Name Calling, Insults and Teasing

A Guide To Anger, Conflict and Respect

Archive for the category “ruminations”


A few weeks ago I published a post titled CONFLICTS WITH OURSELVES: LESSONS FROM CHARLIE BROWN.  Today, let’s quickly review the ideas presented there, and then move on to discuss a few more.


When one person has a conflict with another person, we call this an interpersonal conflict.  An intrapersonal conflict occurs when a person has a conflict with himself or herself.

When we describe a conflict using the DIG Conflict Model, the letters of the word, “DIG,” helps to remind us to first dig to find the DESIRE, then something that INTERFERES with the desire, and finally, the GUILT.  Earlier, we looked at the following example of an intrapersonal conflict:


When we looked earlier at this example, I provided the following tentative description of Charlie Brown’s intrapersonal conflict:

Charlie Brown seems to desire that he not yell at his baby sister, but the fact that he did has led him to perceive that, interfering with his desire, he is likely to continue his yelling at his sister.  He appears to feel guilty for his actions by saying he feels terrible and hates himself.

It would be simpler to describe this conflict by saying:

Charlie Brown desired that he not yell at his baby sister, but he interfered with his desire by yelling at her.  He felt guilty about it.

In this simpler description, we still have all of the three conditions for a conflict–that is, the desire, the interfering act and the guilt.  But they all took place in the past.  To become an expert at dealing with conflicts, we must learn to describe an existing conflict as something relevant to the future.  This skill will help us to prevent similar conflicts from recurring over and over again.

Okay, so there’s our summary in what was presented the last time we discussed intrapersonal conflicts.  Let’s now move on to some more advanced ideas.

Advanced Lesson

Whenever we have a conflict with ourselves, we oftentimes present to ourselves some negative criticism.  In the above three panels of the Charlie Brown comic, Charlie Brown indicates he has evaluated how he treated his sister and he makes it clear that he doesn’t like what he did.  When we evaluate something and state we don’t like what we evaluated, we have provided negative criticism.

In an earlier blog, we looked at providing negative criticism during interpersonal conflicts.  We saw that according to the DIG Conflict Model, there are five levels of maturity when it comes to providing negative criticism (see blog post titled, PROVIDING NEGATIVE CRITICISM:  FIVE LEVELS OF MATURITY).  Level 1 is viewed as the most immature level, and level 2 is viewed as a bit more mature, and so on.  Readers of this blog were encouraged to familiarize themselves with the five levels, and then to use them in the following way:

First, they learn to recognize that they are getting ready to provide somebody criticism.

male criticism

Then they pause to think about how they are likely to provide the criticism.

Jack criticism 2

Then, before they provide the negative criticism, they decide what level of maturity the criticism they are likely to give is at.  If it is below level 4, they try to change the criticism so that it matches level 4, or even level 5.

In this example, the man is the employer of the woman who wrote a report.  After looking it over, he sees he is likely to provide criticism in a style that would best match level 2, which states:

2.  This level requires displaying one or both of the following:

  • The criticizer does not explain what the offending behavior is, but instead expresses displeasure with glares, insults, shouting, silence, or threats that do not involve bodily harm.
  • Threatens bodily harm regardless of what else is said.

Now, I understand that some of you might feel that the employer deserves a higher rating because he does explain what the offending behavior is when he says the report is stupid.  But this just indicates in some vague way that he doesn’t like the report using the insulting word, “stupid.”  In my opinion, his comment is not an adequate description of what he doesn’t like about the report to warrant a more mature rating.

Seeing that this type of criticism is a bit immature, the man’s job in this example would then be to try to come up with a form of criticism that matches one of the more mature levels.  One of the more mature levels is level 4:

4.   The criticizer states the criticism without bodily attacks, damaging property, glares, insults, threats, or shouts, and with enough details so that the criticized person, if he or she wills, can improve the behavior, idea, or appearance.  If the person receiving the criticism becomes defensive or angry, the criticizer empathizes without returning glares, insults, threats, or shouts.

In this example, by pausing and thinking about level 4, the man asks himself to describe his criticism in a clearer, more precise way than shouting “The report is stupid!”  To help him to clarify his thoughts, he uses the word “DIG.”  Thus, he says to himself that “I desire that in the future this woman who wrote this report will follow the directions that I give her and interfering with this desire is the fact that in this report she did not do so.  I think she is guilty of ignoring my directions.”

