Thursday, June 30, 2011

What's Your Goal?


There are usually three goals to consider with HCPs: 

  1. To manage the relationship, such as when you work with the person, when this person is your daughter, etc. In other words, when the relationship is important to you OR you have no way to get out of it.
  2. To reduce the relationship to a less intense level, such as with a friend, neighbor, or even a family member.
  3. To end the relationship, usually by phasing the person slowly out of your life.

How you respond will make a big difference to the HCP. If you inadvertently give him negative feedback, you will increase the intensity of his interactions with you, as HCPs can’t handle negative feedback. It’s better to use BIFFs and avoid talking about the past. Even if you are in a committed relationship or a position of authority and explaining your concerns about the past is necessary, it helps to put the emphasis on the desired future behavior – although you may have to acknowledge the past or address it officially. Just keep the focus on the future as much as possible.
If you are too rejecting, such as attempting to suddenly end the relationship, the HCP will increase her interactions with you and the intensity of her emotions with you – usually to try to talk you out of ending the relationship or to punish you for ending it. For this reason, I recommend “phasing out” relationships with HCPs, if you plan to end them, as they need more time to process and accept change. Otherwise, when endings are too abrupt, they may try to hold on to you by stalking you, harassing you, or suing you in an attempt to keep contact going in some manner, even if it’s negative.
In many cases, people choose to reduce, but continue, their relationships with HCPs at a less intense level. This way they maintain the positive aspects – such as a shared interest – while avoiding the most negative aspects. Many employers are encouraged to take this approach, because their HCP employees are sometimes making important contributions to the organization – even though they do not have good conflict resolution skills.
Whichever goal you have, keep it in mind when interacting (or avoiding interacting) with an HCP and giving a BIFF response. Ask yourself: Will my response engage the other person more in my life? Or allow him to back off without defensiveness. Defensiveness is the key word in explaining the HCP model. Throughout the examples in this book, you will see that the main effort is to avoid triggering HCP defensiveness, while also accomplishing your goal.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Left Brain and Right Brain Conflict Resolution

