are, in many ways, the most difficult of all the people who drive you up the
wall. They present unique counter play problems. They do not respond to
differences in people or conditions. They attempt to handle everything and
everyone in impersonal ways. Any relationship skills they may have are not
especially useful in a traditional sense. Their impatience and lack of clarity
about their roles compound the problems. They seldom take time to understand
anyone or anything and do not intuitively or automatically see where they fit
in or how their behavior affects others. They are confused but also confusing.
This is additionally problematic because the player does not put people or
their problems on his list of important concerns. Why? This is easy. The player
is a know-it-all and does not have to come down to the people level.
Seeing this helps
you understand the motivations of the Impersonal player. He is either incapable
of or unwilling to think about things in human terms. He also believes that
doing so is a less good or inferior way of interacting. With all this in mind
the key to counter play is to deal with the player in impersonal and objective
The first step is
always to be calm and as rational as possible. Give the impression of not
caring about things in any feeling or emotional way. Instead, convey a
dispassionate but committed approach to things. Be a machine responding to
put concerns in writing – or even better – present them directly but have a
written report to pass along. This trick is important. The written presentation
should not be more than one page long. For important or complex issues, longer
reports are acceptable so long as they are not more than two pages. If it cannot
be handled in two pages, think it through some more. The Impersonal player will
only attend to the bare facts. Keep it short and to the point.
include the specific problems, what is causing them, and exactly what is needed
to fix them. Philosophy, how people are affected, or what people think about it
are irrelevant. Focusing on them makes matters worse when dealing with the
Impersonal player. Keep things short, factual, and free from people kinds of
It is helpful to
think about the similarity between the Impersonal player and the I-player. The
I-player does not participate in reciprocal accommodation. His lack of
participation does not prevent others from trying to accommodate, though. For
the Impersonal player, the process of reciprocal accommodation is irrelevant.
Not only does the player not adjust or accommodate to others, they are unable
to adjust to or accommodate to him in interpersonal terms.
The key to a
relationship with an Impersonal player is to understand that there is not and
cannot be any personal relationship.
Perhaps an analogy
to a computer may help. When interacting with the machine, it is necessary to
consider the output as literal. From the Impersonal Player, everything seen and
heard must be taken literally and never in human or interpersonal terms.
Here is the most
important part for you. Everything said to the player also must be literal.
Only the empirical and objective are received and processed. The interaction is
based on data and well-defined actions.
perhaps most importantly, the only way to reason with or influence the
Impersonal Player is through input that has a direct impact on the player.
Telling him how his actions or directives affect people or someone’s operation
is of no value. The computer has no interest in how its output impacts on
people or situations.
Similarly, it has
no ability to accept input that does not exactly match its program or
expectations. Here is the key. The input has to be in a form that can be accepted.
It must either be consistent with the computer’s programming or such that it
causes an error message in the computer. All input must either help the
computer to run or threaten its operation.
Now counter play
is clear. Take time to watch how the Impersonal player outputs information,
instructions, and his expectations. Use the same medium and the same level of
detail and exactness he uses. For example, in the illustration, those who want
to deal with Dr. Vincent Arnold would do well to communicate in writing. The
key is not to raise concerns and issues of others. Instead, it is better to
say, “The staff morale problems are jeopardizing the ability of the Board
to conform to regulations. Please advise.”
is, “Data processing irregularities are evident and attributable to the
current equipment. The result is that external investigations may be
anticipated. Please advise.”
Just remember that
the input must match the output. Keeping it impersonal is the road to success
with the Impersonal player.