Using BIFF Responses

Bill Eddy and Megan Hunter talk about using BIFF Responses, which are responses to use when a High Conflict Person sends you a hostile communication via email, text, social media post, letter, or the like. Tune in to find out how to deal with these!

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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.

We’d love to hear your stories so we can talk through them on the show! Please visit our site and click the Submit a Question button at the top of the page. You can also send us an email at [email protected] or send us a note on any of our socials.

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Links & Other Notes

Note: We are not diagnosing anyone in our discussions, merely discussing patterns of behavior.

Episode Transcript

Megan Hunter: Welcome to It’s All Your Fault, the one and only podcast dedicated to helping you identify and deal with the most damaging humans, people with high-conflict personalities. I’m Megan Hunter, and I’m here with my co-host, Bill Eddy. In today’s episode, we are going to talk about those dreaded emails from HCPs, you know the kind that give you a zinger, and how to you use BIFF to respond to them. First, we have a few quick reminders. Here’s the deal, we want to hear from you. Have you dealt with a high-conflict situation, been blamed, experienced violence, or abuse from an HCP, or maybe you simply dread seeing that person again, but you probably have to tonight at home or tomorrow at work? Send us your questions and we just might discuss them on the show. You can submit them by clicking the submit a question button on our website at highconflictinstitute.com/podcast, emailing us at [email protected], or dropping us a note on any of our socials. You can find all the show notes and links at highconflictinstitute.com/podcast. Make sure you subscribe, rate and review, and please tell your friends about us. Telling just one person that you like the show and where they can find it, is best way you can help us out and help more people learn how to address high-conflict people. We appreciate you so very much. Now, on with the show. The impact of the written word, it can have the power to uplift or to destroy. It can’t be underestimated. If you’ve received a letter or an email, a text, a DM, social media post, anything like that, one that stung like a scorpion, you know the power that it can have. We call these hostile communications. What is a hostile communication? It usually contains blame and personal attacks. Something about you as a person, like your weight, your height, your education, your socioeconomic status, or maybe even your race. You read that email, your heart rate doubles, you either want to blast back or instantly delete and run. I’m sure you if you’ve received one of these, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Mostly you never want to hear from that person again. It was far less common pre-electric communication, but 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. Wars waged on screen with HCPs, which is how we are referenced for people with a high-conflict personality, and most people respond right away. We wonder, "Why do they do that? Why do we react? Why do we respond?" Mostly it’s because we think we need to defend ourselves. Someone’s attacked us. In this episode, we’ll focus on why we do that, why the HCP does that and how to do it differently using a BIFF response. We have a thousand examples, but here’s one between a brother and sister, Carlos and Maria. They’re emailing back and forth and Maria, the sister, receives this email from her brother, "Maria, you just don’t get it." Oh by the way, it’s in all caps and a lot of exclamation marks. "You have to help me out. It’s your responsibility as my sister and you know it. Families help each other out in times of need and I’m desperate now, really, really desperate. I don’t see how you can face yourself in the morning, knowing that I’m going to be living on the streets while you have your comfortable home. How can you say I don’t matter to you, that I’m just a spec in your universe. You’re so self-centered, Maria. I’m ashamed to have you for my sister. If you had any sense in your swelled head, you’d realize that there’s only one right thing to do. You have to let me live with you until I can get back on my feet. It’ll just be for a little while. Don’t be stupid about it. Just get over it and tell me when I can move stuff into your garage." Okay. Take a deep breath, right? That’s a hostile email, I think, but we have the expert here on hostile email and how to respond to them, Bill Eddy. Bill, you are the creator and inventor of BIFF. I know it’s become very popular around the world, really, so where did it come from? What is it? Tell us all about it.

