Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Good Cop, Bad Cop

Just an informal observation. Many a time over the years I've noticed a two-person dynamic which can arise within a group. Two persons within the group, call them the Good Cop and the Bad Cop. Or call them Mr. Mellow and Mr. Uptight. Or Velvet Glove and Iron Fist. Or Goodfellow and the Drill Sergeant.

The interaction (and sometimes sparring) between the two of them can color the atmosphere of the entire group.

And what I've observed is this. None of us have complete insight into the dynamics of a group we're a part of; all of us have our blind spots. But that said, my suspicion is that one hardly ever encounters a Bad Cop, a Mr. Uptight, an Iron Fist, a Drill Sergeant, who has any real insight into, or conscious awareness of, the two-person dynamic I've just delineated. The Uptight Drill Sergeant is flying blind, the puppet of psychological forces he can neither acknowledge nor recognize, whether in himself or in the group.

Whereas when you do find insight and awareness on this front, it will usually be found in the Good Cop, Mr. Mellow, Velvet Glove, Goodfellow; or also, just as often, in other members of the group who are bystanders and witnesses to the goings-on.

The rest can see what's coming down. But in the Ballad of Goodfellow and the Drill Sergeant, the Drill Sergeant is always the last to know. The Drill Sergeant is always the last to recognize his own role in the unfolding psychodrama.

Actually the Drill Sergeant, the Bad Cop, is often fairly effective within the group, and can make valuable contributions. Just that along with his effectiveness comes a peculiar blindness and lack of self-insight.

Just my informal observation in a variety of different group settings down through the years.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

type a bulldozers are not exactly noted for self insight

self insight gets in the way of 'control' attitudes, so guess which one gets thrown overboard

Wednesday, April 11, 2007 2:53:00 PM  
Blogger Paul Burgess said...


I think you've hit the nail on the head. Type A personality, Type B personality! What I was trying to describe is a dynamic one sometimes sees in a group where there are two prominent or leading members, one a Type A and the other a Type B.

Now why didn't I think of that?! :-)

Wednesday, April 11, 2007 4:24:00 PM  

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