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There are 4 roles we play in our conversations. Which one are you?

In our conversations, we naturally tend to take a role.

Families are filled with different people, with different personalities and opinions. It’s what makes family life fun and challenging.

Studio 5 Relationship Contributor Dr. Matt Townsend says if you understand the players, you’ll feel better about the game. He believes there are four basic roles we all play naturally or intuitively in our interactions and our conversations.

Find more advice from Matt at


The 4 Roles We Can Take in Our Converstions

Movers– Initiate action or starting point of interactions, ideas, agenda’s and focus the conversation.

  • The propose the plans, they drive the agenda and create the starting point which others tend to either support or react to.
  • Movers create the concentration of the conversation. They pick the topics, the timing and the focus of the conversation.
  • A Mover’s Intention:

o Direction, Discipline, Commitment, Perfection and Clarity

  • How A Mover Comes Across at Times:

o Omnipotent, Impatient, Indecisive, Scattered, Dictatorial

  • Examples of What Mover’s Might Say

Tennis: “We should go to play tennis and then go get lunch in Laiea.”

Go for a walk: “Who wants to go with me on a walk right now?”

Get busy! “Why are we all just sitting around? We’re in Hawaii and your laziness is killing me…let’s do something fun!”

Phones are a waste: “Put your stupid phones down and look at these views!”


Follower– The Follower is seen to do nothing other than to follow the lead of the Mover by quickly agreeing, complying, or getting on board with their idea.

  • The follower seems to agree, accept, and comply with the Mover’s ideas and in so doing, is brought into syncope and closeness with the mover.
  • In effect the Follower is providing support, energy, camaraderie for the mover’s idea.
  • A Follower’s Intention:

o Completion, Compassion, Loyalty, Service, Continuity, Peace

  • How a Follower Comes Across at Times:

o Placating, Indecisive, Pliant, Wishy-Washy, Over Accommodating, Pleasers

Play Tennis: “I’m tired but maybe that will change when we get to the courts.”

Go for a walk: “I do!”

Get Busy! “Ok (Stands up) and starts moving toward the door.”

Phones are a Waste: (Immediately puts their phone down and looks at the views).


Opposer– The Challenger or opposer is the one who challenges the idea of the mover and begins to propose their own ideas contrary to the mover’s.

  • The Opposer may see the obvious problems with the Mover’s and Follower’s approach.
  • The Opposer proposes an alternative idea or approach the initial idea at hand.
  • The Opposer’s view can be done with a variety of different tones, offensive words, with respect or not.
  • An Opposer’s Intention:

o Courage, Integrity, Correction, Protection, Survival

  • How an Opposer Comes Across at Times:

o Critical, complaining, blaming, attacking, contrary

Tennis: “No we should eat lunch first and then go to the beach.”

Go for a walk: “Who wants to go on a walk right now?”

Get busy!: “This is a vacation and we don’t need to be busy every minute to feel like we’re getting our money’s worth. Why don’t you try to learn how to relax on this trip?”

Phones are a waste: “Back off! We can be on our phones if we want to.”


Bystander– Is a neutral bystander who because they’ve spent time listening can now see and hear both sides of the argument. They can also see valuable information that isn’t being discussed or brought up and that needs to be heard to make the interaction more whole and healthier.

  • The bystander is the one who has been watching the entire conversation and has heard the mover’s position, the follower’s easy acceptance and the opposer’s point of view. This role is the place of
  • Bystanders provide insight, perspective and additional information that might be helpful to
  • Bystanders maintain a neutral informative stance. This neutrality enables others to be influenced without having to feel like they’re being attacked
  • A Bystanders’s Intention:

o Perspective, Patience, Preservation, Moderation, Self-Reflection

  • How A Bystander Comes Across at Times:

o Disengaged, Judgmental, Deserting, Withdrawn, Silent

Tennis: Sounds like we have a lot of options to choose from. Because the kids haven’t eaten, we probably ought to get food first and then we can hear from everyone about what they want to do for the rest of the day and maybe we could plan the rest of the week a little as well.”

Go for a walk: “It looks like everyone is tired after the morning at the beach. I sure wish I had the energy you did to go for a walk right now.”

Get busy!: “Let’s all remember that a vacation is different for every one of us, some don’t want to waste a minute and some want time to just chill. They’re all good, choices and we don’t need to feel like everyone has to do what we want to do, when we want to do.”

Phones are a waste: “It’s important to remember that many have to be working their phones and messages back home so they can actually relax on this trip.

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