Often, the person with a problem will consciously or unconsciously use a variety of “traps” to protect him or herself when being confronted. Examples of these traps include:
Sympathy: Trying to get you involved in his/her personal problems.
Excuses: Having increasingly improbable explanations for everything that happens.
Apology: Being very sorry and promising that they will change. (“It won’t happen again.”)
Diversions: Trying to get you to talk about other issues in life or in the workplace.
Innocence: Claiming he/she is not the cause of the problems you observe, but rather the victim. (“It isn’t true.” “I didn’t know.” “Everyone is against me.”)
Anger: Exhibiting physically intimidating behavior, blaming others. (“It’s your fault I drink.”)
Pity: Using emotional blackmail to elicit your sympathy and guilt. (“You know what I’m going through. How can you do this to me now?”)
Tears: Falling apart and expressing remorse upon confrontation.
When these traps are used unconsciously, the individual may indeed truly feel sorry and be determined to change, but without treatment and appropriate support, it is unlikely that they will succeed.