Our brains are mostly divided into two hemispheres. They each have their own way of responding to conflicts, although there is some overlap. Our brains are really a combination of parts that serve different purposes. They take turns in dominating our thinking at times and generally work together – just as we have many muscles in our arms that work together rather than just one muscle.
Our brains are very flexible and the location of brain activity for different purposes varies somewhat person to person. My comments about the brain throughout this book are based on reading research, attending seminars, and seeing what works in the practice of conflict resolution. I’m not a neuroscientist, so this book is meant to be practical and general, rather than scientifically exact.  
The two response methods in our brains for responding to conflict generally operate as follows:
1. Fast defensive reacting, which appears primarily associated with the right hemisphere of our brains (the “right brain”). This brain can respond in just a few thousandths of a second, to get us out of a bad situation before we even start to “think” about it. It’s probably saved your life many times (almost falling off a cliff, escaping a bully, a run-away car, a flood, etc.), especially when you were a young child.
It’s an action-oriented response, so it doesn’t have time or energy for analyzing situations. In fact, when upset enough, the amygdala in the right brain shuts down our logical thinking. It focuses on a fight, flight or freeze response, that sees people and situations in all-or-nothing terms, that jumps to conclusions and is driven by intense emotional energy (especially the energy of fear and anger). The amygdala acts like a smoke alarm – it gets all of your attention and doesn’t leave room for slowly thinking things through. 
2. Logical problem-solving, which appears primarily associated with the left hemisphere of our brains (the “left brain”). This brain is much more accurate in analyzing problems – when there’s time and it isn’t shut off by the right brain’s amygdala. This brain can look into the past objectively and compare the present situation in depth, to see how similar and how different it is.
The left hemisphere is more logical and careful. This hemisphere can take the time to plan logical responses to a situation and consider the distant future consequences, which the right hemisphere doesn’t have time for in a crisis or life-  threatening conflict. While intense and negative emotions are mostly processed in the right brain, the left brain tends to be the location of feelings of calmness, contentment and safety – which helps you concentrate on problem-solving.  
While these two “brains” generally work together well, one is usually in charge. Which brain will dominate is generally affected by what is going on at the moment – what is happening around us. Most of the time, the left brain is dominant. But when a situation feels threatening enough or totally new, the right brain becomes dominant. Once a crisis passes or we have learned how to deal with the new situation, then we return to the left brain being dominant.
As children grow up and become adults, they become more able to tell the difference between a crisis and a minor disagreement or problem. This comes from millions of experiences, as neurons are constantly growing connections in our brains, associating problems in life to our successful strategies for solving similar problems in the past. Much of this wisdom seems to be stored in the left hemisphere of the brain.
Talking to the “Right” Brain
Blamespeak, in particular, seems to trigger our right brain response to crisis or conflict, which stops our logical thinking and makes us agitated to get ready for action. This makes sense, because Blamespeak is a personal attack, even if it’s just a verbal attack. When exposed to the intensity that high-conflict people use in their Blamespeak, we get emotionally hooked (the right amygdala gets triggered) into defending ourselves. But logically there’s no need to defend yourself, because “it’s not about you.” You don’t have to prove anything. But emotionally it’s hard (but possible) to override personal attacks.
We have to train ourselves to remember during a high-conflict moment that it’s about the HCP’s inability to manage his or her own emotions and behavior, so we can switch ourselves back to our logical problem-solving left brains. There’s often no action we need to take at all. Of course, you may need to take action to protect yourself if there is a physical or legal threat. But you don’t need to defend your own actions or prove who you are as a person.  
To learn more about dealing with high conflict people and situations, Bill Eddy, High Conflict Institute seminars and training, or to order BIFF or other books, please visit www.highconflictinstitute.com

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

BIFF Now Has it's own Facebook Page

Find BIFF on Facebook: facebook/BIFFQuickResponses
Please take a few minutes to "Like" our page!

Learn what a BIFF Is
This book helps you respond to High-Conflict People - or anyone - who engages you with hostile emails, vicious rumors or just plain difficult behavior. Learn how to keep it Brief, Informative, Friendly & Firm.

It’s Not About You!
Such personal attacks are not about you. Personal attacks are about the inability of the other person to manage their own emotions and behavior, and their inability to solve problems.
I call such people “high-conflict people” (HCPs), because they lack skills for dealing with conflict. Instead of sharing responsibility for solving problems, they increase conflict by making it intensely personal. They are the most difficult people, because they repeatedly focus on what I call a “target of blame” possibly you! They speak Blamespeak. Attack, defend, and attack again.

I wrote this book to help you respond to HCPs – or anyone – who engages you with hostile emails, vicious rumors or just plain difficult behavior. But before I explain how to write a BIFF Response, I want to give you a brief understanding about high-conflict people (HCPs). To deal with them successfully requires a shift in how you think about them, so that you know what not to do, as well as what to do.

When to Respond with a BIFF? In general, it’s best to respond quickly. Here's why...

