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Section 12
Track #12: Overcoming Uncertainty

Table of Contents | NCCAP/NCTRC CE Booklet

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Note-Taking Exercise

What are four types of powerless statements?




What phrase is associated with each type of powerless statement?




Do any of the four types of powerless statements apply to you?  Which ones?


What changes in your pattern of speaking might you consider?

Transcript of Track 12

On the last track we discussed Overcoming Payoffs to Inactivity and Catastrophic Thinking.  Let's explore further some of the internal conflicts regarding what I am proposing in earlier tracks may cause for you.  If you are new on the job, and have 100% staff support and cooperation, you may be thinking, "What's the big deal!".  However, for purposes of this track, think about the staff member, or perhaps your administrator, who you anticipate as being unsupportive.

How you portray yourself is reflected in how you speak about yourself.  On this track, we will examine four types of powerless statements commonly made to bring yourself down.  These include:  false uncertainty statements, false inability statements, faultless apology statements, and self-mocking statements.

#1 False Uncertainty Statements
The first of these four self-put-down statements, false uncertainty statements, is characterized by saying “I think” about something which you know for a fact.  This kind of statement is often used to feel safe, just in case someone contradicts you.  It can also be used when trying to seem less knowledgeable, so you can avoid the title of being a show-off or know- it-all.  Think back.  How often do you say, “I think” about facts you know for certain?  Did you do it for security?  To mask your knowledge?  To be on the safe side?

Not to say that there’s anything wrong with saying “I think” when you actually aren’t sure.  To say “I know” in that case would be misleading and really would be a display of misplaced pride.  However, if you think you may have a problem with feigning ignorance on subjects about which you are knowledgeable, you might want to consider checking yourself when you say, “I think.”  Ask yourself, “Do you think, or do you know?” Then respond honestly.  So, don’t say, “I think surveyor guidelines state thus and so.”  It is important to drop the uncertain phrase of “I think” and state directly, “Surveyor guidelines state thus and so...” 

#2 False Inability Statements
The next type of powerless statement is false inability statements, or the “I’ll try” statements.  “Try” can be a hedge word, a convenient way to ride the fence.  When you fear failure, even when you have no reason to assume you will fail, do you say, “I’ll try” in an attempt to lower expectations in the off chance that you don’t succeed?  You may also use false inability statements when you aren’t sure you really want to do something.  If you notice this tendency in yourself, you may want to replace the powerless statement of , “I’ll try” with “I’m not sure yet.”  This way, you aren’t saying you doubt your ability to do the task, you just have not yet decided if you’re going to.  Do you see the difference?

#3 Faultless Apology Statements
Along with false uncertainty and false inability statements, faultless apology statements can also work in holding yourself down.  Do you often apologize for things you didn’t do, or were out of your control?  If so, , you are offering yourself as a general scapegoat to others.  Apologizing when something is not your fault drains your energy and, because you fail to differentiate, apologizing when something is not your fault interferes with your ability to improve when you actually are at fault. 

#4  Self-Mocking
The fourth type of powerless statement is self-mocking.  If you find yourself commonly making negative statements, whether you really believe them or not, you may want to re-evaluate the way you think about yourself.  Repeatedly saying or thinking, “I’m a failure” or “Nobody likes me” can have a real effect on how you are viewed by yourself and other staff.  Sure, everyone fails sometimes and gets irritated with themselves, but if you develop a “failure” mentality, it can stick in your head and act as a “self-fulfilling prophecy.”  Even if you’re just joking around, saying, “I’m so stupid,” others may begin to see you that way and start treating you without respect.  

Ellie was an Activities Director who had worked at the same 220 bed home for seven years.  She was quite good at developing a well rounded program for her residents, but the other staff didn’t have much respect for her.  Ellie was far from stupid, but she had a habit of joking around whenever she would forget something or make a mistake, saying, “Oh, I’m such a ditz sometimes!  I’d lose my head if it wasn’t attached.”  This self-deprecation, always announcing her flaws and never her good points, affected those who worked with her.  Nursing assistants would ignore Ellie.  One even said to her, “Look, I know what I’m doing, ok?  I went to school for this!”

The other staff’s opinion of her began to take a toll on Ellie’s confidence in her abilities.  She’d ask advice on what activities residents could handle, even though she already knew.  Whenever Ellie did state her opinion on something, she’d lead up to it by saying, “I think” or “I might be wrong,” then apologized if she was contradicted. 

As you can see, Ellie’s self-mocking jokes led her to make false uncertainty and faultless apology statements, which all fed her insecurity and self-belittling, leading to a position of powerlessness  

When you hear the musical tone, turn the CD player off and decide if any of the following apply to you and if a change might be considered:  False uncertainty statements, false inability statements, faultless apology statements, and self-mocking statements

On this track, we discussed four common self-belittling statements which negatively affect how we are viewed.  These are false uncertainty statements, false inability statements, faultless apology statements, and self-mocking statements. 

Remember just listening won't change anything regarding your goal of gaining cooperation from staff.  So when will you replay this track? 

Forward to Track 13
Back to Track 11

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