COVERT HOSTILITY (1.1)
by Ruth Minshull
[Chapter 9: How To Choose Your People]
Covert: 1) Covered or covered over; sheltered. 2) concealed; hidden; secret. Hostile: 1) Of or pertaining to an enemy. 2) feeling or showing enmity; antagonistic.—American Heritage Dictionary
The main difficulty with a 1.1 is that he doesn’t wear a neon sign telling you he’s a 1.1.
It’s a cover-up tone—the most difficult one on the scale to recognize. After you do spot one, don’t expect the next 1.1 you meet to bear much resemblance.
HIS MANY DISGUISES
He may be that hearty buffoon, “the life of the party.” She’s the inconspicuous little old maid down the street who never forgets your birthday. He could be the jovial, back-slapping salesman. The smooth con man. The witty, entertaining gossip columnist. The swaggering office Don Juan. She might be the smiling lady next door who knows all the delicious little stories about the neighbors. He’s the lover who is gay and tenderly passionate one minute and disdainfully sarcastic the next. He’s the clever imposter who passed himself off as a surgeon for fifteen years. He’s the gentle-mannered homosexual. Or that pleasant young man who “never said an unkind word to anyone” but was just convicted of seven hideous sex crimes. Or that newspaper reporter who appeared so friendly until his story (full of slimy innuendos) was in print. And here’s where we find that nice bank president who embezzled $100,000 and skipped off to Brazil with the belly dancer. He could be the sensitive poet, the suave millionaire or the charming vagrant who lives by his wits and hasn’t done a day’s work in twenty years.
Wherever he turns up, he’ll be in disguise. If you’re generous in character, you may be tempted to treat him leniently.
At 1.1 we find the emotion Ron Hubbard has described as “the most dangerous and wicked level on the tone scale.” (Science of Survival)
He’s halfway between Fear (which motivates his tone) and Anger (which he must conceal). His emotion dictates that he smile and put up a good front at all times since he “knows” he mustn’t ever become angry. At this position we find flagrant lying in order to avoid real communication. Such lying may be in the form of pretended agreement (“what a marvelous idea”), flattery (“that’s a darling dress, my dear”) or appeasement (“now don’t worry; I’ll take care of everything”).
The 1.1 constructs a false facade, an artificial personality. He’s the cheerful hypocrite.
AS A FRIEND
You wont need enemies. You’d be better off as a recluse. Don’t trust him with your money, your reputation or your wife. He’s a person who hates but is unable to say he hates. He deals in treachery and expects to be forgiven. He’ll tell you he stood up for you when he actually did his best to destroy your reputation. He’ll flatter you quite insincerely while he waits for his moment to do you in. And he’ll find more ways of doing you in than I can possibly catalog in one chapter.
The 1.1 expects special privileges or exemptions, He’ll be the one most likely to assume that he can break the rules—of a marriage, a company, a group or society.
We often like the 1.1 at first because he pretends to be so high-tone. But eventually (unless we’re in Sympathy) we grow to despise him. Our loathing, however, is sometimes hard to explain because we can seldom pin down exactly what this doll is doing that’s so despicable.
While he’s arrogant, he’s such an accomplished actor that we may be deceived by his put-on of humility. Having command of all the tones below his, he uses them without conscience to convince us he’s harmless and means well. In this way, he manipulates people, always seeking hidden control. He may weep, plead, propitiate or sympathize; he may pose contempt or disdain. But through all the histrionics he is trying to nullify others to get them to the level where they can be used.
If you get mad at him, he usually drops to Propitiation (goes out of his way to do things for you or brings you gifts) or Grief (“I didn’t mean any harm . . . “) in order to worm his way back into your confidence. Count on him to know your soft spots and to play on them with consummate skill.
Here’s a fast way to peg a 1.1: he seeks to introvert you. This generally occurs in the first few seconds of meeting him. He’ll say, “You’ve gained some weight, haven’t you?” or “I can’t figure out why you look so different . . . ” On the phone, he may open the conversation with: “Your voice sounds funny; do you have a cold?” Under the guise of friendly concern, these remarks are meant to push your attention into yourself (and away from him). Soon you’ll be explaining yourself or worrying: “What’s the matter with me?”