HCPs tend to believe that you agree with their opinions of you unless you quickly disagree. Unfortunately, silence means consent in their defensive ways of thinking.
HCPs often tell other people about all the bad things that you have “done” in their minds. If other people don’t hear that you disagree, then the HCP’s comments are assumed to be true by the other people.
HCPs’ Blamespeak is so extremely blaming and emotionally intense that their statements sound and feel true – even when they are not. (Emotions are contagious and intense emotions are intensely contagious.) So their emotions often persuade others that you are acting very badly and that the HCP is a victim, unless you can quickly inform them with factual information that distracts and counters the emotions. 
For example:
HCP:  “He never responded to my request. I was left hanging for weeks and it cost me a lot.”
This statement isn’t true because he did respond. But it sounds true – and influences the listener’s opinion of the target of the blame. If you don’t respond quickly, it becomes a given fact and opinions become established about you and your organization.
Many people in positions of authority, including businesses, government agencies and politicians, often make the mistake of assuming that people will not take Blamespeak seriously, so they don’t respond or wait much too long. It’s easy to find examples of this on a regular basis in the news.
HCP: “She never lets me spend time with my daughter.”
This statement isn’t true, but it sounds true. In close relationships (or previously close relationships), you’re a jerk until proven innocent. If you don’t respond, it must mean it’s true.
To learn more about dealing with high conflict people and situations, Bill Eddy, High Conflict Institute seminars and training, or to order BIFF or other books, please visit www.highconflictinstitute.com
 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

HCPs and Personality Disorders

Not all people with personality disorders are HCPs, because many of those with personality disorders are not preoccupied with targets of blame. They are just stuck in a narrow pattern of dysfunctional behavior.
And not all HCPs have a personality disorder. Many HCPs just have some difficult personality traits, but not a disorder at all. I want to emphasize that being a high-conflict person does not mean someone has a mental disorder. HCP is not a diagnosis – it’s a descriptive term for someone who has a lot of high-conflict behavior in relationships.
So don’t tell someone you think that she has a personality disorder! And don’t tell someone you think that he is a high-conflict person. Their HCP defensiveness may make your life miserable for months or years to come. And you may be wrong!
Instead, I recommend that you have a private working theory that someone may be an HCP. You don’t tell the person and you don’t assume you are right. It really doesn’t matter! You simply focus on key methods to help in managing your relationship, whether or not you are dealing with an HCP. Use your private working theory to change your own behavior, not theirs.
While a BIFF response itself isn’t going to change anyone, it should help you end a conversation that has been escalating out of control.
For more information about personality disorders and managing high-conflict people in general, see my book It’s All YOUR Fault! 12 Tips for Managing People Who Blame Others for Everything (2008, HCI Press).
For dealing with a high-conflict divorce, see Splitting: Protecting Yourself While Divorcing Someone with Borderline or Narcissistic Personality Disorder by Eddy and Kreger (2011, New Harbinger Press).

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Personality Disorders Appear To Be Increasing


Recent research suggests that more and more people are growing up with personality disorders. This may explain why there appears to be an increase in the number of high-conflict people. A recent study done by the National Institutes of Health between 2001 and 2005 suggests an increasing trend in the percentage of people who meet the criteria for a personality disorder. The researchers interviewed over 35,000 people, who were considered representative of the United States population. They analyzed the results by four age groups. The following are the study results for the five personality disorders which I believe are most often associated with high-conflict behavior:
Narcissistic =  6.2% of US population (62% male; 38% female)
Common conflict traits: arrogance, superiority, lack of empathy, insulting, self-centered

By age group:  65+ = 3.2%        64-45 = 5.6%        44-30 = 7.1%        29-20 yrs. = 9.4%
Borderline =  5.9% of US population   (47% male; 53% female)        
Common conflict traits: sudden intense anger, wide mood swings, revenge and vindication
 
By age group:  65+ = 2.0%        64-45 = 5.5%        44-30 = 7.0%        29-20 yrs. = 9.3%
Paranoid  =  4.4% of US population     (43% male; 57% female)        
Common traits of: extreme fearfulness, mistrusts everyone, fears conspiracies and betrayals

By age group:  65+ = 1.8%        64-45 = 3.6%        44-30 = 5.0%        29-18 yrs. = 6.8%
Antisocial  =    3.6% of US population (74% male; 26% female)        
Common traits: criminality, lying, fearless, enjoys bullying/hurting others, likes to dominate

By age group:  65+ = 0.6%        64-45 = 2.8%        44-30 = 4.2%        29-18 yrs. = 6.2%
Histrionic  =   1.8% of US population  (51% male; 49% female)        
Common traits: excessive drama, highly emotional, exaggerates, demands attention, may lie

