Thursday, September 29, 2011

Why I Wrote Splitting


I started writing Splitting: Protecting Yourself While Divorcing Someone with Borderlineor Narcissistic Personality Disorder after several years as a family law attorney. Randi Kreger had asked me to write the book to help many of the family members who contacted her website with questions about dealing with divorce when a spouse had a borderline personality disorder  (BPD). With my background as a therapist before I became a lawyer, I knew about BPD and other personality disorders.

For twelve years I was a therapist (Licensed Clinical Social Worker), working in psychiatric hospitals and outpatient clinics with children, couples, and families. Most of my work focused on substance abuse and depression. But many of my clients were involved in legal cases, frequently divorces.

Throughout my career as a therapist, I was also involved part-time in mediation – a method of resolving disputes out of court. I decided to go to law school to set up a comprehensive divorce mediation sevice and graduated in 1992. I opened a law and mediation office in San Diego, spending half of my time as a divorce mediator and the other half as an attorney in family court.

When I first began representing clients in court cases, I was quite surprised and naïve. Perhaps because of my background as a therapist, I did not realize that family court was still such a highly adversarial process. I had assumed it was an information gathering process, with a benevolent, all-knowing judge somehow figuring out the family and deciding what should be done -- much as a therapist diagnoses and treats a problem.

It turned out I was projecting my own expectations onto the court system -- a big mistake. Instead, I found that family court cases are now dominated by high conflict divorces with high conflict personalities -- and that these personalities are primarily unrecognized and untreated Borderlines and Narcissists.

After a dozen years as a therapist (Licensed Clinical Social Worker in California) and 18 years now as a family law attorney (a Certified Family Law Specialist in California), I have seen some clear patterns to these cases and recognize some common principles for handling them.  Yet most court-related professionals seem unaware of these problems -- and their possible solutions. This made my life in family court much more difficult. So I tried to explain this problem to others.

Ironically, when I first started trying to tell legal professionals about personality disorders in the 1990’s, they were highly skeptical and largely disinterested. I told my lawyer colleagues about these disorders and they said it sounded pretty strange. I told judges and they said that this issue was irrelevant. I told my mental health professional friends that many of the high-conflict cases in family courts were driven by one or two personality disorders and they encouraged me not to talk about it for fear that such people would be stigmatized and decisions made solely on the existence of a personality disorder.

However, I kept talking about it and eventually I was asked to speak at legal conferences, judicial training seminars and programs for mental health professionals. By 2002, when I met Randi Kreger, I was finishing a book for professionals about this (High Conflict People in Legal Disputes).

My approach in Splitting and in my seminars is to educate people about these disorders, without judging people and without making assumptions about their specific abilities. These disorders have patterns of behavior, but they vary widely in terms of parenting skills, etc. In some cases, one person has such a disorder – or traits, without the full disorder. In other cases, both people have these problems, although to different degrees. I have even had cases in which a parent with borderline personality disorder has been the better parent, so that none of this is clear cut. In Splitting, we try to explain this so that people focus on patterns of behavior, rather than using these personality labels.

So my goal was and is to educate everyone: professionals, people going through a divorce, and their family members about general patterns to understand and deal with. With this knowledge, people can make better decisions, manage their divorces and post-divorce lives, and grow stronger themselves. Based on the feedback Randi and I have been receiving, it seems that we are helping many people who previously felt alone in facing these problems. We are always interested in your feedback. 


High Conflict Institute provides training and consultations, as well and books, DVDs and CDs regarding dealing with High Conflict People (HCPs) in legal, workplace, educational, and healthcare disputes. Bill Eddy is the President of the High Conflict Institute and the author of "It's All Your Fault!", "Splitting", "BIFF: Quick Responses to High Conflict People, Their Hostile Emails, Personal Attacks and Social Media Meltdowns" and "Don't Alienate the Kids!". He is an author, attorney, mediator, and therapist. Bill has presented seminars to attorneys, judges, mediators, ombudspersons, human resource professionals, employee assistance professionals, managers, and administrators in 25 states, several provinces in Canada, France, and Australia. For more information about High Conflict Institute, our seminars and consultations, Bill Eddy or to purchase a book, CD or DVD, visit: http://www.HighConflictInstitute.com

Mental Health Professionals: Working with High Conflict Clients: Ethics and Risk Management


On Sept. 15th I presented “Working with High Conflict Clients: Ethics and Risk Management” to over 300 mental health professionals in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, sponsored by J & K Seminars. This was a new approach for me, in that I combined the issues and behavior of high conflict people (who often have personality disorders or traits) with discussing ways to manage them in the therapy setting, rather than legal settings – like family court, mediation, etc.

