• Yehudit Zicklin-Sidikman

Embrace Your Inner Parrot

While we’re on the topic of our favorite boundary-setting techniques....


The parrot technique (sometimes called the broken record technique) is one of mine.


And who better to demonstrate than an actual parrot?


What do you notice about how this annoyed parrot is setting a boundary with the barking dog? Do you think it's working?


As you probably gathered, the parrot technique involves saying the same thing, or a variation of the same thing, over and over again

As you probably gathered, the parrot technique involves saying the same thing, or a variation of the same thing, over and over again.


For example:

When Polly wants a cracker, she says it over and over again. There’s no discussion. No debate. No explaining why she wants a cracker.


Try telling her she already had a cracker, or that there are no crackers left, or that she’ll have a cracker in an hour.


All Polly will do is remind you that she wants a cracker.


All Polly will do is remind you that she wants a cracker.

Eventually, you’ll run out of arguments, and chances are, Polly will get that cracker.


The same applies when it comes to defending yourself. One of the most effective ways to deescalate a situation is to not indulge somebody’s wish for a confrontation.


Think about what you want, and state it over and over again until you get what you want.


For example:


— “Please, don’t touch me. Don’t touch me. Do. Not. Touch. Me.”⠀

⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

— “Go away. Go away. Go. Away.”


— “Stop. Stop. I said, ‘STOP!’”


Enough said. Keep your message simple and clear. The lack of explanation or elaboration will cut off the fuel supply to an argument, making it more likely that you’ll get the results you want.


And yes, this can be used as a tactic to breakdown someone’s boundary setting too. Like any “tool,” it can be good or for bad.


My favorite line about this, though, is something that Martha Thompson of IMPACT Chicago said way back when I first started learning to teach IMPACT:


“Just because you become more creative with your demand, it doesn’t mean that they will get smarter. Keep it simple and keep it clear.”

“Just because you become more creative with your demand, it doesn’t mean that they will get smarter. Keep it simple and keep it clear.”


“Leave me alone!" Lather. Rinse. And repeat as necessary.


Have you ever used the parrot technique? Tell us about your experience!