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IN BRIEF

Bummed Out players do not expect to succeed

When bummed out is the game, the player neither values nor expects job success. Should it come, it is only serendipity. His personal priority is being protected and being forgiven - in advance - if things go badly. It is this guarantee of immunity that the player works for.

Skilled bummed out players never make commitments by saying things like;

"I'll take care of it"

"Consider it done"

"You can count on me"

Instead, they say;

"I'll try"

"I'll give it my best shot"

"I'll make a run at it"

"Let's hold our breath and hope for the best"

Bummed Out players do not stick up for themselves

This may be the trickiest part of playing bummed out. There is a natural temptation for the player to lash back, defend himself, and react to attacks, especially on his ability, credibility, or integrity.

Say to the player, "You are not trying. You are not giving me your best. You are in over your head. I can't count on you." No matter how tempted the player is to defend himself or aggressively react, these impulses are absorbed and not responded to in any way. He hangs his head, tucks tail and takes it. The trick is for the player never to forget that he is bummed out.

If his assailant does not back off, the bummed out player needs to find his protector to deal with the attacker. If worse comes to worse and he cannot get himself rescued, he passively sits there and takes it.

Bummed Out players are negative about everything

Being bummed out and being negative are two sides of the same coin. As with other versions of The Frustration Factor, negativism is a frequent feature. For the bummed out set, though, being negative is the main affect. Remember, the affect is all there is to being bummed out. The key is that the affect is not always present for the player. That is what separates being bummed out from being depressed.

Depression is a psychological disorder. It underlies difficulties like eating and sleeping problems, a generally flat or unexpressive mood, and unpredictability in attitude or behavior. The main feature is often a change in the person's normal pattern of behavior and adjustment. Like Maryanne in the illustration, being bummed out is a way of life at work. What would be learned if anyone bothered to check is that there are times away from work when she is not that way at all. In fact, she is probably not bummed out at work all the time. It mostly comes up when things get tough, there are problems, or she is about to become the focus of criticism. The truly skilled player can turn being bummed out on and off at will, timing it to match the situation. The trick of the expert player is never to get too far away from the bummed out affect. When it is show time, the performance cannot seem forced or faked.

Bummed Out players are up tight or nervous

With the bummed out player, being up-tight and nervous appears natural and never seems put on. The player usually points out the condition. "I am a nervous wreck." Also, his posture is either stiff or somewhat slouched. The impression is of someone who is hyperalert and on guard or someone who has surrendered to the inevitable. Small closed gestures are also a must. Hands folded on the lap add to the affect as does an occasional hand to the mouth. The notion is to give the impression of having been through the wringer.

The most effective tool of the bummed out player is the voice, though. Players learn to talk in a little or quiet voice. Swallowing while talking helps the affect, if the technique is not too obvious. It is also important to talk slowly, as if talking at all is a real burden. The aim is to give the impression of a whipped puppy. The player, however, needs to be sure not to overdo it.

Bummed out players do not deal well with the ups and downs of organizational life

In the illustration, Maryanne refers to the law firm as a "roller coaster." Amusement parks are a real turn on for many people; but for bummed out players, the environment is far from amusing. As a technique, "ups-and-downs phobia" is up there with the best.

The game works like this. When things are in a turmoil and not going smoothly, the player says, "Things are always a mess around here. Just about the time I get a handle on one piece, either it changes or something else goes to pot."

Alternatively, if things are stable and running like clockwork, the player says, "Nothing ever changes around here. No one wants to deal with the problems. It is either just sweep them under the rug or ignore them and hope they will go away."

There is also a little twist at the end if the player is exceptionally skilled. He says, "Sometimes I feel like I'm the only one around here who gives a tinker's damn about this place." Expert bummed out players know it is the little things that get the job done.

Bummed Out players do not value the people and activities in the organization

This is a necessary part of being bummed out. It is expressed in a variety of ways but usually needs to be verbalized to be effective.

I am beyond caring

I wish everyone would leave me alone and let me just do my job

I do what I am paid to do. The rest of that stuff is not my concern

When it comes to this place, I can take it or leave it and would just as soon leave it

It is important for the player to be careful, though. The lines have to be delivered in a way that seems to convey the opposite message. "I am beyond caring," needs to be delivered in a way that conveys, "I care so much and so deeply that caring is causing me pain." The notion is that whatever the problem is, it is breaking the player's heart.

Bummed Out players do not have much energy

This is also a must for the bummed out player. The need is to create the illusion of low energy while behaving the opposite. It is a martyr kind of thing. No matter how exhausted the player is, he needs to be the first at work and the last to leave. Working through breaks and over lunch helps the cause. The player needs to be sure to take breaks and lunch at irregular times. It will not do to get actually exhausted. Being a bummed out player requires being rested and in top form, for he is sacrificing all for the organization.

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