Rules for Cluebat

I’m currently engaged in a game of Cluebat. This is never a pleasant experience, and the responses I’m seeing have made me realize that there’s not a lot of understanding of what the cluebatting process really looks like in the real world. So I’ve decided to write up some Rules for Cluebat.

So what is Cluebat?

Well, we’ve all had that experience where we (or someone else) does something that is very problematic simply because we don’t know any better. We did it because we’re clueless, not because will ill-natured or out to offend. That doesn’t, however, make whatever we’ve done OK. So someone has to pull us aside and educate us – give us a clue.

Unfortunately, most of us don’t like to be told that we’ve done something that hurt someone. (And if we do, we really should be isolated from the rest of society.) So this process is uncomfortable. It hurts. It’s like getting hit over the head with a bat.

Hence: Cluebat.

Now, Cluebat isn’t typically pleasant for the person delivering the clue, either. Generally, we don’t go around cluebatting for fun. (And if we do, we probably should also be isolated from the rest of society.) Typically, we swing the cluebat in a kneejerk manner because we’re personally hurt and offended, or only after very careful consideration knowing that we’re not going to like the feeling that comes from hitting someone over the head with a proverbial bat.

So what are the rules? Well, here goes:

  1. Ideally, Cluebat should be played by people who know each other well and have a measure of trust.
  2. Cluebat hurts. Always remember that both people playing are going to be in pain. Give them space and recovery time.
  3. The initial response to being cluebatted closely resembles the grieving process. Typically a person will first deny that they have done anything offensive. This is normal, because that which we do not intend to do and don’t perceive as having happened, in our mind, did not happen. Then they will typically become very, very defensive and often lash out. They will often say some very unkind things in this stage. They will typically then, under the guise of “trying to understand,” attempt to negotiate down the real harm of what they have said or done. There is then usually a period of depression and feeling like they’re the worst human being in the world. While all these behaviors are problematic, they are perfectly normal and none of them are a sign that the individual will not emerge on the other side a better person.
  4. Related to Rule 2, anyone being cluebatted who does not respond this way is an advanced cluebatter who has learned to check those responses. They’re still happening. Give them the emotional space to work through it, and continue to be supportive.
  5. If you are being cluebatted, remember that the person cluebatting you is likely very, very angry, even if they are not showing it. You probably know them well enough to know how to behave when they’re angry. On the rare occasions when you’re being cluebatted by a stranger, the best response is, “Thank you. I was thoughtless. I appreciate that you called me out.” Yes, this is unnatural.
  6. Whether you are the cluebatter or the cluebattee, be supportive of the other person.
  7. When witnessing a game of cluebat, resist the urge to cheer.
  8. NEVER dogpile in cluebat. Cluebat works best one-on-one, though a particularly resistant cluebattee may require a substitute batter.
  9. If you are a cluebat witness and asked to participate, proceed with caution. Often, the best response is, “I’m learning from this, too.” If you must step in, remember to tag out the original participant so cluebat remains one-on-one.
  10. The goal of Cluebat is personal growth, not winning. When personal growth occurs, both players win. When it does not, both players lose.
  11. Always check up on your Cluebat partners afterwards to ensure that they are well. Many – both cluebatter and cluebattee – have a difficult time emerging from the depressive stage.
  12. Forgive. Nobody plays cluebat unless they care.


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