How To Keep My Mouth Shut?

How to keep your mouth shut when talking to a conniving snit of an ill-tempered communicator? A business-savvy Instigator communicator client, who specializes in appetite management systems, asked, “I want to walk away from here with a list of key words to keep myself under control…to keep my mouth shut. If I keep my mouth shut, I will be O.K. There are going to be more stressful times ahead. How do I use your TALK2ME© communication approach to keep my mouth shut?”


Now, that’s a dandy question for all Instigators who have those “out of mouth” experiences, and then they regret words spoken. “Can’t I take my words back?” they wonder. Nope. If you ever wished you could take your words back, chances are, you are Instigator communicator, feeling only of average communication skills. You perceive your counterparts, Empathizers, as being superior communicators. How can you control your actions so you don’t open mouth and insert foot?


When to be assertive and when to just listen? My Instigator colleague pointedly answered that Million Dollar Communication question. Key thoughts to keep your cool when temperatures rise…

  • Don’t be abrasive
  • No bitter sarcasm; be polite
  • No fuel to the fire of conflict
  • Be assertive, not aggressive
  • Keep control of yourself
  • Don’t do anything rash
  • If necessary, walk away when words fly


The AA slogan, “Easy does it!” teaches not over-doing, while the T2M slogan, “Easy says it!” teaches not over-talking. Emotional fuel is added to the fire when you have a negative attitude. Emotions confuse facts. “I’m right…and let me tell you why!” arguments land you in a ditch. How do you NOT do something rash when someone is coming at you with opinions, not facts? Well…how? Walk the talk pointers listed above….

“Talk Doc” Dennis O’Grady is a clinical psychologist, speaker, and seminar leader and developer of the TALK2ME© system.

I Feel Like The Crazy Person


“I feel like a crazy person!” said Jack, my 45-year-old health professional…and communications client…on a rainy, Ohio, fall day. “My wife abruptly left me two weeks ago, and I need to know that I’m not a loon! I know not all counselors are created equal, and your reputation is caring but tough. I hear you are a straight talker who tells it like it is. I’ve read parts of your effective communication book, Talk to Me, and now I need to talk.” Do you ever feel like problems are being re-created, making you feel as if you’re losing your mind? Well, you are as sane as the day is long.


When I am involved in relationship communication coaching, I first determine the communicator types of the players involved, as should you. Typically, your romantic partner is your opposite talk type. This proved true in the case of Jack and Jill. Jack was a male Empathizer-type (E-type) communicator, and in general, E-types tend to be more sensitive to others. Meanwhile, Jill was an Instigator (I-type) communicator, and in general, I-types tend to be more sensitive to self. Neither style is better or worse, just different. Jack spoke further of his anxious confusion:

What an idiot I am. Maybe I let her mess with my mind. And why don’t people see the control problem and realize she’s not the ‘nice guy’ she pretends to be? Why did I ignore the red flags flying? You know how you play that trust game in sensitivity training? The game where you fall backwards, with your eyes closed, and trust that your partner will catch you? Jill would never catch you. She has been very hurtful to me in the past. I don’t like to feel as though I’ve been defeated, so I hung in there too long.  Jill is cold, calculating and aloof.

As a “thin skinned” Empathizer communicator (E-type) , Jack can read the future in his crystal ball, but he can forget to forcefully stand up for himself in dominating ways with difficult people. Why? Because E-types hate conflict and drama.


What do you think? Should your partner apologize for hurting your feelings? Instigators feel exasperated and irritated by Empathizers’ hurt feelings. “We should send them all to Empathizer Island so they can complain to one another!” quipped one I-type communicator. I-types believe that, “E-types put put too much emphasis on an apology. They try to make us I-types feel guilty. Why should I be the one to apologize if I didn’t intend to hurt her feelings?” I-types like Jack, would agree that, “Apologies are the way people are held accountable for their promised actions.”


As they cover up their tracks with slippery-speak negatalking, reactive communicators of either type can make you feel like you have a few screws loose. According to Jack, what are the talk moves a tricky communicator makes, that compel you to feel like you’re losing your mind?

1.  Jill says I made her mad and disappointed. She gets angry when I bring things up…and try to talk about feelings…like I’m just making things up!

2. Jill says she doesn’t mean to hurt my feelings. I blame myself for not seeing the forest for the trees. What was I thinking? Why didn’t I leave her a long time ago? Why didn’t I see the meanness for what it was?

3. Jill says I don’t try hard enough. I plug up one leak in the dike with my finger, then another one, and I work hard but nothing changes. I play by the rules, and Jill still doesn’t change.

4. Jill says I have psychological issues. She always has someone to blame so she doesn’t have to look at her own issues!

5. Jill says she’s only trying to help me. She squirms out of taking responsibility as she twists the truth. “That’s her story, and she’s going to stick to it!”

6. Jill says it’s not her fault and everyone agrees with her. She rallies the troops and debates forever and a day when I ask legitimate questions.

7. Jill says I won’t change because I’m stubborn. She uses the perfect “nice guy” image outside the home which people can’t see through.  But she leaves psychic bodies strewn all around in her own home!

