Finally a name for a communications anti-pattern I’ve been thinking about for years…

One of my personal favorite movies is “The Princess Bride.” There are characters and situations in that movie that are well amazing. One of them however, fits part of a communication pattern that I have noticed over the years. Like all patterns there is an anti-pattern. My problem is with this particular one I’ve yet to find the completely full pattern. I’ve only identified the anti-patterns here.

So, for the first time, a communication Anti-Pattern first. In honor of the movie and the character the Dread Pirate Roberts (a character that existed only in the minds of those terrified of the Dread Pirate Roberts in other words, he wasn’t really as bad as the rumors say. Forget it, I love the movie too much. I am not naming this Anti-pattern after the Dread Pirate Roberts. Let’s figure out a better name…

This is the first communications Anti-Pattern I’ve developed that has two distinct components. They can function as normal team members if there is only one. If both are on your team you have an issue. They are the rumor spreader. This person is willing to say anything regardless of truth about someone else. They also will NEVER SAY THAT when the person is present. The second part of the anti-pattern is the receiver. This is a person that is willing to accept rumor as fact, and disregard facts presented that contradict the well un-truth based rumor later.

So in most cases when the rumor spreader attempts to spread disinformation they do so to a large audience one at a time. Most people look at that rumor or that person and say “go away.” But there are those who are looking for a reason or a problem, where the spreader is guilty of lying the receiver is guilty of blindness.

Not sure which is a worse anti-pattern frankly they are both bad. The spreader can destroy your team in less time than it takes them to talk to everyone on the team. They area usually very smart and very political and tend only to spread rumors when it is safe for them. IE they need to identify the receiver first. So you won’t see this anti-pattern in normal situations. In fact you may never you have on your team until it is too late.

I had the misfortune of working with a spreader and a receiver once. Sadly the receiver was my boss and it ended up being terrifying by the end. I had to transfer out because of that boss. It ended up costing me later as a new boss of mine was friends with that old boss. So watch for them. Receivers are willing to accept rumor as fact. Because of that they are willing to act on rumors without caring that in all cases there are two sides.

But the problem wasn’t the boss who was a receiver really. It was the spreader willing to lie. Why would someone lie? Frankly for their career and a willingness to sacrifice anyone else. Effectively this may be the without intent or malice the “human sacrifice” anti-pattern. The two ends of that spectrum being the system that broadcasts (spreader) and the system that acts on the broadcast (receiver). Truly a dangerous pair in the workplace.

Now that I think about it, the pattern here may be the unification communicator. Someone that makes sure everyone on the team knows about good news, works really hard to promote the work of others. The unification pattern is a positive team member that adds value to every meeting and event they attend. They are the person that comes to you and says we missed you, or thanks for doing that it really made things better.

Ah finally a name, without soiling the Dread Pirate Roberts, The Unification patter and the Un-raveler anti-pattern. The un-raveler comes in two flavors, the spreader and the receiver. What that means is first of all, don’t promote receivers. Second of all you need two unifiers for every team. Just in case you have the pair of Un-Ravelers.

The Unification Pattern and the Un-Raveler Anti-pattern. Remember half the Un-Raveler (either a receiver or a spreader) does do any damager on your team. Receivers that become managers are very dangerous for your organization. Spreaders aren’t functional without recovers. Lies only work if someone listens.

So when someone on your team is spreading good news – watch for the person that is saying “well it only worked in spite of…” Insert the name of the person responsible for success in the in spite of space. Then watch the reactions of the team members that are hearing that information. If they nod their head in agreement you may have found the spreader and the receiver. Not all teams have them. Just find out if your team does.


Communications wanderer…