Facilitation Antipattern: Hoarder

Posted by Doc
Feb 12 2009

hoarderMotto: The more I have, the more important I am.
Belief: Controlling information gives me power and makes me important.
Behavior: Doles out information in little bits, controlling the flow. Waits to be asked before sharing.
Characteristics: Quiet, selfish, frightened, insecure, terse

The Hoarder is all about control of information. She believes that it’s all that gives her an edge, makes her important, in a world that seems hostile and highly competitive. She rarely shares without being directly asked, because it’s only her control of information that maintains her sense of position and power.

This is not to say that Hoarders are actually powerful. Their power – such as it is – is illusory and mostly perceived only by the Hoarder. Others frequently see the Hoarder as obstructionist, frustrating, and self-serving.

Since Hoarders are naturally insecure and suffering from self-image issues, dealing with them requires putting aside your emotional reactions and biases toward this kind of behavior, and encouraging them through recognition and appreciation.

As with most of the antipatterns, the people who exhibit Hoarder tendencies can be either moderate or pathological.  That is, some do it out of habit, rather than a psychological need to be in control. These folks will probably respond readily when either encouraged or when having it privately explained to them. Note that I said “explained to them” not “confronted”. Confrontation implies attack and hostility, at least to some degree, and those are rarely useful.

The pathological, however, as with most of the antipatterns, are outside the scope of your ability or responsibility as a facilitator or coworker or friend to deal with. Please be careful in these circumstances. It’s not your job to deal with pathologies – issues that are deep and tightly held.

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