I focused on the ethical risks for therapists: problems with confidentiality, child abuse reporting, problems of dual relationships, sex with former clients, and so forth. Therapists are at risk of raising their clients’ expectations too high and then becoming targets of blame, when clients take out their disappointments on those trying to help them. But there are many ways to manage these issues while helping high conflict clients. Many of them benefit from therapy, if the therapist understands and manages the risks involved.  I also enjoyed being in Pennsylvania, just a couple hours away from where I grew up!

High Conflict Institute provides training and consultations, as well and books, DVDs and CDs regarding dealing with High Conflict People (HCPs) in legal, workplace, educational, and healthcare disputes. Bill Eddy is the President of the High Conflict Institute and the author of "It's All Your Fault!", "Splitting", "BIFF: Quick Responses to High Conflict People, Their Hostile Emails, Personal Attacks and Social Media Meltdowns" and "Don't Alienate the Kids!". He is an author, attorney, mediator, and therapist. Bill has presented seminars to attorneys, judges, mediators, ombudspersons, human resource professionals, employee assistance professionals, managers, and administrators in 25 states, several provinces in Canada, France, and Australia. For more information about High Conflict Institute, our seminars and consultations, Bill Eddy or to purchase a book, CD or DVD, visit: http://www.HighConflictInstitute.com

Elder Family Mediation Advanced Training: an evolving area of mediation


I just finished a 2-day Elder Family Mediation Advanced Training in Los Angeles. It was sponsored by La Sierra University School of Business Center for Conflict Resolution Adult Resolution and Mediation Services (ARMS). About 25 mediators and future mediators attended and participated in intensive exposure to several elder law and caregiver presentations, as well as role-play exercises. This is an evolving area of mediation, with many legal and financial issues to address in mediation, as well as family dynamics and the problems raised when there is someone with a high-conflict personality in the family. Yet the group was energetic and eager to learn how to truly help families facing issues of an aging person (often a parent), including inability to care for themselves and their finances.

I was totally impressed with the thorough organization of the training, which totaled 4 days. I spoke at the last two days on managing high-conflict clients in mediation. The need for strong structure of the mediation process was made clear in the practice exercises, when several family members were participating and one of them was a high-conflict person. As with all high conflict work, you can’t just listen to a lecture. You have to practice skills and make several paradigm shifts in how you interact with high-conflict individuals. The group realized this and made good efforts to take risks and expose their weaknesses in order to become stronger mediators. Overall, I finished the two days feeling very encouraged that mediation is the best way to go in handling elder issues, and that this group of mediators will become some of the best around in the near future. I look forward to encouraging them and to future training in this field.

High Conflict Institute provides training and consultations, as well and books, DVDs and CDs regarding dealing with High Conflict People (HCPs) in legal, workplace, educational, and healthcare disputes. Bill Eddy is the President of the High Conflict Institute and the author of It's All Your Fault!, Splitting, BIFF: Quick Responses to High Conflict People, Their Hostile Emails, Personal Attacks and Social Media Meltdowns and Don't Alienate the Kids! He is an author, attorney, mediator, and therapist. Bill has presented seminars to attorneys, judges, mediators, ombudspersons, human resource professionals, employee assistance professionals, managers, and administrators in 25 states, several provinces in Canada, France, and Australia. For more information about High Conflict Institute, our seminars and consultations, Bill Eddy or to purchase a book, CD or DVD, visit: http://www.HighConflictInstitute.com

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/6418967

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Negative Behaviors of High Conflict Parents in Divorce


On Friday, September 16, I gave a seminar on managing high conflict divorce to over 85 family lawyers, counselors and a couple family court judges in Milwaukee. It was sponsored by the Medical College of Wisconsin and it was their first event bringing together these two groups of professionals. Counselors (or “behavioral health professionals”) are increasingly dealing with the emotional effects of high conflict divorce. We discussed at length that the negative behaviors of high conflict parents in divorce are being passed on to their children, which may become part of the children’s personalities growing up. I discussed the large research study on personality disorders done by the National Institutes of Health, which indicates that personality disorders may be increasing in society and that younger people may be at higher risk than ever before.

