“In teaching people to cope with manipulative criticism from other people, I instruct them not to deny any criticism (that’s simply responding in kind), not to get defensive, and not to counterattack with criticism of their own…I suggested that as a rule of thumb, they might learn faster by verbally replying to manipulative criticism as if they were a ‘fog bank.’ I have used other labels…to describe this assertive skill when it is used in everyday situations to cope with manipulative logic, argument, guilt- and anxiety-inducing statements. (1) We can agree with any truth in statements people use to criticize us (AGREEING WITH THE TRUTH) (2) We can agree with any possible truth in statements people use to criticize us (AGREEING WITH THE ODDS) (3) We can agree with the general truth in logical statements that people use to manipulate us (AGREEING IN PRINCIPLE).
“Critic: I see you are dressed in your usual sloppy manner.Learner: That’s right. I am dressed in my usual way.Critic: Those pants! They look like you stole them off the Goodwill rack without pressing them.Learner: They are a bit wrinkled, aren’t they.Critic: Wrinkled is the understatement of the week. They are positively dreadful.Learner: You’re probably right. They do look a bit worse for wear.
“As you can see in this training dialog, the practice of FOGGING does several things. First it forces the learner to listen to exactly what the critic says…It teaches the novice to be a good listener, to listen to what is actually being said–not to read minds–but the critic instead of interpreting what is said to conform to the novice’s own self-doubts and insecurities, what we all secretly feel or think. In addition, it forces the learner to think in terms of probabilities–what he would be willing to bet money on, not in absolutes, in yes or no, blacks or whites, 100 per cent or zero.”
Do you have a habit of being defensive? Do you know someone in your life who would be floored by your fogging?