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Maryanne plays
bummed out to perfection. Her main strategy is to get Martin – her protector -
to feel sorry for her.

•           “I am
worn out from trying”

•           “It is
exhausting, trying everything there is to try and people are still not

•           “I have
given this firm all I have”

•           “I am
just one person”

•           “Even
you think it is all me, now”

•           “I
guess someone needs to be the scapegoat”

Let Martin get
tough with Maryanne and then give him a guilt check. On a scale from one to
ten, he will register at least eight or nine. Maryanne is counting on it.

As an aside, you
occasionally see an interesting variation on the theme. The bummed out player
makes an alliance with several other players. As a bummed out diad or triad or
whatever, the crew supports each other’s bummed out patterns. People who play
together survive together. They usually describe their shared condition as
being burned-out or perhaps demoralized.

Maryanne takes
full advantage of Martin’s compassion. It enables her to use several more
bummed out techniques most creatively.

“I will try
to straighten it out but do not have much hope,” is integrated smoothly
into her play. Maryanne does not expect to succeed and goes on to make it clear
that it is not her problem anyway.

“I don’t know
what you are going to do about the problem you have.”

She sets up an
airtight and criticism-proof place to hide. She tells Martin that she cannot
fix the problem and makes sure he understands that it is his problem and not
hers. She gets points if things get better and loses nothing if they stay the
same or get worse. At this rate, she is good for at least another seventeen

The next technique
Maryanne uses is central to playing bummed out. It is hard to spot, though. No
matter what happens, the player must not defend or stick up for himself.

Martin says,
” . . . but to tell you the truth, I am beginning to get some heat about
you, your performance.” Notice that Maryanne never responds to this or to
any other implication that she might be inadequate or at fault.

“I am just
one person and can’t do it all. It must all be my fault.” Anyone who hears
any acceptance of responsibility or culpability in this is a prime candidate to
become some player’s protector. Even a beginning counter player can hear the
real messages.

•           Get off my

•           Quit kicking
me when I am giving it everything I have

•           I can take
it from them so long as you are here to protect me

Being negative
about almost everything is essential. Being nervous and up-tight is a good
touch too, a sign of an experienced bummed out player. Look at Maryanne’s
behavior and posturing as she waits for Martin to start the meeting. Along with
being tense, she reminds herself to be negative: a pessimist, as she calls it.

Maryanne wants no
part of anything positive. Martin says, “Generally, things are going
smoothly.” Not only does she fail to respond to this, Maryanne reminds
Martin from time-to-time that it is a negative environment.

•           “Things
are a mess around here”

•           “It is
like riding a roller coaster”

•           “It is
more than anyone can handle”

Maryanne also
remembers to remind Martin about her nervous condition. “I am a nervous
wreck from trying to straighten out everything that goes wrong.” For good
measure, she brings it up again. “It’s no wonder I get so nervous and

Maryanne does not
devalue herself, although this does work well for bummed out players in a pinch.
She plays the next best card, though. She devalues everyone and everything

“The things
and people who are important to me are not at this office.”

The things and
people who are important to her are somewhere else. Yes, that is exactly what
she says. Martin is not important to her. Her job is not important to her. The
people she works with are not important to her. Neither the law firm nor its
clients are important to her.

Listen well Martin
Koch. Maryanne is telling you something important. It may just have something
to do with why there are problems in her area.

What do you think,
Martin? You do not think, do you? You go with your feelings instead of going
with what Maryanne is telling you. Keep it up. Maryanne is counting on it.

Successful bummed
out players are experts at spotting and using people like Martin; and These
players are in no danger of extinction. There is usually a Martin for each

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