With this in mind, the group was very receptive to the idea that our work with high conflict parents needs to focus more on skills than on decisions, and to reduce the adversarial nature of divorce as much as possible. It was a great experience and there is a good likelihood that I’ll be back next summer to present more of this information. I’m very encouraged by the shared desire to really help high conflict families, rather than to judge them or criticize them. After all, their children are the future for all of us. And with the collaborative efforts of professionals, such as I met in Milwaukee, I think we really can make a difference!

Thanks!
Bill

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Essentials for Elder Family Mediation Training

I'll be speaking on the 20 and 21 of September at the Center for Conflict Resolution at La Sierra University's School of Business. Day one will cover “Understanding High Conflict Personalities to Effectively Manage the Mediation Process” and on day two I'll give a seminar on “Understanding High Conflict Personalities to Effectively Manage the Mediation Process”.


Two of our books, Managing High Conflict People in Court and High Conflict People in Legal Disputes were specifically written for those who deal--on both sides of conflict--with high conflict plaintiffs, litigants, and defendants. 
    

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Guest Blog: Randi Kreger Psychology Today: Read This Post Before You Send That Angry Email


"There's something about the Internet--the quick responses, the anonymity--that almost begs for a hostile response. Online newspapers are being forced to devise policies about their comments sections that allow for healthy conversations but discourage hate mail and ad hominem attacks. And who hasn't wanted to rip out a response to an angry ex or arrogant coworker?


But peace, baby, peace. Angry emails sent in the heat of the moment can ruin relationships, get you fired, and prove downright embarrassing. Attorney and therapist Bill Eddy (the author of Splitting)has come up with a popular and easy way to make your point and set limits without regretting what you said the morning after. It's called B.I.F.F., and it stands for Brief, Informative, Friendly and Firm. It works for responses in real or online responses in all types of situations, including legal proceedings."


Read the full blog: click here!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Learn how to deal with High Conflict People. Earn CEUs


Working with High Conflict Clients: Ethics and Risk Management (Sept 15th) - Bill Eddy, LCSW, JD, CFLS 


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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Managing a Blamer with an Assertive Approach

Excerpted from Splitting...


...After the hearing, the judge ordered Sam and Sarah into a custody evaluation, and awarded Sam temporary custody of their son, Jay, pending a full evaluation and hearing on custody. Sarah was given visitation three days a week, with exchanges at her cousin’s house, and required to undergo a substance abuse assessment.
Sam also produced a deed showing that their home was only in his name, claiming it was his separate property. His attorney said that if anyone should move out, it was Sarah. He said that she could stay with her cousin. The judge seemed sympathetic with Sam and told Sarah she must move. Her temporary restraining order was dismissed.
After Tammy said that Thomas had molested their daughter, the court counselor was required by law to contact Child Protective Services (CPS) and inform them of the sexual abuse report so that it could be investigated. To be safe, the court counselor recommended that Tammy have temporary custody and that Thomas have supervised visitation until an investigation could be done.
Soon afterward, the court ordered a full psychological evaluation of the family and a hearing on it in three months. Until the hearing, Thomas was ordered to have three hours a week of supervised visitation at a local agency, which he had to pay for.
Thomas was a trusting, problem-solving person. Known as being friendly and cooperative, he originally believed he would easily succeed in his case. But after he was ordered to have supervised visitation, he was furious: “How could the judge assume I’m guilty and make such an order? Why didn’t you tell the court Tammy was lying? If she’s going to make a bunch of allegations, then we need to make even more allegations against her.”
His attorney responded, “Slow down. This is just the beginning. We can’t be passive, but we can’t be too aggressive either. This is the court’s procedure, and we need to follow it as perfectly as we can. We have to take the high road and expose her false statements while not appearing to make wild accusations ourselves. How you appear to the court is just as important as getting out the facts. We now have a lot of work to do to accomplish both. We have to be very assertive."...
To learn more about the Assertive Approach for yourself or your clients, purchase your copy of Splitting: Protecting Yourself While Divorcing Someone with a Borderline or Narcissistic Personality Disorder.


