Hijacking the grey rock technique

In this excerpt from the Building Psychological Strength podcast, April Seifert talks with Peter Montoya about strategies to follow when you’re talking with someone that has morally reprehensible opinions.

a lot of really disparate, like opposing views all ladder down to the basics of I want to keep my kids safe.




You’re just going about it in a wholly different ways, but if you can get down to that core of why I want to keep my kids safe, you may vehemently disagree on the how, but the why of it might be just that tiny thread of connection.


I couldn’t agree more. I was having these political battles nearly 15 years ago with my neighbor across the street. We really disagreed that at a time over the Iraq war and climate change and things like that,


toilet paper ourselves, you know, I did. I’m just getting


such a good guy and I really kind of spin it now. So it’s going to completely disagree with me on the Iraq war and on climate change. And I was so angry about that. And I thought, you know what?


We both love our kids. We both live in the same socio economic neighborhood. We’re ninety five percent the same. We love jokes. And we would play poker together and we would eat chips and salsa and we would have so much fun together.


So why am I letting these two issues which really are not germane to our everyday life? Get in the way of our relationship? So that was kind of one of my first kind of inklings to realizing that we really probably agree on 60, 70, 80 percent of things.


And why am I why do we let these things of disagreement ruin the other places of agreement?


Yeah, I love that. OK, so let’s say you’re in this conversation, though, and they really say something terrible. Yeah. Like I mean, it’s it’s just I don’t want to say objectively, because we’re bad judges of what’s objective. I mean, none of us are truly objective, but truly something awful.


If it just really degrades to a bad


place with a friend and my friend said, who’s a good person? He’s a good human being. He said, if I take a gun and put it the head of every one of the other side, I would. And he said that.


And, you know, I agree with many of his political views, but that was an extremist view. And so I adopted this strategy from how you deal with narcissists, and it’s called “Gray Rocking.” Have you heard of what the Gray Rock is?


I have not. But I’m so curious now.


So with narcissists, narcissists oftentimes bring up topics to get into a reaction out of you. But they intentionally do. They want to provoke you and their provocation of you as a way of controlling you. So they want to make you angry.


They want to make you upset. They want to somehow get you stimulated. And it is one of the ways they get their cheap thrills. And so, to gray rock with a narcissist and or two gray rock in a social or political conversation when someone says something completely and totally outrageous is to go to a gray rock.


So you kind of invasion yourself like a gray rock. Well, you don’t have any facial features. You don’t nod. You don’t reply. You don’t blink. You don’t look away. You are just stone cold and you don’t agree or disagree.


And all you’re doing is putting them into this incredibly socially awkward scenario of going, well, if I disagreed, they would give him great energy. If I agree, it gives him great energy. But now I’m giving them nothing. And they’re socially awkward.


And that moment of social awkwardness creates enough of a speed bump in their mind where they’re going. OK, this this is weird. It’s awkward. No one’s saying anything. I guess I better move on the conversation. And so you can be in those moments and not give them the satisfaction of agreeing and not give them the satisfaction of


disagreeing, which is just another way that they can double down on some awful, horrible, immoral thought.


If you are more committed to national unity than partisanship, please check out my book, The Second Civil War: A Citizen’s Guide to Healing Our Fractured Nation. My book will challenge you to improve your relationships with friends and family.


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