On meeting, the 1.1 nearly always tries to speak first in order to grasp control of the conversation. If he gets his own darts in first, there is less chance for something to be thrown at him. I once introduced two 1.1 men to each other. As I did so, I wondered who would win the inevitable rush to get in the first word. Well, they both started talking at once, and they kept talking for at least a full minute, neither hearing a single word said by the other. They were well-matched.
Covert Hostility fills his conversation with small barbs, thinly veiled as compliments (“this cake is delicious, almost as good as anything you could buy in a store”). It’s a 1.1 who uttered the classic put-down: “That’s such a lovely dress you’re wearing. I’ve admired it for years.”
He feels a continual nervous necessity to reject almost any remark. If you’re trying to make a sincere statement or present an upscale idea, he’ll query it, “I see what you mean, but. . .” He’ll helpfully correct your pronunciation and word choices (he’s the semantic fanatic), start picking lint off your shoulder, or interject a joke at your expense (usually with puns; he loves them). He uses any conceivable method of cutting your communication to ribbons. Of course (ha ha) he didn’t mean any harm. Just being friendly.
He lies when there’s no reason to lie. Facts are confused, twisted or hidden, while he noisily advertises his honesty, ethics and virtue. He may be giving you his “sacred word” while he wields his automatic knife-in-the-back trickery.
If you challenge his lies, he’ll probably tell you he was being “subtle.”
The high-tone person might play the role of spy and do it well (although he does not enjoy subterfuge). The 1.1, however, is a natural spy. If you want to make this fellow come to life, present him with an inviting situation that requires guile, cunning, deviousness or perversion. Give him a justification for window peeping, eavesdropping, snooping or secret investigating and he’s fully aware.
When there’s a straight course for doing something, the 1.1 won’t use it; it doesn’t occur to him. He’ll think of a devious method for doing the same thing. I once worked in an office where the 1.1 office manager forbade dumping ashtrays in the wastebaskets. I assumed this rule was motivated by fastidiousness (or a conscience about fire prevention) until I learned that every night he searched through all the wastebaskets before they were emptied (even piecing together torn bits of paper), so he could find out what was “really going on” in the office. He relished discovering some juicy secret in this manner. Of course, the word got around, so the staff started amusing themselves by planting all sorts of wild, fictitious scraps of “evidence” in with the discards.
Although 1.1 conceals his own motives and activities, he is strongly compelled to reveal secrets of others. This is the tone of the traitor and the subversive. Having no regard for privacy, he thrives on the chance to expose people (this is even more prevalent in the next tone: No Sympathy). The Covert Hostility who is having a “secret” love affair will do his best to see that evidence is left around so that people find out, especially where this creates trouble for his partner.
He’s a genius at extracting information from others. Several years ago I worked for a company on some secret research. Only three of us knew the nature of the project and none of us was an indiscriminate talker. Therefore, I was surprised one day, lunching with the switchboard operator, when she casually said, “Well, I understand you found . . . ” She was so nearly right that it was hard to believe she was only guessing. I denied any knowledge of the subject, so she said, “Oh, come on, don’t kid me. Everyone knows what you’re working on.” I realized later that she must have listened in on phone conversations for part of her information; the rest was conjecture.
Even the speculations of a 1.1 are done with a blatant pretense that he knows all; this way he frequently lures his unsuspecting victim into telling too much.
THE MYSTERY TECHNIQUE
The 1.1 not only enjoys probing a mystery, he likes to create one. He can even use a knowing, enigmatic smile as a put-down. I once saw a 1.1 looking over the manuscript prepared by a friend of mine, while my friend eagerly awaited comments. When he finished, the 1.1 merely smiled slyly and said, “I’m reserving judgment on it. I’ll be thinking it over.”
This was an insidious blow to the author’s pride, but he recovered when I indicated the tone level of his would-be critic. A clever and vicious way to entrap a creative person—pin his attention in a mystery.
Implying hidden knowledge is a common device of the gossip. A person of higher tone may pass on news of mutual friends, but he tries to stay with facts. The 1.1, however, embellishes the facts with additives which sound true. “You know Joe and Phyllis are splitting up?” That may be a fact. But Mabel (the 1.1) will add: “Just between you and me, it wouldn’t surprise me to hear that she was running around with Bill on the sly.”