The above was excerpted from Splitting, to read more of this passage, order your copy of Splitting by visiting www.unhookedbooks.com. To learn more about Bill Eddy, visit www.highconflictinstitute.com. To learn more about co-author, Randi Kreger, visit www.bpdcentral.com.
 
High Conflict Institute provides training and consultations, as well and books, DVDs and CDs regarding dealing with High Conflict People (HCPs) in legal, workplace, educational, and healthcare disputes. Bill Eddy is the President of the High Conflict Institute and the author of It's All Your Fault!, Splitting, BIFF: Quick Responses to High Conflict People, Their Hostile Emails, Personal Attacks and Social Media Meltdowns and Don't Alienate the Kids!. He is an author, attorney, mediator, and therapist. Bill has presented seminars to attorneys, judges, mediators, ombudspersons, human resource professionals, employee assistance professionals, managers, and administrators in 25 states, several provinces in Canada, France, and Australia. For more information about High Conflict Institute, our seminars and consultations, Bill Eddy or to purchase a book, CD or DVD, visit: http://www.HighConflictInstitute.com




Bill Eddy Attorney, Mediator, and Clinical Social Worker



Randi Kreger -Co-author of Stop Walking on Eggshells, author of The Stop Walking on Eggshells Workbook and The Essential Family Guide to Borderline Personality Disorder

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Quick Start Guide (for Avoiding A High Conflict Divorce)

© 2011 by Bill Eddy and Randi Kreger(Excerpt from SPLITTING: Protecting Yourself While Divorcing Someone with Borderline or Narcissistic Personality Disorder, by Bill Eddy & Randi Kreger, published by New Harbinger press, 2011)

The more prepared you are, the less likely you will be to have a high-conflict divorce. While these hints can’t fully protect you, the sooner you take action on them, the better off you will be. 

1. Develop an emergency plan. Your partner could assault or evict you at any time. Figure out a safe place to go, get some ready cash, and think about who can help you on short notice. Copy important records and keep them in a safe place. (See chapter 5.)

2. As soon as possible after they occur, write down accurate details of problems and events between you and your partner (and others) that could become issues in court. Keep a journal or other written record of anything pertinent. If other people were present, write down their names. Save email and text-message correspondence in a safe place, especially copies of hostile, harassing, and controversial exchanges. (See chapter 5.)

3. Communicate very carefully and respectfully with your partner, because anything may be introduced into evidence. Make any emails, whether initiated by you or in response to your partner, brief, informative, friendly, and firm (BIFF; see chapter 4). This is especially true if your partner’s emails are hostile. Avoid setups for violent confrontations, such as physically fighting over papers, or pushing and shoving. Indicate that you want to settle issues out of court to keep things calm, but always be prepared for the realistic possibility of court. (See chapters 4, 5, 13, and 14.)

4. Protect your children from conflicts between you and your partner. Don’t say anything against your partner, no matter how provoked you might be, because anything could become evidence. Avoid:

To read the full article click here! 

