Satir Categories

Satir Categories

Satir categories are especially useful for calibration, when maintaining rapport with someone, getting someone level headed, and giving emotionally charged speeches. Virginia Satir discovered over her many therapy sessions with families, that when stressed in communication, people exhibited certain stances or attitudes.

Satir learned that not only did the person exhibiting the stress stance feel a certain emotion, but seeing someone in the stance also evoked emotion. You can check out speech videos of great speakers, and see how they use the stances. (Tony Robbins is a master of Satir stances.)

Communicators can take one of 5 stances or attitudes.

  1. Placater – placate the other so they don’t get mad (and I won’t get hurt).
  2. Blamer – blame so the other sees them as strong (and I don’t feel weak)
  3. Distracter – Distract or change the subject – pretend it isn’t happening (if I ignore it, it will go away)
  4. Computer (or Super Reasonable) – become analytical, using objective intellectual words to dissociate from the emotions of the communication.
  5. Leveler – congruently tell the other the truth of how things are for you right now.

Satir Categories and Pacing and Leading

When using the stances for rapport with another individual, you must find out the stance of the other person, and calibrate yourself, to pull them ultimately into the leveler position.

For a blamer, using a placater stance will shift their attention from their own view, and the context, to your view and the context. Be careful, it can also trigger a stronger blamer response – they become annoyed at you being gutless for instance.

For a placater, using a blaming stance will balance their view of self, other, and context. Be careful, it can also trigger a stronger placater response – they feel intimidated for instance.

For a computer, you can use a blamer stance or placating stance, they will switch to blamer or placater. You can then recalibrate. A distracter stance usually makes them worse.

For a distracter, use a computer stance until they switch, the re calibrate with placater or blamer. Be careful, the super reasonable attitude can also trigger a stronger distracter response.

A leveler is someone who will have a straight conversation with you about their beliefs. Some people are confident in staying in this stance. This stance can be matched with your own leveler stance for good rapport.

In all stances but the leveler, matching a stance with the same stance will not produce good results. Two blamers will argue, two placaters will wallow, two computers will be bored and unproductive, and two distracters will be in utter chaos. Try this out for yourself.

Satir Categories and Public Speaking

When giving speeches, using a variety of these stances will result in outstanding, emotionally charged speeches. It develops a strong rapport between speaker and audience. Since the speaker is alternating between stances, the audience feels a mass scale effect of pacing and leading. When the speaker changes to a stance he just spoke in, he can create a strong feeling of rapport in the audience. For example…

Speaker- (blamer) Fat people are lazy, they never try to get off their butts and do something.

Audience internal reaction-(placater) I’m fat, I shouldn’t be sitting around lazy.

Speaker- (placater)- But I know that I’m not perfect, because I can’t even get up on time in the morning!

Audience internal reaction- (blamer)- You aren’t perfect either!


Written with Craig McClure


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