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DISCUSSION

Faultfinders like to throw their weight around, if they have any weight to throw. Carol's criticism of Henry at his classroom door is a classic example and the work of a master player. Mrs. Markowski, in one short burst, puts Henry in the position of student with her as teacher. She threatens to have his contract non renewed (we used to call this getting fired). Additionally, she gives him what the students would call an after-school detention. Finally, she lets him know she can and will tear his lesson plans into little bits. Given the opportunity, faultfinders like to get people into trouble - a natural for the school principal. It also is an effective way to put the president of the union in his place while she is at it.

"There is probably no hope for any of them." This tidbit from Carol's thoughts is a telling sign of her qualifications as a faultfinder. She is always ready and willing to be critical of anything and anyone. The successful faultfinder never forgets that the world is full of things and people to analyze and criticize.

Budding faultfinders have made a giant step once they simply assume people are going to screw up sooner or later. It also helps if the eager player believes others are doing it just to give him a bad time.

Doris gives you a good example of the technique. In the middle of saying something else, she says, "It's just a few who are making us all look bad . . . ." The point is that any time Doris looks bad, someone did it to her. This is what advanced faultfinders call a position of perfection. No matter what they do or do not do, they do it well. Any problems are someone else's fault.

The teachers provide many examples of The Frustration Factor. Carol Markowski just shakes her head and thinks, "It's understandable why education is going downhill when you have to deal with people like that."

"People like that" is a key to her success as a player. It is obvious that she puts most people into the category and changes the definition of like that as she goes along. She does this even if sometimes the people are only twelve years old. Intolerance and an unwillingness to accept people as is make it much easier to be critical.

For those who elevate faultfinding to an Olympic-class sport, it is necessary to be stingy with praise. Skilled players keep the focus on problems, negatives, and things going wrong. This includes anything from the important to the trivial, from the essential to the irrelevant.

Henry shows you how to use the play with style. He does not even need to have an opening. "I don't think six and nine is anything to brag about." Henry has as much potential as Carol Markowski, given more experience and practice. He comes straight out of left field.

A close look clarifies the technique. Pick something, anything the person may value that is not going well, e.g., Greg's basketball team. Pounce on that since it will hurt, and then stress how it is as bad or worse than the problems the faultfinder is having. "You are worse than I am." That is Henry's point. The underlying game is to play one up even if the player has to admit some shortcomings.

Ilene, the special education teacher, demonstrates a related technique with style. Even her efforts to compliment have a backhanded quality. They are the type of compliment that makes the recipient say, "Thanks, I think."

She says, "With no more experience than Greg has, I think he is doing all right. That goes for Henry too. He's a teacher and can't be expected to know anything about running a union."

Two phrases tell the tale: With no more experience than Greg has and he's a teacher and can't be expected to know anything. Her point is that were Greg more experienced or Henry not just a teacher they would function more competently. It would not be surprising to see her walk over and pat each of them on the head and say, "It's all right. I know you're trying."

Doris is not to be outdone as a first class faultfinder. "It's time to put the responsibility directly on the people who are causing the problems. We all know who they are too." It is certain enough to take to the bank that who they are excludes Doris and probably everyone else in the room, unless someone leaves. If someone walks out, they can count on joining Doris's who they are group.

Faultfinders seldom pursue their game on a face-to-face basis. Behind-the-back makes it much easier to avoid anyone's directly contesting or rebutting what they have to say.

Henry wraps the faultfinding demonstration up in style. It is no wonder he qualifies as a faultfinder complete with professional credentials. Listen to what he says. "I know people have bad days but that's no excuse. They have to do it right every time." Henry is the keeper of the standard, the last supporter of perfection. From that perspective, it is easy, nay unavoidable for Henry to be anything other than faultfinding. He is just doing what comes naturally for saints like him and Carol Markowski.

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