Bill Eddy is an attorney, therapist, mediator and the President of High Conflict Institute. Bill and our affiliate trainers are available to present 3-hour and 6-hour training sessions to organizations, large and small, in understanding and managing incivility and other high-conflict behavior. We have provided such training to law offices, hospital administrations, human resource departments from colleges to railroads, homeowners associations and staff, and others. Bill is the author of several books, including: BIFF: Quick Responses to High Conflict People, Their Personal Attacks, Hostile Email and Social Media Meltdowns (HCI Press, 2011). For more information about our seminars, books, CDs and DVDs, please visit www.HighConflictInstitute.com.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Incivility in the Workplace: A Growing Problem

Civility Training at Work
By Bill Eddy, LCSW, Esq.
© 2011 by High Conflict Institute


Times have changed. Incivility is growing in the workplace, as well as in most areas of our society. How big of a problem is this? Why is this happening? And what can be done about it – as individuals and as organizations? The two main points of this article are to explain why the most effective civility training focuses on specific skills, rather than simply admonishing people to be civil or decent, and to explain why such training is best when provided to a whole workgroup or organization at the same time.
A Growing Problem?
In August 2011, a front-page newspaper article stated that incivility in the workplace is growing, as reported by the American Psychological Association. According to a poll by Civility in America, 43% of American workers have experienced incivility and 38% say there is increasing disrespect in the workplace. Another study showed 86% of workers saw incidents of incivility in several firms.[i]
Effective January 2009, The Joint Commission, which sets the standards for hospitals nationwide, adopted new leadership standards for conflict management in hospitals, because of “intimidating and disruptive behaviors” by some healthcare professionals and employees that could affect patient care.[ii]
In July 2009, a “Civility Toolbox” for California attorneys was implemented after being developed by a Civility Task Force because of the “perceived decline in civility in the practice of law.”[iii]
In July 2011, a squabble between congressional members hit the national news for a week during the debt ceiling debate, when one member sent an email (copied to several others) telling another member “You are the most vile, unprofessional, and despicable member of the US House of Representatives…. You have proven repeatedly that you are not a Lady, therefore, shall not be afforded due respect from me!”[iv]