8. Jill says I act childish and take things too personal. I get down on myself when she talks down to me. Sometimes I feel stupid and confused when I try to get to the bottom of issues. Maybe I don’t remember clearly?

9. Jill says I’m stupid. Maybe I do ask too many questions? Do I come across as too emotionally needy?

10. Jill says I’m too negative. Maybe my negative thoughts and positive attitude aren’t where they ought to be?

11. Jill says she loves me in spite of my mistakes. And that no one else would ever treat me as well as she does. Am I losing it?

Crazytalk makes you doubt your own perceptions with irrelevant questions. And if you wish a male version of an emotional terrorist, read Lundy Bancroft’s book, Why Does He Do That? Inside The Minds of Angry and Controlling Men.


Jill says she loves me. But should love drain you and hurt you? The tricky communicator creates self-doubt within easy going Empathizer listeners. All of these are slick ways that make you feel like you’re a nut who hasn’t fallen too far from the tree. That’s why Jill says, “He’s making me crazy!”


“I feel like I’m the crazy person here!” indicates that communication problems are being perpetuated, not resolved. There’s nothing wrong with your mind! In fact, “If at first you don’t succeed…try, try, doing something different!” is my change motto. Poor communication clouds the insight needed to determine what steps are needed to solve a problem, ensuring that problems go unsolved. “Crazytalking crazymaking” is the emotional experience of “the elephant in the room…stinks.” You don’t want to feel like one of your front porch lights has burned out, although your light may be dimming.


Particularly, more sensitive E-types are bound to question if they’re (not you) the crazy ones. Now say with me, “I’m not crazy because a licensed psychologist who is licensed to tell me if I am crazy says I’m NOT CRAZY! Whew…take a deep breath, go easy, relax for a second, will ya? Of course, you aren’t going to allow anyone to drive you crazy without your consent. By the end of our meeting, Jack didn’t feel crazy or depressed, and he had renewed energy to address the problems at hand. Jack wasn’t loony tunes. This situation was about a tricky and strategic talker who is a negative communicator. Are we clear instead of confused, now?


Dennis O’Grady is the father and developer of the innovative Talk to Me© effective communication system, which streamlines communication that is productive and useful, inside your head and inside your relationships. Confusing emotions chase us all, but the Talk to Me© approach to good communication will help boost your mood, keep your energy up, and free yourself from the road tar of negative relationships or emotions.

Are You Being Emotionally Blackmailed?

Are you being emotionally blackmailed? Here’s a quick test — spell out the Manipulative Genius of your talk antagonist right now…








Bitchy (bastardly)


Back stabbing





Cunning as a fox

It’s as easy as doing your A-B-C’s. One “yes” strike and your Fatal Attraction movie friend should strike out of your life game, altogether. Dead on?

Thanks, Dr. Susan Forward, who coined the term Emotional Blackmail, in the book by the same name. Thanks as well to Dr. Robert Glover, author of No More Mr. Nice Guy. And thanks to Dr. Robin Stern who authored The Gaslight Effect. Read them and leap ahead in your life.

Dr. Dennis O’Grady is a Dayton family business consultant and relationship counselor. Dennis is the developer of the TALK2ME system and can be reached at 937-428-0724.

Snarky Communicators

Do you live with someone or work around a person who is short-tempered or irritable? Are you aware that a moody person drains the energy of positive people who are powerful communicators? The purpose of snide remarks – known as snarky comments – is to hurt you and catch you off guard by sarcastically twisting the truth. Your self-confidence is poisoned and your hopeful mind is obliterated with negative thinking.


A snark is a shark dressed in a dolphin’s swimming suit. How one Empathizer described a Negatalker shark at work who’s snarky…

I read your article, “Negatalkers: People At Work Who Drain You.” What is the best way to deal with employees like this? I have one who spends her whole day doing this. She’s been with the company for decades and thinks she knows the best way to do everything. I have been her co-worker and now supervisor. It is truly hell to work with her. She doesn’t do her job well, so I have to reassign her tasks. Firing her is probably out of the question. Getting away from her negative behaviors would help greatly. Any advice?

Snarks specialize in putting you between a rock and a hard place. Problem is: You’re snarked if you do try to interact with them and you’re snarked if you don’t. Awareness is the first step to changing this energy-draining dance.


Here’s the “light came on” psychology behind Negatalkers, who pride themselves in living in the shadows by being snarky…

1. SPITEFUL. Snarks believe that if you hurt or sting from their finger jabbed in your eye, you deserve it. Should you grow a thicker skin to cope?

2. HATEFUL. Snarks believe you’re the gum on somebody’s shoe, a bad person who should lower your head when they walk by. Do hurtful words bounce off or stick to you?

3. SNIPES. Snarks gripe, snipe, snip, zap, and sap the positive energy of sensitive souls. Does your mind become confused when diffused with gutless negativity?

4. SNIDE. Snarks believe they have the perfect right to judge you and hand you a manure sandwich. What guilt trip are you packing for?

5. MEAN-SPIRITED. Snarks prey on people who are passionately caring. Who’s the energy vampire in your life that you’re baring your neck to?