Having slowed down so he can think about this, the man now decides that the best way to provide the criticism to the woman is to wait until he has managed to calm himself down enough so he can speak to her using a respectful tone of voice and without any insulting words.  Then he will go over the first direction he had given to her and ask her to describe how she might have written the report so that he would have seen that the report writer is following his direction.  If she is not sure how to respond, he could then explain more thoroughly what he wants when she attempts to follow this direction.  After clarifying the first direction, he could go over in a similar way his second direction, and so forth.

Now, I don’t mean to suggest that this is the only resolution to this employer’s conflict.  For example, he could instead assign the best report writer in his company to mentor this employer.  The mentor would review each of her reports before she hands them in, show her copies of high quality reports, and so on.   The point is that this employer can improve the quality of his criticism by pausing before providing the criticism, thinking about how he is preparing to provide the criticism, comparing it to the five levels of providing negative criticism, and then seeking a way to change the criticism to something that matches a more mature level.

With intrapersonal conflicts we carry out a similar plan as we do with interpersonal conflicts.

Let’s return to our Charlie Brown example:


Here we see that even before first recognizing he is about to provide himself negative criticism, he has already done so.  That’s not the end of the world.  Many old habits are not easy to change quickly, and if you find yourself slipping into past styles of dealing with conflicts, you need not beat yourself up over this.  There are better ways to helpfully carry on.

In our Charlie Brown example, even after having already provided negative criticism, he can still go through the steps we discussed for dealing with interpersonal conflicts.  That is, he can first look at how he did criticize himself and then compare it to the five levels of responding to criticism.  Then, he can pick out which of the five levels best matches his response.

In my judgement, Charlie Brown’s response falls somewhere between level 2 and level 3.

Level 2 states:

2.  This level requires displaying one or both of the following:

  • The criticizer does not explain what the offending behavior is, but instead expresses displeasure with glares, insults, shouting, silence, or threats that do not involve bodily harm.
  • Threatens bodily harm regardless of what else is said.

Charlie Brown, in this example does state what the offending behavior is.  That is, he says, “I shouldn’t have yelled at her, she is only a baby.”  But to match level 3 his response would have to look like this:

3.  The criticizer clearly states the criticism with enough detail so the criticized person, if he or she wills, can improve the behavior, idea, or appearance, but couples it with glares, insults, shouts, or threats that are not about bodily harm.

Charlie Brown’s criticism of himself, in my opinion, is not quite clear enough to fully match level three.  The fact that he repeatedly says he hates himself seems to be an example of insulting himself so that part of his criticism matches both level 2 and 3.

Once Charlie Brown figures out about what level his response had been, he could then see if he could come up with a response that better matches a more mature response, perhaps level 4, or even level 5.

Attempting to describe interpersonal conflicts using the letters in the word “DIG” can be helpful for coming up with a more mature response.  Similarly, attempting to describe intrapersonal conflicts using the letters in the word “DIG” can be helpful for coming up with a more mature response.  What would that look like?  Here’s one way Charlie Brown can do this:

He tells himself,

I desire that I not yell at my baby sister, but the fact that I did has led me to guess that, interfering with my desire, I’m likely to continue yelling at her.  I feel guilty for my actions.

Notice that there are no insults in this statement.  This statement is an important step toward coming up with negative criticism that matches a level 4 or 5 response.  Charlie Brown still must go on from here to come up with a plan that can help him to become less likely to yell at his baby sister.  Next week we will begin to look at some plans to help him do just that.


For those of you who truly want to become a master at dealing with intrapersonal conflicts, I recommend that you now take the time to either print out the five levels of providing negative criticism (see PROVIDING NEGATIVE CRITICISM:  FIVE LEVELS OF MATURITY) or if you don’t have a printer, write them out in any way you can.  Then, tape them to your refrigerator door.  This week, each time you see them, try to recall some time that you provided negative criticism to yourself.  Try to recall just what you said to yourself.  Then, try to see what level best matched what you said to yourself, and if it is less than a 4 or 5 level, try to create a response that would match a higher level response.  With this type of practice, you will soon see some real progress in your skills to deal effectively with intrapersonal conflicts.


Some people will enjoy reading this blog by beginning with the first post and then moving forward to the next more recent one; then to the next one; and so on. This permits readers to catch up on some ideas that were presented earlier and to move through all of the ideas in a systematic fashion to develop their emotional and social intelligence. To begin at the very first post you can click HERE.


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