These events indicate a growing problem with incivility throughout our society. However, not everyone acts this way. Now appears to be a good time to strongly address this problem before it grows out of control. First, we need to understand what may be driving this behavior, so we can most effectively reduce it.
What Causes Incivility? 
There seems to be several causes feeding this problem.
A CULTURE OF BLAME AND DISRESPECT:  We currently live in a Culture of Blame and Disrespect, so that television, movies, the internet and even newspapers emphasize the misbehavior of individuals more than issues of real substance: Who said what disrespectful statement to whom today? Who walked off a TV show or out of a political meeting? And what acts of the worst individual violence were done – and by whom? It’s as if to say: “Don’t you ever act this way – and we’ll show you again and again how to do it!”
Brain researchers have recently discovered that we have “mirror neurons” in our brains, which cause us to imagine ourselves doing the exact same behaviors of the people we see around us and to feel what they are feeling – perhaps to prepare ourselves to do the same behaviors if necessary.[v] They report that our mirror neurons even imitate the behavior of people we see on a 2-dimensional screen (TV, computers, etc.), although the effect may be slightly less than it would be in person. Thus we may be absorbing the behaviors associated with violence, disrespect and the current cultural preoccupation with blaming others while avoiding responsibility. Whether we actually act on these behaviors may depend on our closest colleagues.
Incivility is an angry act. Brain research informs us that watching other people’s facial expressions of anger or fear can hook the amygdala in our brains with lighting speed. The amygdala grabs our attention, shuts down our higher thinking, and prepares us for “fight or flight.”[vi] In many cases, incivility may be part of this protective/defensive response, such as the congressman suggests above. He justifies his statement by saying it was simply a response to the congresswoman’s attack on him.
Such negative behavior is clearly inappropriate in modern situations and often backfires. Yet we are repeatedly exposed to examples of incivility, presented as newsworthy behavior from the highest levels of government, business and entertainment. While such statements are criticized by some, they are defended and applauded by others. This behavior – and the lack of agreement about it – makes us more anxious as a society, and research shows that we are more likely to absorb the emotions of those around us if we are anxious.[vii]
With this knowledge, it’s not surprising that incivility is growing in our culture. Rather than emphasizing the positive behaviors necessary for the success of a culture, we are preoccupied with entertainment and news images that emphasize the negative – because it’s what grabs our attention and that’s what sells. Unfortunately, this is also what we learn to mirror.
HIGH-CONFLICT INDIVIDUALS: Recent research indicates that “high-conflict” personalities are increasing in our society. People with these personalities tend to have a lot of all-or-nothing thinking, unmanaged emotions, extreme behaviors, a preoccupation with blaming others and a lack of self-restraint.[viii] [ix] Making rude and uncivil comments may be part of their personalities, so that it feels totally appropriate to them and they are not even apologetic or embarrassed by this behavior. On the other hand, some people may not have “high-conflict” personalities, but they may believe that rude comments and behavior are an appropriate response to someone else’s uncivil behavior.
For example, is the congressman above a high-conflict person? Or is he simply responding to a high-conflict person with appropriate comments? He justifies his behavior because of his perception that her behavior was unjustified. (He said she had spoken about his position on the issues after he had left a public meeting, so that he had no chance to respond.) Many people take this justification approach these days. Some are high-conflict people themselves, with a long-standing pattern of blaming others and a lack of self-awareness of their own negative behavior. Others are generally reasonable people who have become “emotionally hooked.”
For example, one management educator suggests in his book that it is appropriate to respond to rude behavior with a disdainful public response. (A man who was hassling a waitress was publically told by another customer that he was the perfect example of an asshole. “The entire place roared, and the asshole looked humiliated, shut his trap, and soon slithered out, while the waitress beamed.”[x]) Unfortunately, while momentarily satisfying, this approach is often just as uncivil as the rude behavior it is allegedly confronting. Instead, there are skills that people can use to respond to rude behavior without being uncivil in return. But these skills need to be practiced and part of the social environment. 
ORGANIZATIONAL LEADERSHIP:  People who study the social behavior of animals say that all mammals have a natural “dominance hierarchy.”  There’s an “alpha” wolf or dog or baboon who is in charge of the pack. It’s common to have physical fights among these animals, until the dominance hierarchy has been established and the loser backs off. Then there is peace and stability, and the pack follows the leader’s lead behavior – often for quite a while. When the alpha finally loses the ability to remain dominant, then a new alpha emerges – often after a vicious power struggle – followed by a new period of stability.[xi] [xii]
This pattern seems to apply to humans as well, although mostly with verbal power struggles. However, long periods of peace and stability may be diminishing in today’s world, as businesses go through rapid upheavals and organizational change has become the standard. Not only is there increased anxiety as the hierarchy is constantly changed, but the worst power struggle behaviors of those on top may be repeated throughout the organization – as individuals try to defend themselves or jocky for higher positions. Uncivil statements are often part of these power struggles and the longer they remain unresolved, the more likely that they will spill over into the workplace at large.
Other research shows that we tend to adapt to the characteristics of the people around us. For example, if you are around obese people, you are more likely to become obese. If you are around people who smoke, you are more likely to smoke. And if you are around people who are happy, you are more likely to be happy.[xiii]
All of this suggests that the organizational culture is driven by the examples at the top and by those closest to us in the workplace. If incivility is part of that culture, it will easily spread. Everyone knows how to be uncivil these days, based on the training we are receiving daily from our larger Culture of Blame and Disrespect. However, if incivility is rejected in the organizational culture, from the top down to the workgroup, then people are more likely to restrain themselves and practice civil behavior.
With all of this in mind, the following suggestions are made regarding the ways that civility training can benefit organizations and individuals. The focus needs to be on specific skills for civil responses to difficult behavior or uncivil comments, and on training the whole organization at the same time, to provide shared skills and an organizational culture that promotes respect and problem-solving.
What Can Be Done?
Specific skills can be taught for responding to uncivil or “high-conflict” behavior, which are simple and easy to remember under pressure. When we provide seminars to organizations, some of our most popular skills are the simplest to learn – although they need a lot of practice under pressure. The following are four of examples:
1.            Reminders, such as “It’s Not About You!”: This is one of the most powerful statements that gives employees encouragement, while also restraining their own temptations to respond with an attack on someone else’s uncivil behavior. They don’t have to defend themselves or prove anything, because “It’s Not About Me!” This saves an incredible amount of emotional energy and time. At our trainings, we present several such “reminders” which can be practiced regularly. A full explanation of each of these gives employees a logical basis for the reminders, as well as an increased ability to remember them. Without a full explanation and repetitive practice, employees are more likely to forget and engage in counter-attacks in response to incivility and the bad behavior of others in general.
 