By age group:  65+ = 0.6%        64-45 = 1.2%        44-30 = 1.8%        29-18 yrs. = 3.8% 
Read more at www.highconflictinstitute.com. BIFF available at Amazon.com.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Victoria Advanced Retreat Training

Last week I had a wonderful 2-day retreat/training experience with 30 highly experienced mental health professionals, lawyers, human resource managers and law enforcement officers. It was a perfect mix of professionals for learning how to deal with high conflict people (HCPs), because we are learning that HCPs often can’t stop themselves - in high-conflict divorces, in the workplace and in communities.

We are learning ways to stop their bad behavior, while bringing out the best in them. We discussed understanding some of the latest brain development research and how abused children and entitled children grow up to be HCPs in today’s society, which is increasingly filled with images of extreme behavior – which children are learning to mirror.

It’s not just one profession’s problem anymore, and this group had some great insight and discussions about how to be more effective. I was particularly gratified that several of those present had been handling New Ways for Families cases, since I trained them over a year ago in this method.

I also really enjoyed the fact that this was held in a home atmosphere, which helped strengthen the ties of those working in this community.    

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Excerpted from BIFF: How lack of self-awarness drives high conflict communications

Following Tuesday's post, a HCPs lack of self-awareness fuels combative communications. It runs rampant in their emails, social media posts, and other written communications.

The hardest thing to “get” about HCPs is that they lack an awareness of how they contribute to their own problems. They honestly view other people as causing the way they feel and the way they act. “She makes me feel this way.” “He made me do it.” They think they have to react the way they do, in order to protect themselves or to connect with people without feeling extremely vulnerable psychologically. They may be aware that other people react negatively to them, but they think that it’s everyone else’s fault.

Sure, they may be aware that they are lying sometimes or manipulating sometimes. But they feel that they have to lie and manipulate, because of unmanaged fears within themselves that they are not aware of. And you can’t tell them that! And you can’t change them! Trying to point out these hidden feelings will most likely trigger an intense rage against you. They’re hidden for a reason.

For many HCPs, this pattern of behavior is the result of childhood abuse. They learned that it didn’t matter whether they were bad or good – they still got physically hit, verbally abused, ignored, neglected or otherwise abused. They grew up learning that aggressive behavior is how you solve problems.

For other HCPs, it is a result of being raised with a strong sense of entitlement and exaggerated self-esteem. They learned that it didn’t matter whether they were good or bad – they still got what they wanted! This seems to have increased in society since the 1970’s with the increased emphasis on self-esteem. While having low self-esteem is a bad thing, too much self-esteem is also a bad thing – if it teaches people that they are superior to others and that they can get whatever they want, without learning skills and without working for it.

In both cases, abuse or entitlement, HCPs have not learned that their own behavior creates or worsens the conflict situations they are in. In many ways, this is a disability, as HCPs can’t see the connection between their own actions and how others respond to them. They don’t know how to solve relationship problems, so they make things worse and don’t understand why they feel so miserable so much of the time. They turn these feelings into blaming others – and staying upset. Because blaming others doesn’t solve problems.

To learn more about dealing with HCPs, high conflict communications, or to order your copy of BIFF: Quick Responses to High Conflict People, Their Hostile Emails, Personal Attacks and Social Media Meltdowns, visit www.highconflictinstitute.com

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

New Ways for Families” training in Alberta, Canada, for the YWCA of Calgary


I just finished a 2-day “New Ways for Families” training in Alberta, Canada, for the YWCA of Calgary. The YWCA just received a 3-year Ministry of Justice grant to implement this program, developed by our High Conflict Institute

It was a great experience, as there were nearly 100 counselors and a few lawyers in attendance, learning the “New Ways” methods of short-term counseling for potentially high-conflict families going through divorce. They asked excellent questions, especially about implementing this approach to help manage divorcing parents who are perpetrators and victims of domestic violence – one of the key goals of the program. The YWCA expects several hundred families will go through New Ways for Families and we will be studying its effectiveness.