Her knowing manner suggests that she’s certain of more facts than she’s telling.
The chronic gossip who enjoys shredding a reputation with half-truths, suppositions and speculations is a 1.1. You may meet her draped over the backyard fence; you’ll find him leaning on the office water cooler. It’s often the tone of the reporter, interviewer and talk show m.c.—the one who uses his charm to gain the confidence of the interviewee before he slices him up.
It requires stoic discipline to resist the sly questioning techniques of the 1.1.
Many years ago I moved into a flat and purchased the furniture of the former tenants. A short time later, the upstairs neighbour dropped in. “I see you bought their furniture,” she said.
I nodded and changed the subject. A few minutes later she brought the conversation back to the furniture: “I understand they were asking fifteen hundred dollars for it . . .
The statement hung in the air like a question, creating a perfect opportunity for me to correct or confirm her statement. Having met her kind before, however, I decided to out 1.1 her, so I simply murmured, “Really?” and changed the subject.
The 1.1 will jeopardize a business. He cunningly infects an entire office, turning people against each other and all of them against the company. He’s so covert that he’s nearly invisible as the source of bad news and general frustration in the environment.
Although he can do a job, and usually manages to appear hardworking, it’s often a bluff. Unable to tolerate being the effect of anyone, he evades by covert means. Ask him to do a job and he says, “Sure, I’ll be glad to do it,” but it never gets done. He pretends to take orders; but there’s no intention to follow through.
Covert Hostility is not responsible but he pretends to be. I went to a charming modern wedding out on the West Coast where there were no ushers. A 1.1 relative of the groom took it upon herself to stand at the door telling incoming guests: “Since apparently there aren’t to be any ushers, I guess you’ll just have to find your own seat.”
Speaking with acid emphasis, she appeared to be assuming responsibility; but her intent was destructive. Clearly, she wanted to make certain the guests knew this wedding was “improperly planned.” If a high-tone person noticed that arriving guests were confused (and I don’t think they were in this case), he might say, “Just take a seat wherever you like.” No vicious implications.
The 1.1 is so preoccupied with making an impression on people, his need for recognition puts him on stage all of the time. Never relaxing, he’s an actor, constantly studying his audience to see if everyone is impressed. It’s difficult for a 1.1 to be an audience for long.
In the classroom, he’s often the first person to pose a question after the lecture (he’ll interrupt if permitted):
“Professor, don’t you think. . .” He’s not interested in getting an answer; he merely wants to establish his brilliance. The question is posed for its effect.
Many 1.ls want attention so much they’re immune to embarrassment. I once knew one who dressed in the most outlandish clothes imaginable. He drifted around looking like a psychedelic bad trip and frequently bragged: “Everybody noticed me.” This same person relished any opportunity to make remarks designed to shock everyone in the room. There are other 1.1s, incidentally, who dress and speak most conservatively.
When he can’t get into the limelight himself, he fastens onto creative, successful people and works unceasingly to knock them downscale. We find 1.1s clustered around the perimeter of show business. He is often the nonperforming critic who seeks hidden control over some area of aesthetics so he can tell the talented person viciously destructive things “for your own good.”
When he fails to get close to the winners, he brags that he is anyway. He knows the big movie stars. The President asks his advice. He pretends he’s having love affairs with the most beautiful women.
Because of a strong compulsion to play the big shot, the 1.1 often connives his way to the higher echelons of business, politics, clubs or social groups. He’s a short-cutter, however, with such idle persistence that he’s rarely proficient in any line. Instead, he learns only enough to fake his way to an influential spot. He wants the applause without ever learning to dance.
He’s the dilettante who dabbles in music and gives it up. He studies painting for a month and loses interest. Too flighty to concentrate on a subject long enough to become accomplished, he prefers to make a cursory study after which he uses guile and chicanery to pass himself off as an expert.
All criminals fall below 2.0 on the scale (as long as they are still criminals) and a great many of them are 1.1s. Even when a Covert Hostility person is not actively breaking the law, he is unethical and dishonest.
