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Gibberish Tip #5: Word Salad.


I thought we might be done with my client whose x-husband keeps asking her to therapy (see Gibberish Tip #4), but she brought me this new email exchange and we decided this would be a wonderful example of “word salad.” (This client has been court ordered to communicate via Our Family Wizard which is a court-approved interaction for emails, scheduling, and expense reimbursement). Word Salad: What the heck is that??? It is a common manipulative tool abusers use to confuse victims.

The definition of “word salad” is: a confused or unintelligible mixture of seemingly random words and phrases. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Word_salad)

The key word in the definition is “SEEMINGLY.” I believe the abuser is fully aware he is intentionally confusing his target. The result of this type of abuse

  • leaves the victim questioning her sanity because the words seem to have no predictable continuity and

  • is heinous WHEN THE INTERACTION IS VERBAL and not written because it is nearly impossible to rationalize the logic of the conversation.

Word salad leaves the target completely drained and exhausted due to the immense amount of brain power used to communicate. To dissect this type of gibberish, word salad, we must RID ourselves of questioning our sanity by doing the following:

  1. Remember the original request.

  2. Identify the behaviors of the “uncommunicative” or pull out the veggies in the lettuce. (I have highlighted in BLUE the quotes, or veggies, I will use in this section)

  3. Decide if the “uncommunicative” answers the question or toss this with balsamic vinaigrette.


 

  1. Remember the original request. (I’m gonna underline it for you so you remember! The blue highlights are for #2.)


 

Dear Henry, Dylan needs braces and it was recommended he get them a year ago. His teeth barely close over his lips, and he struggles to brush them and keep them clean. Both the dentist and orthodontist have recommended braces. Would you agree to get him scheduled soon for them? As you are aware, the orthodontist offers a payment plan if you cannot afford to pay for them upfront. Dylan asks nearly every day because he is so uncomfortable. Thank you for your consideration. - Karen

Dear Karen, As repeatedly stated, I have limited funds. I will not be able to financially support braces for Dylan this year, especially in light of the high medical costs of counseling and Bonnie’s MRI. -Henry

Dear Henry, Will you support them in January? And I haven't received any reimbursement for any counseling fees in over a year. What fees you are referring to? - Karen

Dear Henry, It has been 7 days since I sent this. If you could please reply, that would be great. Thanks, - Karen

Dear Karen, I did reply. I'm not in a position to take on anything new as at this time. I will let you know if that changes - Henry

Dear Henry, I don't understand your response. You erroneously state that an MRI that hasn't occurred and therapy fees you haven't paid for are the reasons you will not support braces. ("I will not be able to financially support braces for Dylan this year, especially in light of the high medical costs of counseling and Bonnie's MRI.") Instead of asking your children to wait indefinitely for you to commit to their physical needs, would you please commit to January 2023? Thank you. - Karen

Dear Karen, My point was that if I can't afford those things, I can't afford something above and beyond that. My apologies if that was unclear. Your comment, "Instead of asking your children to wait indefinitely for you to commit to their physical needs," is passive-aggressive. It's also confusing since your parents never paid for your braces (I did - in your 40's) yet I doubt you would say they didn't meet your "physical needs." Again, I suggest counseling so we can communicate properly for the benefit of our children. - Henry

Dear Henry, I'm still confused. Are you saying you will not pay your portion of Bonnie's MRI when it gets scheduled? - Karen

Dear Karen, I did not - Henry

Dear Henry, So you won’t pay for therapy but you will pay for an MRI? - Karen

Dear Karen, I have already answered this. The constant barrage of emails clarifying what's already been stated is unnecessary, especially coming from an intelligent, clearly successful woman with a master's degree making six figures a year. My hope would be that you could stop being difficult and agree to pursue counseling so that our communication doesn't have to be this challenging. Glad Bonnie has an appointment with the specialist. This will be my last response to this question. - Henry

Dear Henry, If you could answer, "yes" you will support the fees from the MRI or "no", you won't, that would clear up my confusion. Thanks. - Karen

Her original question was: “Will you support Dylan getting braces?” Did she stay on track with that request? 2. Identify the behaviors of the “uncommunicative”. Now, let’s go through and name some of the “distractions” or veggies tossed into this salad.

  1. especially in light of the high medical costs of counseling and Bonnie’s MRI.” He knew she would latch on to this because it was a factually incorrect statement which leads her to DEFENDING her truth “I haven't received any reimbursement for any counseling fees” (Rabbit trail)

  2. “It has been 7 days since I sent this”. He chose not to respond to her (Stonewalling).

  3. I did reply”. What? Where? When? (Gaslighting).

  4. Your comment … was passive aggressive. She responded with facts that he did not want to respond to. It was actually his response that was passive-aggressive. (Projecting)

  5. since your parents never paid for your braces” (Obvious rabbit trail- distraction)

  6. I suggest counseling so we can communicate properlyANDagree to pursue counseling”. Yes, he did suggest therapy TWICE in this email. (Badgering)

  7. I did not”. He did not what? (Gaslighting)

  8. constant barrage of emails” Factually incorrect statement but portrays himself as the victim receiving soooo many painful emails. (Gross exaggeration meant to silence her.)

  9. especially coming from an intelligent, clearly successful woman with a master's degree making six figures a year.He attacks her credibility with sarcasm (Criticism)

  10. you could stop being difficult” Now she is the offender attacking him. (Blame-shifting)

  11. This will be my last response to this question.” He refused to commit so he took control and forced her into silence. (Stonewalling)


 

3. Decide if the “uncommunicative” answer the question or do we toss this with balsamic vinaigrette?

 

Well, I can’t find anywhere that the “uncommunicative” answers the question. We still have no idea if or when he will support braces. Unfortunately, he won this debate by diverting her to the MRI conversation. She got stuck there and never returned to the braces. Her only solutions are:

  1. Take Dylan to get braces and hope she can get a court to support this choice so she will be reimbursed.

  2. Let Dylan struggle for decades with teeth that are impossible to keep clean and suffer the embarrassment of his teeth.

(I’m going to hope Dad decides to man up or she can win in court.)

 

When I work with my clients, I remind them that this is the “uncommunicative’s” game. They play it well; do not underestimate them. However: we can learn their rules and we can outsmart them (ie: R.I.D.).

“Hope is a start. But Hope needs action to win victories.” — David J. Schwartz

Check out CoachingHope4U if you need tools to effectively play the game.


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