There were also several people at the Calgary training from the Medicine Hat Family Service, also in Alberta, Canada, which also received a 3-year Ministry of Justice grant. They plan to have all divorcing families go through the New Ways program if they have a conflict over custody and access that they are bringing to court. My theory is that one-half of potentially high-conflict families that are headed into court battles over their children, will be able to stay out of court after learning the basic conflict resolution skills taught in this method. The research will tell. I look forward to more 2-day trainings in New Ways for Families this year!

For more information about Bill, High Conflict Institute, New Ways for Families, or to order a copy of BIFF, please visit: www.highconflictinstitute.com

AFCC Conference in Orlando, Florida

On June 2, I was a speaker at the annual international conference of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC). It was held in Orlando, Florida, and my session about the “New Ways for Families” method had approximately 100 family law professionals, including judges, lawyers, counselors and court staff. 


There was a great deal of interest in this method, which helps manage potentially high-conflict parents who are preparing to fight over their children, by teaching and reinforcing basic conflict resolution skills. Particularly encouraging was the interest from judges, who are looking for new ways of managing high-conflict families. 


I also got to show off our new book BIFF: Quick Responses to High Conflict People, Their Personal Attacks, Hostile Email and Social Media Meltdowns.(See photo)


I enjoyed seeing many old friends at this conference from all over the United States and Canada. It was a real energy boost - which you need in this kind of work!


For more information about Bill, High Conflict Institute, New Ways for Families, or to order a copy of BIFF, please visit: www.highconflictinstitute.com

BIFF Quick Responses to High Conflict People Their Personal Attacks, Hostile Email, and Social Media Meltdowns


High-Conflict Personalities
HCPs have a repeated pattern of aggressive behavior that increases conflict rather than reducing or resolving it. It may be part of their personalities – how they automatically and unconsciously think, feel and behave – and they carry this pattern with them. They tend to have a lot of:
All-or-nothing thinking (one person is all good, another is all bad)
Unmanaged emotions (exaggerated anger, fear, sadness – out of proportion to events)
Extreme behavior (yelling, hitting, lying, spreading rumors, impulsive actions, etc.)
Preoccupation with blaming others (people close to them or people in authority)
To HCPs, it seems normal and necessary to intensely blame others. They can’t restrain themselves, even though their blaming may harm themselves as well.
When problems and conflicts arise, instead of looking for solutions, HCPs look for someone to blame. They have an all-or-nothing approach. They think that it must be all your fault or else it might appear to be all their fault – and they can’t cope with that possibility for psychological reasons. They become preoccupied with blaming others in order to escape being blamed themselves. But you can’t point this out to them, because they become even more defensive.
To HCPs, conflict often feels like a life or death struggle. This explains why it may feel like they are engaged in campaigns to destroy you or someone else. They feel that their survival is at stake, so that they often show unmanaged emotions and extreme behaviors – even in routine conflicts or under normal pressures.
You don’t need to figure out whether someone is a high-conflict person. If you suspect someone is an HCP, just respond more carefully and understand that the person may have less self-control than you do. BIFF responses are a good method for coping with HCPs – and you can use them with anyone!