2.            BIFF Responses. BIFFs are usually responses to uncivil emails, letters, memos and public attacks, usually in writing. BIFF stands for Brief, Informative, Friendly and Firm. Responding in this manner shifts the focus from attack-defend to information and choices. A good BIFF often ends a negative email or social media conversation that has been spiraling out of control. These brief responses can save energy and time, while earning respect for the person who is able to write a good BIFF. (See BIFF: Quick Responses to High Conflict People, Their Personal Attacks, Hostile Email and Social Media Meltdowns at end of this article.)

3.            E.A.R. Statements. E.A.R. stands for Empathy, Attention and/or Respect. By making statements which use this verbal technique, a person can respond to uncivil comments on the job with clients, co-workers and even supervisors. It takes the conflict out of the situation immediately. But it takes practice. In our seminars we include short and fun exercises for implementing this technique. (See article on our website titled: Calming Upset People with E.A.R.)

4.            “That’s enough, Joe!” This is a skill for bystanders who witness uncivil behavior and for targets of incivility themselves. Incivility is fed by the laughter of bystanders or lack of opposition by bystanders. As incivility grows, such public disrespect is a more common occurrence. But an organization or workgroup can nip this in the bud by practicing calmly saying “That’s enough, Joe!” (or whatever the person’s name). This is a small and generally non-threatening message that’s easier to say than a major office confrontation or embarrassing public humiliation of the offender (tempting as it is).  Also, an employee may feel safe saying this to an offender, whereas getting up the strength for a major or clever rejoinder may not be possible or appropriate (or safe). Of course, this also takes practice and some discretion in deciding when it is appropriate, especially when the offender is a supervisor. Just saying this to oneself about the offender can be reassuring and helpful.
These are four examples of several ways to avoid making uncivil comments or over-reacting to incivility. When individuals practice these techniques it empowers them to respond more quickly and confidently. This is much more effective than simply admonishing someone to be decent or civil, or feeling hopeless about incivility in today’s culture. When workgroups and organizations learn and practice these skills together, it gives everyone responses that they can share. Any co-worker can say “Remember, what Joe said is not about you” and a targeted co-worker will understand immediately.  By understanding and learning these skills together, an organizational culture of respect and problem-solving can prevail. Such a culture can reduce stress on the job, and these skills can help employees in their personal lives as well.  
------------------------
Bill Eddy is an attorney, therapist, mediator and the President of High Conflict Institute. Bill and our affiliate trainers are available to present 3-hour and 6-hour training sessions to organizations, large and small, in understanding and managing incivility and other high-conflict behavior. We have provided such training to law offices, hospital administrations, human resource departments from colleges to railroads, homeowners associations and staff, and others. Bill is the author of several books, including: BIFF: Quick Responses to High Conflict People, Their Personal Attacks, Hostile Email and Social Media Meltdowns (HCI Press, 2011). For more information about our seminars, books, CDs and DVDs, please visit www.HighConflictInstitute.com.




[i] Jayson, S. At Work, No More Mr. Nice Guy, USA Today, August 8, 2011.
[ii] Joint Commission Sentinel Event Alert, Issue 40, July 9, 2008 © The Joint Commission 2008.

[iii] California Attorney Guidelines of Civility & Professionalism, Adopted July 20, 2007, California State Bar Association.

[v] Iacoboni, M. (2008). Mirroring People: The New Science of How We Connect with Others.

[vi] Goleman, D. (2006). Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships.

[vii] Goleman, above.

[viii] See Eddy, B. (2008). It’s All YOUR Fault! 12 Tips for Managing People Who Blame Others for Everything.

[ix] Twenge, J. & W. K. Campbell (2009). The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement.

[x] Sutton, R. (2007). The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t.

[xi] Grandin, T. & C. Johnson (2005). Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior.

[xii] Sopalsky, R. (2001). A Primate’s Memoir.
[xiii]  Brooks, D. (2011). The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character and Achievement.