Communication Tip:

Originally written by Kerry for tutorial reference material, rewritten for Communication Weekly (no longer online).

Perpetration—a communication variable


In communication coaching a perpetration refers to something you have done or not done that you don't feel good about or that you judge to be bad—usually it's something you've hidden from yourself or others. Most perpetrations between couples are about deceits, withholds, or broken verbal/implied agreements, and usually have nothing to do with legality. There is usually guilt attached. Anger/humor is often used to hide the "big" perpetration. i.e. Spouse: "Where were you?" Partner: "Christ, you're always accusing me . . ." Or. "I was feeding the elephants, (humor), what's for dinner? (distraction)"


A communication variable is something that serves as a barrier to communication, something that affects outcomes.* Often it's a thought that's been rattling around in your mind; at other times the perpetration has been "forgotten" (the mind hides the incident from itself) and is not recallable without support. Such thoughts occupy space, they get in the way of the desired result, of clarity of creativity, (withholds sap ones awareness, ones consciousness). Often a perpetration is a thought you have been withholding or hiding from someone you love, for whom you have professed respect. It may or may not be thought of as being "bad" by another. The fact that the thought, to share it or not, exists proves that it is an incomplete. An incomplete creates a condition of out-integrity. When one is in-integrity there is an experience of wholeness and of being complete, there is no mind-chatter about sharing or not sharing, justifying or rationalizing.

For example: A friend of mine once stood for a half hour, in front of 30 friends at a weekend-long Advanced Communication Workshop, hemming and hawing about this terrible thing he had been hiding from us. His anguish was evident and such that we thought the worst. So terrible and obvious was his guilt and embarrassment that we thought perhaps he had committed some felony. He was however determined to get it out of his system and to come clean with his friends. Finally, with a burst of tears and grief, he said, "I eat candy bars." Everyone inappropriately broke into laughter. Without words we were communicating, "You mean that's what we've been waiting for, that's your perpetration?" Yes! To him and his experience of integrity it was. It did shock us because he had been presenting himself as junk-food-free and not without righteousness either. He's been considerably more compassionate since then.

Non-verbalized withheld perpetrations serve as barriers to the experience of communication and love. i.e. Students have a harder time getting the subject matter being presented when they have an unacknowledged perpetration floating around in their mind, ergo, the importance of clearing children at bedtime.**

Examples of perpetrations:
Perhaps you feel badly for having stolen something and you've hid the incident from everyone. More accurately, immediately afterwards, you felt guilty, but you piled more interactions on top of it, so many that the incident has been covered up, forgotten. That incomplete has been stored and hidden in the back of the mind—affecting all outcomes to this very day. The mind believes that it got away with it, that there were no negative consequences.

Perhaps you never told anyone that you cheated on an exam.

If you yelled at your child during breakfast (and if the abuse was not verbally acknowledged to the child as abusive (if the interaction wasn't cleaned up through to hugging) the child can't totally be with a teacher's content.

Quite possibly you led everyone to believe that you were an honest person yet you know you were involved in deceptions.

Perhaps you lied to a classmate, your spouse, or your boss. The biggies for many are the "forgotten" lies, omissions, exaggerations, and purposeful blank spaces on one or more school/tax/insurance or job application forms. Your resume may contain inaccuracies.

You may have deceived someone—searching for a new job on company time without telling your boss, personal use of the company's PC, holding on to a relationship while searching for another, not telling a new date about your history of abuse, or, the biggie—not telling a new date about your dysfunctional family.

Perhaps you have allowed your child to entertain (for more than a few minutes) the possibility that he/she is the cause of the abusive friction between you and your spouse. No matter the words, no matter how sincere you may sound, as you try to convince your child that they are not the cause for the fights; the child intuits that if he/she were truly a loving inspiring person you two wouldn't be abusing each other

If you have never verbally acknowledged to your spouse (in front of your child) that you know you communicated abusively to your spouse, then you have failed to model how to clean up an abusive communication.

Quite possibly you now know that you sabotaged the success of your penmanship, health/nutrition, or other teachers.

Examples for men:
Possibly you conned a girl into deceiving both sets of parents so she'd have sex with you.

Perhaps you now feel badly for treating girls with condescension, as though they weren't capable of paying their own way.

Perhaps you feel badly for having talked (pressured/conned/manipulated) a girl into having sex, knowing full well she had said no.

Possibly you thwarted a friend's intimate relationship for selfish/covetous reasons.

Possibly you seduced a woman who was not yet divorced.

Possibly you were searching for a new partner while still married—and, hid the fact from your partner.
Examples for women:
Perhaps you feel badly knowing that you ran a con on most boys, possibly some teachers.

Maybe you told your parents that you were going to the library and have yet to acknowledge that lie to them, not realizing it's still having an effect. Most always one sets up life to have another deceive them so as to be acknowledged (caught) for their original (first) deception.

Possibly you set it up for a boy to beg for sex; your first "no" was in fact a lie, a tease.

You may feel badly for having decided to not apply yourself in school, instead falling back on convention—to con someone into marrying-supporting you—rather than have a career.

Possibly your high school clique excluded others in a hurtful way.

Possibly you seduced a man who was not yet divorced.

You may have silently condoned the badmouthing of another.

Examples for parents:

    Perhaps you have sent your child to school without ensuring that they did their homework—thereby abusively thwarting the person you pay to teach.

    Most likely you have verbally abused your partner and have not acknowledged the abuse in front of your child. —thereby demonstrating how to responsibly communicate/complete an abuse.

    Quite possibly you have mislead your child into thinking you were much better behaved as a child, thereby leading him/her to think it's impossible to be as good as they believe their parents were. In other words, you have deceptively hid your childhood perpetrations from your child.

The major life-time negative effects of a perpetration are not just that you did it, but that you have hid it—from yourself, some specific person, or from everyone. You are in fact walking around with no one knowing the real you. That's OK. Most everyone with whom you relate is hiding his/her item of choice from you; they too have become their "honest act." The result is, your act is relating with everyone else's acts. I say "relating with" instead of "communicating with" because in truth, there is no experience of communication when there are withholds (deceits) in a relationship; such interactions are referred to as talking (that which most married couples become stuck doing, evidenced by fewer or no more experiences of joy and giggly happiness).

Note: If you are withholding a significant thought from your partner it's absolutely certain he/she is withholding one from you. Withholders attract withholders—there are no exceptions to this entanglement phenomenon. It's virtually impossible to withhold a thought in a relationship in which the agreement is, ". . . to communicate openly, honestly, and spontaneously—zero significant withholds." In such a relationship a thought withheld becomes as a mote in thine eye; in other words, you lose your ability to see, hear, experience another's lie. For example: You're so unconscious that when you tell your child to do their homework you can't tell that they have no intention of recreating your communication, and, you abusively blame your child because communication didn't take place.

Arrogance is thinking you can have and maintain the experience of love, health, and prosperity without cleaning up (acknowledging) life's perpetrations; arrogance always begs to be humbled.

* If you and your loved one have not experienced joyous laughter today then you both are withholding the exact same number of thoughts from each other. Again, there are no exceptions to this phenomenon.

** The free clearing processes—for individuals, professionals, couples, and parents with children are supportive of restoring/maintaining ones integrity—specifically, acknowledging (completing) life's perpetrations.

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