For more information on dealing with high conflict people and situations, or to download FREE articles and to order books, please visit: www.highconflictinstitute.com

Thursday, June 9, 2011

National Email Week: How to Respond to Blamespeak (Excerpted from BIFF)

Responding to Blamespeak

Many people initially react to Blamespeak with Blamespeak of their own (“counter Blamespeak”) – even people who are not ordinarily high-conflict people. Such counter attacks are a normal human response to the unrestrained aggressive behavior of others. Your counter attack might even be true. But pointing it out to an HCP won’t change anything. Usually it will just escalate the situation. For example, you might be tempted to say or write:
“YOU’RE the one who’s stupid, crazy and unethical! Let me tell you what’s really…”
“Look in the mirror, Buddy! Here’s what you’ll see…”
“You’re an idiot if you think I’m going to respond to your long-winded B.S. and incoherent babbling (or lies)!”
“If you don’t do something about this problem, I’m going to expose your illegal, fraudulent and unethical behavior to everyone! First of all, …”
“You have no clue what you are talking about and should just shut up! I’ll tell you …”
Such counter Blamespeak not only doesn’t work; it also makes you look like an HCP to those outside the situation. Then, the HCP uses your reaction to justify a new round of Blamespeak, and on and on. The key is to not over-react, but to respond quickly with a BIFF response to Blamespeak. Or not to respond at all, which is often the best idea.
The rest of this book gives you a simple strategy for knowing when and how to respond to Blamespeak – or any frustrating behavior – with a BIFF response. Chapters Four through Nine provide BIFF responses to specific situations, but they also add tips which you may find helpful in any setting. Chapters Three and Ten explain some recent brain research that indicates that you may influence how others will respond to you, by how you choose to respond to them. So choose your words carefully.
To learn how to write a BIFF, for more help information on dealing with high conflict people and their Blamespeak, visit our website: www.highconflictinstitute.com.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Understanding and Managing High Conflict Personalities in Legal Disputes

I'll deliver a full-day seminar at the Washington State Bar Association on October 24, 2011. For more information, check back here or contact the WSBA via their website.

This Week is National Email Week: Blamespeak. What is it? (excerpted from BIFF)


Blamespeak
Blamespeak is the term I use for the language of high-conflict blaming. It has increased rapidly over the past ten years, although it’s been around for eternity. While everyone may “lose” it and use Blamespeak on a rare occasion, HCPs (high conflict people) use it a lot.
Blamespeak often sounds like the intimate, disrespectful way that young children talk to their siblings or their parents in anger in the privacy of their homes before they learn how to be adults with adult self-restraint: “I hate you!” “You’re an idiot!” “I’m never speaking to you again!” Then a minute later, these young children are playing happily together. Unfortunately, such intimate disrespect has broken out into the airwaves and onto the screens, with modern radio, TV, movies and the Internet. And there’s no playing together afterwards.
It is a way of interacting with others that avoids the vulnerability of true adult relationships. It may be a result of never learning the self-restraint skills that children used to learn in their families and communities. Blamespeak would be considered child-like behavior, except that it is demonstrated today by some of the most powerful people in our society. It is a way of getting attention at a time of rapid change, when there are fewer established ways of getting attention – such as used to occur within a large family, a tight community, or stable religious and political organizations.
If you want attention these days, you have to grab it! And Blamespeak is the cheapest and easiest way to grab attention in our society. Our brains are wired to pay the most attention to emergencies – following the nonverbal cues of extreme facial expressions, tone of voice and hand gestures. This is what you see on our screens today. Blamespeak does grab your attention!
Unfortunately, electronic media has the ability to manipulate our emergency brain wiring, by repeating the exact same blaming words and tone of voice over and over and over again. This gives these repeated words exaggerated power and respect, which hijacks our attention and makes us believe we are in danger and should be more anxious than circumstances truly warrant. Have you noticed how hard it is to ignore loud, dramatic and intense Blamespeak in the news and on your own computer screen – every day?
Recognizing Blamespeak
You can recognize Blamespeak by the following characteristics, which make it hard to ignore: 
1.         It’s usually emotionally intense and out of proportion to the issues. Although sometimes it can seem calm, but be subtle and passive aggressive and bring out the worst in a reasonable person’s response. Blamespeak is never boring.
2.         It’s very personal: about your intelligence, sanity, memory, ethics, sex life, looks, etc.
3.         It’s all your fault: the Blamespeaker feels no responsibility for the problem or the    solution.
4.         It’s out of context: it ignores all of the good you’ve done and all of the bad the Blamespeaker has done.
5.         It’s often shared with others to emphasize how “blameworthy” you are and how “blameless” the speaker is. The Blamespeaker has no sense of shame, embarrassment, or boundaries. He or she will speak this way about you in public. Unfortunately, Blamespeak often sounds believable to those who aren’t informed about your situation.
6.         You have an intensely negative gut feeling about the Blamespeak, which sickens you, makes you feel intensely fearful, suddenly helpless, and/or very angry at someone: the Blamespeaker or another one of their targets of blame.
7.         You find yourself compelled to respond with Blamespeak of your own. It is extremely hard to step back to prepare a reasonable response, or to decide not to respond at all.

