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DISCUSSION

Maryanne plays bummed out to perfection. Her main strategy is to get Martin - her protector - to feel sorry for her.

"I am worn out from trying"

"It is exhausting, trying everything there is to try and people are still not satisfied"

"I have given this firm all I have"

"I am just one person"

"Even you think it is all me, now"

"I guess someone needs to be the scapegoat"

Let Martin get tough with Maryanne and then give him a guilt check. On a scale from one to ten, he will register at least eight or nine. Maryanne is counting on it.

As an aside, you occasionally see an interesting variation on the theme. The bummed out player makes an alliance with several other players. As a bummed out diad or triad or whatever, the crew supports each other's bummed out patterns. People who play together survive together. They usually describe their shared condition as being burned-out or perhaps demoralized.

Maryanne takes full advantage of Martin's compassion. It enables her to use several more bummed out techniques most creatively.

"I will try to straighten it out but do not have much hope," is integrated smoothly into her play. Maryanne does not expect to succeed and goes on to make it clear that it is not her problem anyway.

"I don't know what you are going to do about the problem you have."

She sets up an airtight and criticism-proof place to hide. She tells Martin that she cannot fix the problem and makes sure he understands that it is his problem and not hers. She gets points if things get better and loses nothing if they stay the same or get worse. At this rate, she is good for at least another seventeen years.

The next technique Maryanne uses is central to playing bummed out. It is hard to spot, though. No matter what happens, the player must not defend or stick up for himself.

Martin says, " . . . but to tell you the truth, I am beginning to get some heat about you, your performance." Notice that Maryanne never responds to this or to any other implication that she might be inadequate or at fault.

"I am just one person and can't do it all. It must all be my fault." Anyone who hears any acceptance of responsibility or culpability in this is a prime candidate to become some player's protector. Even a beginning counter player can hear the real messages.

Get off my back

Quit kicking me when I am giving it everything I have

I can take it from them so long as you are here to protect me

Being negative about almost everything is essential. Being nervous and up-tight is a good touch too, a sign of an experienced bummed out player. Look at Maryanne's behavior and posturing as she waits for Martin to start the meeting. Along with being tense, she reminds herself to be negative: a pessimist, as she calls it.

Maryanne wants no part of anything positive. Martin says, "Generally, things are going smoothly." Not only does she fail to respond to this, Maryanne reminds Martin from time-to-time that it is a negative environment.

"Things are a mess around here"

"It is like riding a roller coaster"

"It is more than anyone can handle"

Maryanne also remembers to remind Martin about her nervous condition. "I am a nervous wreck from trying to straighten out everything that goes wrong." For good measure, she brings it up again. "It's no wonder I get so nervous and upset."

Maryanne does not devalue herself, although this does work well for bummed out players in a pinch. She plays the next best card, though. She devalues everyone and everything else.

"The things and people who are important to me are not at this office."

The things and people who are important to her are somewhere else. Yes, that is exactly what she says. Martin is not important to her. Her job is not important to her. The people she works with are not important to her. Neither the law firm nor its clients are important to her.

Listen well Martin Koch. Maryanne is telling you something important. It may just have something to do with why there are problems in her area.

What do you think, Martin? You do not think, do you? You go with your feelings instead of going with what Maryanne is telling you. Keep it up. Maryanne is counting on it.

Successful bummed out players are experts at spotting and using people like Martin; and These players are in no danger of extinction. There is usually a Martin for each Maryanne.

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Please send comments or questions to Gary A. Crow, Ph.D. GAC@GaryCrow.net