters insist that things are all their own fault, and that they'll go along with whatever the other person says. Placater-mode sounds frightened and desperate.
"Oh, you know I don't mind. WhatEVER you decide is okay with me" or "WHY do these things always happen to ME?"

Computer: This comes out of a fear of showing one's real feelings. Computers try to avoid saying "I", and sound very formal.
"That is a perfectly normal reaction to this crisis" or "One must remember always to close containers after they have been opened."

Distracter: This is a confused blend of other modes. Distracters are panicked, and jump between modes.
"Don't you talk to ME like that, young lady! I'm sure any rational person would be calm right now. Please, just settle down; I'll be quiet if you will, okay?"

Leveler: This is just what it sounds like-someone who's telling the straight truth about their thoughts and feelings. However, there are phony levelers, who've learned to act like they're being truthful and telling just their plain feelings; these are the hardest to spot, and the most dangerous. (Tony's statement in the sample story is an example of phony leveling.)
"I hate it when you tap your pencil like that."

So if five students, one of each Satir mode, were stuck in detention together, this is what they might say:

Blamer: You people are LAME. I bet you're going to ruin my whole day.
Placater: I always screw things up; that's why I'm here. Why do things ALWAYS go so badly for me?
Computer: Perhaps if we study vigorously, we'll all be permitted to leave early.
Distracter: They can't DO this to me! This is all Mary's fault! My father will make sure that someone gets fired for this. It's a violation of our civil rights. Oh, WHY is this happening TODAY?
Leveler: I don't like being here. I wish I were somewhere else.

It's important to remember that these are styles, not people. Nobody is "a Blamer," although there are some people who spend a lot of time in Blamer mode. (Just like nobody is "a Shouter" or "a Whisperer," even if they mostly talk only that way.)

The first rule of communication (and an important rule of wizardry!) is: Whatever you feed will grow. Responding in Blamer mode to a Blamer comment will wind up with a raging argument, and possibly a fistfight; Placating a Placater leads to a pity-party; two Computers having a conversation goes nowhere, with big words and long sentences; and a Distracter conversation sounds like confusion in a blender.

So unless you want a conversation to stay in whatever mode it's in, change modes. If you're not sure what to do, go into computer mode, and stay there until you have a good reason to switch. The worst that's likely to happen is that the conversation (or argument) stalls, and maybe you get a reputation for being "geeky" or "spock-like."

EMAIL INSTRUCTOR: Look back at your 3 examples of verbal violence from Lesson 1 and your example from Lesson 2. What Satir mode were they in? If they were all in Blamer mode, can you find some examples in another mode?

Go to Lesson 4

Back to Lesson 2