Learn more about High Conflict People, High Conflict Institute, or order a book at www.highconflictinstitute.com

Monday, June 6, 2011

This Week is National Email Week: To Whom do you Respond? (excerpted from BIFF)


To Whom Should You Respond?
Generally, I recommend that you respond to the same person or people in the same format used by the Blamespeaker(s). If it was an email or letter from her to you, then you can respond to her by email – if at all. If it was copied to another person (friend, boss, lawyer, etc.), then you should include that person in your response. If it was sent to a group of people, then respond to the group – such as using Reply All with an email.
If the Blamespeak was made to the public, such as in the newspaper, radio or television, then you should try to reach the same audience. It’s not always possible to reach the same audience with the same impact as the Blamespeak, but you should try the best you can – as quickly (and carefully) as possible. When you respond in public, it is particularly important to make sure to have it reviewed by someone else first!
How you respond will make a big difference to the HCP. If you inadvertently give him negative feedback, you will increase the intensity of his interactions with you, as HCPs can’t handle negative feedback. It’s better to use BIFFs and avoid talking about the past. Even if you are in a committed relationship or a position of authority and explaining your concerns about the past is necessary, it helps to put the emphasis on the desired future behavior – although you may have to acknowledge the past or address it officially. Just keep the focus on the future as much as possible.
Learn more about our latest book designed to help you manage the maze of today's communications. Visit us at www.highconflictinstitute.com. You can browse all of our book, CD and Video titles at Amazon.com.
 

Friday, June 3, 2011

Use and Abuse of Social Media (excerpted from BIFF: Quick Responses to High Conflict People, Their Hostile Emails, Personal Attacks and Social Media Meltdowns)


Facebook and other social media offer the opportunity to communicate with many people at once. In many ways, this can be a good thing. However, it also offers every single one of someone’s “Facebook Friends” a chance to see his or her comments and respond to them immediately for all to see – including Blamespeak! And there’s a lot of it in today’s social media.  
The original poster may have posted something completely innocuous, but the HCP (high conflict person) responds in the form of a personal attack – usually in just a few short sentences or even just one sentence. Then it can be all out war between the two, and almost every time the “Facebook Friends” get involved. People who don’t even know each other join in. All of this happens very quickly and escalates rapidly.
Many people today, especially in high school, are using such social media to bully and destroy others. This gives mean girls and boys unlimited power to attack their peers – more than ever before. A BIFF response can clear up the whole thing or start to de-escalate it. The more that people use BIFF responses on the Internet, the more the HCPs will stand out as being the exception rather than the norm.
People can learn to catch themselves and respond with BIFFs – or not respond at all. As explained above, the amygdalas in our right brains can get emotionally hooked, but we can override the fear and anger responses by practicing reasonable responses like BIFFs. A friend using social media can step in at any time and give a BIFF, and reduce the conflict – rather than getting emotionally hooked and adding to the Blamespeak. As people learn more about HCPs, they may be less likely to want to act like one.  
Learn more about high conflict people, BIFF, and conflict resolution by visiting our website: www.highconflictinstitute.com.