6. FINGER-POINTING. Snarks always take the cheap parting shot because they believe you’re the one who has the problem.  Do you remember when a finger is pointed at you, four fingers are pointing back at the blamer?

7.  BRAINWASHING. Snarks impress feelings into others to ruin dreams and scheme to keep dark clouds over the sun of good ideas. Do Negatalkers drain the cup of your optimism with bad vibe feelings and impressions that make you think upside-down is really right-side up?

8. ENTITLEMENT. Snarks believe “You owe me!” for the troubles they’ve created.  Are you a guilt magnet because you’re so tuned into the feelings of others?

9. DELIGHT IN DESTROYING. Snarks believe you should pretend that everything is fine after they puncture the tire of your self-esteem with a knife. Do you feel the spirit of change moving you to park clear of Negatalkers?

10. IT’S JUST A GAME OF WORDS…NOT AN EXPERIENCE. It’s just a game for Snarks to say the words that penetrate you with loss. Do you willingly bring loss into your life by opening the door to pessimists?

11.  LIMITING OPTIONS. Snarks believe you should have a caring relationship with someone who despises you. Are you getting tired of feeling you have to pay dues to a relationship tyrant?

12. IRRITATING AND ANNOYING. Snarks want you to live a limited life that includes catering to them. Are you allowing your gas tank to being siphoned off by annoying people?

13. NOT SORRY FOR SAYING THE HURTFUL COMMENT. Snarks are only sorry for getting caught saying a nasty comment that is truer about them than you. Don’t you have your own set of issues and goals to work through?

14. SPINNING. Snarks are the spin doctors of all times – they brainwash you in conniving and convincing ways. Isn’t it time to look for greener pastures?

15. MISERY LOVES COMPANY. What hurts you makes a Snark happy. Can you accept that some people are hateful, spiteful, and vengeful, and only feel good when you feel bad?

16. RIDING THE PITY PONY. Snarks spread poison like a Scorpion behind the scenes. Are you riding the pity pony when you should be taking the bus?

17. DRIVING THE WEDGE. Snarks drive a wedge between good and loving people like YOU and what is important to you. Are you promoting chaos when you can’t get to sleep because you’re thinking about Snarks?

Your good mood and positive communication tools are the antidotes to stop the spreading poison that all generations of Negatalkers inflict. Snarks, it seems, use the oldest tricks in the book, with the new twist of a moniker that befits a diabolical communicator.


Dr. Dennis O’Grady is a Communication Expert and Developer of the TALK2ME Communication Roadmap. You, too, can profit from better communication!  Talk with Dennis at 937-428-0724.

Who’s Siphoning Off Your Energy?

Who’s siphoning off the energy from your blue Empathizer or burnt orange Instigator communicator car? Do you feel that the tank that stores your juicy life energy, passion, and enthusiasm for life has been sucked dry? Toxic communicators spew out poison wherever they go. Not only are they bad apples in the orchard, but they also put your fellow travelers to sleep at the wheel, as they travel down Talk Highway. Watch out for that tree or ditch! According to the Talk2Me© research I’ve conducted, 17% or so of people at work or in your extended family are Negatalkers, people who live off your energy by complaining about what is working instead of changing what isn’t working.


Negatalkers are men and women, young and old, smart and dim, who drain energy like a champion — without getting fingered. I use a gas siphon as a visual prop in the communications training workshops I conduct. If you don’t confront Negatalkers, they keep on stealing your will, like an Energy Vampire who steals from you at night. Negatalkers sow many “D’s Of DISCORD” in toxic communication, by siphoning away the energy from your communicator car gas tank, whether it be a Blue Empathizer or Burnt Orange Instigator. How can you tell who is a Negatalker?


When you are around a Negatalker, you will feel “wozzy” because of the effects of the Negatalker’s toxins and poisons, which are settling into your system:

• Despair
• Division
• Dread
• Deadlock
• Disputes
• Derision
• Disdain
• Doubt
• Disinformation
• Distancing
• Distrust
• Disgust
• Disrepair

Nothing changes for the better when Negatalkers are driving things from the backseat!


Negatalkers are spineless, bullying cowards who create jawless victims, siphoned of all life’s energy. They toss a hot potato of grief like a live hand grenade, back and forth, with those they know and claim they love…then, BOOM! Their victims’ dreams are blown up and away in the mayhem.


If you don’t confront Negatalkers, they keep on stealing your will like an Energy Vampire. Another visual: The play and movie about the man-eating plant in “Little Shop Of Horrors” depicts a song, “Feed Me, Seymour!” where Audrey II grows bigger and more fierce the more life energy is sucked dry. In exchange, a bargain is made with the Talk Devil. You become successful as you silently look the other way, while the Negatalkers kill off hope.


Dennis O’Grady, Psy.D., is a couples communication coach with 30+ years experience developing effective communication skills that work when the heat is on. Dr. O’Grady’s couple communication textbook is Talk To Me: Communication Moves To Get Along With Anyone. Dennis can be reached by calling New Insights Communication at (937) 428-0724.