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Caring Confrontation

Linnda Durre'

Posted on May 10, 2022 15:27

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Telling the truth to someone who is in denial takes skill, diplomacy, honesty, and bluntness.

In my book, Surviving the Toxic Workplace: Protect Yourself Against Co-Workers, Bosses and Work Environments That Poison Your Day (McGraw Hill), I wrote about “calling a process shot” -- telling the truth about the games people are playing. This is crucial to communicate with bullies, manipulators, con artists and people in denial.

Example: I worked at a residential treatment center for adolescent boys who were raised in chaotic homes by alcoholic/drug-addicted parents. The boys experienced poverty, starvation, and physical, mental, emotional and/or sexual abuse.

Once, the six boys came to me in a group. One said, “Hey, Linnda, can you give us money to buy ice cream?”  I replied, “Do you think I’m that stupid that I would give you money to go score pills, weed or coke from the neighborhood dope dealer? No, I won’t because I want you to be drug and alcohol free. If you want ice cream, we’ll go to Baskin-Robbins. But I’m not giving you money to buy drugs or booze that will hurt you or kill you! I care about you and I will protect you.”

That statement alerted them I was on to their tricks and had to save them from themselves. You have to be direct, set limits and boundaries, and tell them you care about them. They will respect you and be grateful for your honesty and protection.  

Second example: a woman asked for my help with her alcoholic husband. She was his third wife. He was very wealthy and she said he was a chronic alcoholic. I agreed to see him.

He came loaded with excuses, denial, and refusals that he was an alcoholic.  All of the active listening I did was not making a difference. His lack of responsibility, refusal to accept reality, and his deflection of his alcoholism was evident. It was time to bring in the big guns.

I said, “Check yourself into rehab for 90 days, and then attend AA meetings. Get a same-gender sponsor and work all 12 Steps of the 12 Step Program.  Your three wives have left you and your children hate you and want nothing to do with you because of your drinking. Your well-paid attorney has gotten you off on three DUIs. And you think you’re not an alcoholic?!”

He got very defensive, cursing, finally yelling, “I could buy and sell you!”

I replied, “Sir, I’m not for sale, and you’re still an alcoholic who needs rehab and AA.”

He stormed out of my office.

Four months later, he was in my waiting room. He brought roses, gifts, and a card and said, “You saved my life by confronting me. I was in denial.  It was a wake-up call. I checked myself into rehab for three months. I joined AA, have a sponsor and I’m working the 12 Steps. I’ve been sober for four months and I owe it all to you.”  That is one way to save a life – by caring confrontation.

 

Linnda Durre'

Posted on May 10, 2022 15:27

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