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Using BIFF Responses

In today’s episode, we talk about how to tackle hostile communications with BIFF Responses.

What is a hostile communication? It usually contains blame and personal attacks. You read it. Your heart rate doubles. You either want to blast back or instantly delete. Mostly, you never want to hear from that person again. It was far less common pre-electronic communication. Now it’s a matter of daily life, especially on social media or even more so when the communication is coming from someone with a high conflict personality.

The challenge with dealing with HCPs, or people with High Conflict Personalities, is that they wage war wherever they can, including on your screen. The problem is that most people respond right away. Why? Because they think they need to defend themselves. We talk about why people do that; why the HCP sends it in the first place; whether or not you need to respond; and if you do, how to do it differently using a BIFF Response.

Do you need to respond?

Much of hostile e-communication does not need a response. Letters from (ex-) spouses, angry neighbors, irritating co-workers, or attorneys do not usually have legal significance. The letter itself has no power, unless you give it power. Often, it is emotional venting aimed at relieving the writer’s anxiety. If you respond with similar emotions and hostility, you will simply escalate things without satisfaction, and just get a new piece of hostile mail back. In most cases, you are better off not responding.

If you do have to respond, use a BIFF Response.

Some letters and emails develop power when copies are filed in a court or complaint process – or simply get sent to other people. In these cases, it may be important to respond to inaccurate statements with accurate statements of fact. The best way to handle hostile communications from an HCP is with a BIFF Response. BIFF reminds you to be Brief, Informative, Friendly, and Firm, assuming you need to respond.

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Links & Other Notes

You can also find these show notes at highconflictinstitute.com/podcast as well.

  • 00:00 – Welcome to It’s All Your Fault
  • 01:42 – High Conflict in the Written Word
  • 04:45 – Using BIFF
  • 07:30 – What’s Happening in the Brain?
  • 11:13 – When to Respond
  • 13:08 – An Example
  • 16:14 – Not Taking It Personally
  • 17:23 – Three As
  • 23:53 – BIFFing That Example
  • 30:00 – BIFF in High Conflict Divorce
  • 34:19 – Being Disciplined to Use BIFF
  • 35:25 – BIFF Certification
  • 36:29 – Reminders & Coming Next Week: Using BIFF at Work

Further Listening

Each week, Bill Eddy and Megan Hunter will be exploring the five types of people who can ruin your life — people with high conflict personalities — and how they weave themselves into our lives in romance, at work, next door, at school, places of worship, and just about everywhere, causing chaos, exhaustion, and dread for everyone else.

Bill Eddy, LCSW, Esq.

Bill Eddy is HCI’s co-founder and Chief Innovation Officer. He pioneered the High Conflict Personality Theory (HCP) and is viewed globally as the leading expert on managing disputes involving people with high conflict personalities.

Bill Zoom
Megan Zoom

Megan Hunter, MBA

Megan Hunter is HCI’s co-founder and Chief Executive Officer. Within her role at HCI, she also serves as a leading expert in high conflict personalities in all settings, focusing primarily on the workplace, customer service, government/public service, ombuds, and religious organizations. Her degrees in business and economics combined with her years of experience in the legal arena are a valuable blend for many conflict settings.

Bill Zoom

Bill Eddy, LCSW, Esq.

Bill Eddy is HCI’s co-founder and Chief Innovation Officer. He pioneered the High Conflict Personality Theory (HCP) and is viewed globally as the leading expert on managing disputes involving people with high conflict personalities.

Megan Zoom

Megan Hunter, MBA

Megan Hunter is HCI’s co-founder and Chief Executive Officer. Within her role at HCI, she also serves as a leading expert in high conflict personalities in all settings, focusing primarily on the workplace, customer service, government/public service, ombuds, and religious organizations. Her degrees in business and economics combined with her years of experience in the legal arena are a valuable blend for many conflict settings.