He has a tendency toward suicidal actions; but he is actively seeking the death of his entire environment (“I guess I’ll succumb but maybe I’ll take you with me”). Here we have murder by slow erosion of individuals and culture, each harmful action slyly masked with lengthy reasoning. Here we find the people who most promote (and most enjoy) pornography. Here is the silky pimp who talks the young girl into becoming a prostitute. Here is the cagey pusher who convinces teenagers that they should “get with it,” and that drugs are harmless anyway.
RELAY OF COMMUNICATION
He prefers to relay only the most malicious communication. Good news is quickly forgotten or deliberately suppressed. If you send a special bargain notice to a customer and there’s a 1.1 opening the mail, he’ll see that the notice never gets to the buyer in time. Covert Hostility people frequently position themselves where they can control incoming communications. This not only gratifies their snooping instincts, it permits hidden control.
One morning I observed a 1.1 handling a small business establishment for the absent owner. It was a busy day with customers, orders and inquiries constantly flowing in. An irate workman called; a foreman was not on the job and couldn’t be located. A few minutes later the owner phoned in. “Oh boy,” our dream girl reported with relish, “things are really a mess around here today . . .
She dwelled lengthily on the one “trouble” call, completely neglecting to mention all the good news and normal business.
SENSE OF HUMOR
He enjoys no real sense of humor, but at this tone we most often hear the compulsive laughter that burbles out when there is nothing at all amusing. We may be discussing the weather or the ball scores and the 1.1 will titter or chuckle meaninglessly. He laughs at a joke—probably longer than everyone else—but it’s not really funny to him. Nothing is.
I’ve known many 1.1s who were not practical jokers; but I’ve never known a practical joker who wasn’t a 1.1. They delight in making elaborate, secret preparations designed to fool, embarrass, expose, belittle or humiliate the victim. All in fun, of course.
The manager of a local insurance company told me of a time, early in his career, when he was transferred to an office in another state. Apparently some ethnic conviction caused people in that particular area to shun life insurance policies, although they would happily buy annuities. Unaware of this, our man spent two frustrating weeks trying to sell life insurance; but he failed completely. Bewildered and depressed, he described his experiences to the men in the office. Finally, they disclosed the secret of selling in that city. Permitting him to lose for awhile was part of the “initiation” for a new man. Although my friend failed to appreciate the joke, the 1.1 boys in the office considered it hilarious.
He acts amazed when you don’t laugh at his sly capers. If you get annoyed, he expects you to forgive his peccadilloes.
You could write a whole book on the sexual characteristics of the 1.1 (and many people have). Some of them are strait-laced to the point of prudishness and blatantly insist on morals for others. But also at this level we most frequently find promiscuity, perversion, sadism and every irregular practice. Strangely, the 1.1 doesn’t actually enjoy the sex act itself, but is hectically anxious about it. He’ll be the strong advocate of “free love.”
The excessively promiscuous person is nearly always a 1.1. His lack of persistence shows up in the inability to enjoy a long-term, meaningful relationship with one individual. He constantly seeks sexual pleasure through the new and different.
Such people are dangerous to a society because their kinky behaviour is contagious. Free love and promiscuity are danger signals which should be heeded if a race is to go forward. Such activities indicate a covert reversal of the sanctity of love and marriage. There are now so many publications devoted exclusively to advocating, encouraging and glamorizing promiscuity, that the upscale person may feel out-numbered. He begins to question his natural instinct for fidelity and constancy and wonders if he’s old-fashioned.
Today’s frank confrontation of problems related to abortion, birth control and enlightened sexual adjustment is much saner than the Victorian priggishness that clouded such issues for many years. However, harbingers of the “liberated age” (usually the 1.ls of the press and periodicals) would have us believe that this means anything goes. With glib irresponsibility, they report on man’s most debased activities and ignore the possibility that their own choice of “news” will be a corroding influence.
The 1.1 can be the sweetest-talking lover on the tone scale, but as a long-term partner, he’s most harmful. Very likely he’ll cheat and/or insidiously undermine his spouse’s confidence with all manner of subterfuge. He won’t be satisfied until his partner is reduced to Apathy and all dreams are gone.