Obstruction Tactics

When working with groups of people it sometimes seems like the group is complete chaos.  Knowing more about Obstruction Tactics can help manage activities in a more orderly way.  Becoming familiar with these tactics can help a change agent maintain objectivity and remain on task.  Here is a summary of some problematic behaviors.

Definition: Interaction with others that support anti-social thinking and behavior.  These responses help people to maintain a perspective that they would be just fine if everyone would just leave them to their own devices.  Obstruction tactics build and maintain a sense of empowerment (or superiority).  They are based in a network of thinking errors that build and maintain a sense of “rightness”.  They are usually habitual and automatic responses to anything viewed as an intrusion into private matters. 

Attacks– To put others on the defensive

  • Points out the “fault” of others
  • Builds self up by putting others down
  • Makes a big scene about minor points
  • Degrading, quibbling, trying to embarrass and/or using anger as a weapon.
  • Accuses others of misunderstanding. 

Lies– To manipulate subject matters and focus

  • Pretending to know something to impress others
  • Lies by omission and/or distorting the truth and/or selective disclosure to benefit self
  • Deliberate lies or omission of truth
  • Minimizes
  • Agrees or says “yes/no” without meaning it
  • Claims to have changed by doing something right once

Diversion-To gain control and empowerment

  • Diverts attention away from self by introducing irrelevant material
  • Silence
  • Pays attention only when it is self-satisfying
  • Puts off obligation by saying, “I forgot.”
  • Being inattentive


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