A part of my training, has been to do assessment, profiling, and scenario predictability. This comes in handy more often than not- especially when playing at sociopolitical office and community games. Check out some of the games people play below. Maybe you’re guilty of them, or maybe you’ve been victimized with one…
To understand group dynamics games within the office it is helpful to understand the equation process in which they play out.
Behaviour + Lure = Response
Response = Switch in character/ego + Payoff
The first game brought to light is a 3 player game called “Courtroom” in which each player assumes one of the following roles:
This game is typical in non-profit settings as communicative problem solving is often used in non-profits. It begins with the plaintiff: “Let me tell you what happened…” With a response from the defendant, “Here’s the real truth… And before that they were…” At which the plaintiff will conclude with, “I’m glad you got to hear both sides of the story…” The judge will chime, “I must consider…” If the judge is a therapist or social worker it would be typical for them, should there be an audience, to also ask, “Would anyone like to add anything?…” In a scenario where no hidden agenda is at play the scenario will end with the judge, “Plaintiff, you have done… Here are your options to resolve…” At which point the plaintiff would agree, “Yes I take responsibility…” and resolution would conclude. When there is a hidden agenda and game playing is evident the plaintiff will respond to judge’s first remarks with a dramatic or otherwise complicated reaction. The theme of the game is rivalry in hopes of accomplishing reassurance and ego stroking.
2. Fresh Meat is a typical game played with those who major in psychology, social work, or lifespan and development. It is a simple game constructed of two components: undermining and withholding information (lying). Fresh Meat is often played in the presence of colleagues and coworkers. This is a two-three player game. The two player game is the Fresh Meat and the colleague. The three player game is usually the Fresh Meat, a colleague and a novice. The game is typically started when the Fresh Meat overhears of a story (either positive or negative) or dilemma or if a colleague shares with them a story or dilemma. At this point the Fresh Meat jumps into the middle of the conversation and begins to undermine the decisions of the worker verbally expressing a wealth of knowledge, history and personal experience. They often talk about education they have received and certificates and training they have partaken in as a way to undermine and dismiss your decisions and outcome of the task/scenario/story/dilemma. However, the Fresh Meat will often withhold the final step of what they brag about, shrugging it off as if, “Of course, you know?” making the other worker feel inferior with previous statements so they naturally agree as if they understand because they do not want to be continually shamed.
Worker: “… and my client finished NA successfully and I am proud to report they are active in the housing program and have demonstrated good behaviour so they no longer require supervised visits…”
Fresh Meat: “That’s great! … But you know, because of the demographic, they will most likely relapse.” (This being said as if the worker is not educated on the demographic stats of their clients and behavioural outcomes)
Worker: “I understand that, but I am happy with their progress. We’ve worked hard getting to this point.”
Fresh Meat: “Mhm. It’s nice to see clients make progress. I remember when….. and when I got my BSW…. And then my certification in…. But you know all that. The sad part is the negative reaction of your client which will probably show itself in… We learned that in… I know because… But your training is in …. The steps really should have been done differently because… But you know that… Here are other facts I know… But you know where I’m going with this right? Of course you do.”
This completely shuts down the other worker and dismisses their education, knowledge and position in both the successes of their client and in the organization. The motivation behind this is it is newly learned information for the Fresh Meat. Even if the information is 10years old, because the Fresh Meat has not updated their training, they still believe it is cutting edge and they know better. The desired effect: One-up-manship.
3. Fresh Meat is usually accompanied by I’m Only Trying to Help You. IOTHY (I’m Only Trying to Help You) is usually initiated by an employer or supervisor. This is a two player game. It can also be played by a parallel department who really has nothing to do with the department handling the dilemma. Typically the game starts off with the worker having a dilemma. Then the Fresh Meat gives advice, characteristically ego stroking themselves for their good advice, however they are secretly aware that their advice is not grade A advice. They proceed to watch their advice fall through with the worker and then blame the worker with the expression, “I’m Only Trying to Help You.” This leaves the Fresh Meat feeling superior while watching the worker take a pitfall. Goal: ego, rivalry, Parent/Child complex.
4. Let’s You and I Play Office is a multiplayer game with a potentially shifting role between two players. The two players are usually colleagues with the same motives. If two players from different games of LYIPO meet, they are likely to become enablers in each others game as they recognize the immediate goal and outcome. The game is initiated with verbal comments and public displays of distress, including wiping the upper brow, narrowing eyes to appear serious and concerned, and keeping a messy work place that never shifts from one project to another. Goal of the game: encourage as much emotional and political drama as possible while minimizing the actual work of the individual to make them look busy/hard working. This game is played out by people who seemingly have a finger in every pie, take documents and files home with them, do incredulous amounts of overtime or appear to stay late regularly. The key player to LYIPO uses a very public display of, “See how much I love my job, see what a hard worker I am?” in order to dramatize their workload so they can assign tasks to other workers, but will feign modesty when questioned about it. These individuals usually have poor workplace boundaries and exaggerate their roles and responsibilities within an agency. Often these individuals have a strong charisma, charm or vulnerability that draws you in. Typically the player of LYIPO is a “Dandy”, “Rake”, “Charmer”, or “Star”. They are known to take leaves, extended holidays, many sick days, accumulate a lot of lieu time, and have lavish social lives or an annual event such as a marriage, funeral, cruise, or a move.
Stay tuned for more updates on games people play…