LGAT and introspection?
Date: September 08, 2004 01:32PM
I have read more of your posts today and have had some more thoughts on your situation.
My first post on this board was about how I have been saying no to EST and Landmark for about twenty-five years. My most recent encounter with Landmarkism started when an old childhood friend called me to try to enroll me in Landmark. She had done EST in the 1970’s and went to Landmark two years ago after her third divorce and an encounter with cancer. The realizations she had after both of those experiences scared her and she was looking for a review of her beliefs and a supportive group to join.
She didn’t tell me that she had returned to Landmark at the time and last year when she came to town to visit family and friends she didn’t try to enroll me. She was doing the Advanced Course at the time. But this year she is in the Self Expression and Leadership Program which is where participants are required to enroll new people as part of the program. They must enroll a certain number of people in an Introductory Evening before they themselves can lead an introductory evening - in other words become a certified un-paid salesperson. Of course participants are asked to start selling from day one in level one - the Forum - by calling their family and friends to tell them how wonderful it is and how much they are already learning, but not everyone complies with that idea.
In Landmark courses participants are encouraged to ‘enroll’ the people in their lives into their new way of being in general terms. Then Landmark connects that concept to getting the participants to ‘enroll’ their acquaintances in Landmark courses specifically.
Landmark people used to use much more obnoxious enrolling techniques. They must have lost some potential customers because they have toned down and have become ‘kinder and gentler’ over time. However, and this is insidious, they use the fact that they have become kinder and gentler as their latest sales tactic. My friend used this tactic on me. When I told her that when I attended an introductory evening in the early 1990’s the staff people weren’t terribly obnoxious about enrolling me. She said that she was amazed because many people had complained about it over the years and that now Landmark organization was ‘getting better’ and not using such irritating tactics on people.
So they have adjusted to what customers want and will respond to - because they are a company and they need customers. Anyway, my friend used her most possibly effective techniques AFTER I said no and told her that I would not join because I needed sleep to prevent me from becoming manic and just the stress of the long days would probably set me off too. She just kept coming at me and I just kept saying no. I also used her new language when I said that I would find a way to do ‘new possibilities in my life’ some other way that wouldn’t jeopardize my mental health. She ‘got it’ as they say. I didn’t insult her and we will continue to be friends. I am learning how to communicate with her more effectively and maintain contact by reading Steven Hassan’s book.
When my friend called me to enroll me I was needing some inspiration. I considered going to the Forum for this reason. But, I took the time to really think about it and the possible consequences. I realized that doing the Forum would stress me too much. But, I got the inspiration I needed just by my interaction with my friend. After three years of being tired and worn out I started researching new information on nutrition and how to increase my energy and manage my manic-depressive condition - which I have posted in the Recovery section here on this site. So I got what I needed, not what she wanted to sell me, which would have probably worsened my condition, or at least have distracted me from what I really needed to do which was research. I’ll talk more with my friend later, when I am ready.
But, a sales tactic is a sales tactic, whether it’s hard or soft sell. It’s still manipulative. I don’t know how much your husband’s friend has already influenced your husband, even if the friend isn’t consciously trying to sell what he is doing.
The friend has already told you the benefit he has gotten. He saw himself as an ‘outsider’ growing up and he adopted and refined that as he got older. He used it as a strength. Then, however he got to the Forum, he realized that he really wanted to be and likes being an ‘insider’. He is en-joy-ing being in a group. And what do people do when they enjoy something? They want to ‘share’ it with their friends and get them to join their new enjoyable activity and be part of their new group. They may do it for their own benefit - so that the old friend ‘speaks their new language’ - or they may do it thinking that they are helping their friend the way they were ‘helped’ - benefitted.
You can read about all of the potential disastrous results that can happen as a result here on this website. Married and other couples breaking up, friends being lost, etc. But this isn’t the only way relationships break down. Whenever one person in a couple changes and the other one doesn’t co-operate and change or accept the change of the other person, that’s what happens.
I don’t know how much influence your husband’s friend has on him, but you do. You already know that your husband ‘looks up’ to his friend so the friend is usually the more powerful person in the relationship. I would highly recommend reading Steven Hassan’s book, ‘Releasing The Bonds’, BEFORE the friend has a chance to influence him. You can save yourself the worry (stress) by informing yourself ahead of time, and when and if necessary you will know how to cut the friend off at the pass without interrupting your husband’s relationship with him - which may or may not be distressing to your husband. You’ll be able to see clearly how the friend is ‘selling’ his new-found belief system and group - whether he is ‘enrolling’ your husband in Landmark intentionally or not. You can stop the battle before it even starts.
The ‘Strategic Interaction Approach’ Steven Hassan teaches in the book involves indirect, non-confrontational communication techniques that are more effective than using rational confrontational arguments when conversing with someone who has joined a new group - or taken on a belief sytem without joining a group. It’s very interesting and can be useful in many other situations.
While I have been reading the book I have had to mentally change the word ‘cult’ whenever it appears so that I can apply what is being said to Landmark. Landmark may not be technically a cult but it is a potentially destructive group. So I have to insert LGAT when I’m reading it. For instance in the book Steven Hassan discusses how people who join a new group develop a new personality which he calls the ‘cult identity’. He talks about how to get around the new identity in order to communicate with the authentic, pre-cult identity of the person and re-connect them with the good parts of their life before they joined the new belief system (cult). In the book this step is in preparation for an intervention, but the techniques can be used to prevent the need for an intervention in the first place. I love it.
Do you remember the old cigarette ad that said ‘I would rather FIGHT than switch’? Well, a lot of people would rather SWITCH than fight. This is how people buy into new ways of behaving and believing. Sometimes they’ll do anything to avoid a confrontation. They'll 'switch teams' so to speak.
And people think only teenagers are susceptible to 'peer pressure'? Not.