Beware the “Hoover Manuever”

“You can’t make me!”
“But why?!”
“But I don’t want to!”
“Yeah right!”
“You and what army?!”
“Ain’t no way, no how!”
“Get outta here!”
“That’s bullshit”
“Come on, be cool” (invitation to be their buddy)
“Look, this is unreasonable, let’s talk about it” (not a sincere request)
Sound effects: “Pfft” “ka” “gawh” “awww” “maannnn” “dude!” “geez” “What the . . .”
And then there are the wonderful delay tactics and silence options.
Sometimes people will simply give you the look.

People (and especially children) will try and throw you a rope hoping that you’ll engage and play the “I’m Right” tug of war game with them. They perceive that something has to be done, because they believe that what they want is threatened. There really isn’t any discussion on the matter at hand, for example cleaning their room, but they have learned that arguments can help them avoid what they do not want.

So, we become reliant on throwing each other a “rope” hoping that the other will pick it up and start “playing”. It has also been called the “Hoover Maneuver” because they try and suck you in.

The only way to neither win nor loose that game is not to play. Picking up the rope will make the game real.  Of the above strategies for dealing with behavior quickly, ignoring works well as a first attempt. If they keep offering you the rope, the following responses will only feed the game:

  • “just please do it”
  • calling them names
  • threatening them
  • attempting to humiliate them
  • punishing them
  • rewarding them or picking up the rope in some other way.

Instead, use some strategies like humor, eye contact, or perhaps stating your feelings. In any case, don’t pick up the rope!

Leave the Rope, Meet the Heart

When we’re faced with anger, frustration, or other kinds of pain, we can pick up the rope and become defensive. The tug-of-war often takes the below six forms. The resulting power struggle makes holistic solutions difficult.

We are a traitor to ourselves when we allow someone to mistreat us and then defend the person’s behavior, taking the blame ourselves.
“He just treated me rudely because he was in a bad mood.” “I should have known better than to ask a question just then.”
We outwardly give in or cooperate with someone and then undermine the person in some way.  Passive aggressive.
We might talk about the person behind her back, or procrastinate about doing something we told the person we’d do.
We avoid talking to someone about something we don’t want to discuss.
We might simply not answer, or leave the room, or change the subject.
We refuse to give information to someone as a way to trap him/her into doing something inappropriate or making a mistake.
We might just stare at the person and not answer a question she asks until she gets embarrassed and drops it or gets angry and says something that’s inappropriate.
We explain our own behavior or make excuses if someone questions or criticizes us to let him know he is wrong to be upset with us.
We might say “I would have gotten that done sooner, but I’ve been really busy,” or, “I’m doing my best,” or “I can’t work any faster.”
We attack or judge the other person to defend ourselves.
We might blame the other person for whatever the problem is, saying perhaps, “You are always so critical,” or, “Why are you in such a bad mood?”