This is a fun one and it happens more than you realize.
Character Assassination is used harm someone else’s reputation. It’s a manipulative form of triangulation – in other words, the target RARELY knows what's going on. Why do people do this? There are a couple of main reasons that I’ve witnessed.
The first reason correlates to the sneaky way you dismiss information that you don't like or agree with. Have you ever received information about yourself that you don’t like? Of course you have! Well, when we hear something that we don't like (even - especially when it has a bit of truth to it), we will use a lot of tricky thinking to DEVALUE the person saying it. Because, if the source isn't credible, the information isn't credible.
Enter Character Assassination
I have a confrontive/caring style of therapy. There have been times when clients are not aware of the negative effects their behaviors have and when the awareness happens, their defenses naturally rise - and their sneaky little brains use character assassination to 'dismiss' the information they've been given...all in an effort to avoid negative emotions involved with taking accountability.
"Don't talk to him, he's not our type"
Is the prase of a snake, a hiss
And if you heed this lowly cry
A friend you'll likely miss
Jed Thorpe 1996 (for the rest of the poem, check out the Jan 19th, 2019 blog titled, "Your World".)
The other way it’s used is even more juvenile. Character Assassination is also used by people who are jealous or intimidated by another person. Think of stepping on others just to elevate yourself. This is actually a passive-aggressive (covert) form of bullying. The biggest one I hear is making negative jokes at someones expense - and while that someone is not in the room. Another is mimicking to ridicule or deliberately causing embarrassment/insecurity towards the target.
Sneaky, sneaky, sneaky.
Did you know that there’s actually a LAW about it? The ‘Character Assassination Law’ refers to slandering or vicious personal verbal attacks on a person with the intention of destroying or damaging that persons reputation or confidence.
Once the assassination happens, negative effects are difficult to reverse or even make right. Think of going to the top of a mountain with a feather pillow – and tearing the poor pillow up. The feathers will go all over the place and it would be impossible to pick them all up. Reversal is impossible. Making right is possible to a certain extent and involves the one doing the assassinating to disclose their own behaviors and take accountability.
How have you been effected and then recovered from something like this?
Thanks for reading and I’ll likely do a Jed Says YouTube on this topic. Check it out and be sure to subscribe to my ‘Jed Says’ channel at www.meaningtolive.com
Till Next Time,
Jed Thorpe, CMHC