Bill Eddy: Well, it started in 2007 and I was giving a seminar, which you helped organize. I’m speaking to about 20 family law professionals, lawyers, mediators, counselors, and two judges. In the middle of the seminar, one of the judges raises their hand and says, "What can we do about these horrible emails that divorce parents send to each other?" Well, I’d been a therapist for 12 years and by that point I’d been a lawyer for 15 years and so I’d gotten used to teaching my clients how to communicate, so I said, "Well, it needs to be brief, not very long at all. It needs to just be straight information and it needs to actually have a friendly tone, turn the hostile communication around, which you can do." They said, "Oh, that’s BIFF." I said, "Huh? Yeah. I guess so." They said, "Well, if you add another F, then it’s Biff the name like the guy in Back to The Future." Things like that. I said, "Well, the other F’s easier to be firm. It should end the hostile conversation. Doesn’t mean harsh, just end the conversation." After that, I got feedback that BIFF was the thing that people got the most out of that seminar, and they were going to go teach their clients and teach the people in court and all of that, this method. Well, I hadn’t thought of it as a method before, but it became a method. I wrote an article. We started teaching a lot of people about it. Now I’m thinking we probably taught about half a million people between our seminars and our books. That’s pretty much where it came from. The idea is by keeping it brief, informative, friendly and firm, that you don’t engage the other person’s amygdala. You don’t hook their brain. You keep it calm and you can really turn a conversation around. We designed it for high-conflict people, so if you’re responding to a high-conflict person, then this helps you stay calm because they often are coming at you with lots of blame, all-or-nothing thinking, unmanaged emotion, like you described in that email, bold, all caps, exclamation marks, and extreme behavior, because most people don’t communicate that way all the time.

Megan Hunter: It seems like a simple thing to do and we think that we’re all mature and responsible enough to avoid blasting back, but even sometimes we get hooked and we blast back and other times we think we need to defend ourselves, right? It can just be extraordinarily difficult, especially when we’re hooked emotionally with that amygdala, or as I like to call the amygdala, miggy. At this stage, when we’re in this reactive mode, it isn’t going to go well if we email back. Let’s talk about the brain here. What is happening in the HCP’s brain and then what’s happening in the receiver’s brain?

Bill Eddy: Well, what’s interesting, there’s like three aspects of the brain that seem to get involved here. We’re not brain scientists, but I read a lot of articles and go to seminars and trainings. One is the amygdala. The amygdala is kind of the smoke alarm. It just starts getting your attention and shuts down your thinking and wants you to fight, flee or hide. You hook the amygdala, you’re going to get that kind of real defensive response. Another thing that’s interesting is what we call mirror neurons. Mirror neurons scientists discovered maybe a dozen/15 years ago, that we tend to mirror the behavior of the people around us. If someone is coming at us angry, we’re going to also become angry. Now, sometimes we’ll become angry with that person against somebody else, or we become angry against that person. When you get a hostile email, you feel usually angry at the person that sent you the hostile email and you’re tempted to mirror what they’ve done. When you read … And I’ve been on court panels where a judge is reading emails and saying, "Which one’s the high-conflict parent?" They just sound like each other, but they both think the other looks bad and they look good. They’re mirroring each other. We got to overcome the amygdala response, overcome mirroring. It also seems like high-conflict people sometimes have a harder time in the brain connecting emotions, upset emotions and problem-solving, and so they have weaker connections in the brain for that. They go to upset rather than problem-solving. That’s why professionals and friends and family often need to step in and be the reasonable person to help them redirect. BIFF responses are a big place you can help friend, family member, clients, et cetera, redirect what they’re going to say. The brain wants to get defensive and fight back, but in the modern world, that’s not very successful, especially in an office or in a marriage. You want to find ways to be able to get along and BIFF seems to be one of the ways you can do that, especially because when you’re writing, you can pause an hour, maybe even 24 hours.

Megan Hunter: Yeah. That’s a good idea. I’ve heard some people suggest that it’s a fine idea to go ahead and respond, type it out, get it all out while you’re upset, but just don’t send it or send it to yourself and read it as the receiving person and see how that feels.

Bill Eddy: Right.

Megan Hunter: I think that’s a pretty good tip. Now, knowing how to respond is vital, but knowing when to respond is equally important. I think most people know when to respond in most circumstances until it comes to high-conflict people. They ask themselves, "Should I respond? Am I supposed to respond? Do I ignore this? If I ignore it, will the conflict and attacks increase?" I guess the question, Bill, is, should we respond to HCPs every time we get one of these hostile messages, whether it’s a DM, a text, an email? Do we respond and do we do it with a BIFF?

Bill Eddy: You want to always do it with a BIFF, if you respond. I suggest that rather than not responding, in many situations, a short BIFF … And usually BIFF responses are a paragraph, three, four, five sentences and that’s sufficient. That a BIFF response tends to calm the other person a little bit more than no response. With that said, some high-conflict people, you send them a good BIFF response and then they come back again and say, "But, and they say the same thing again." I consult with a lot of people. I was just speaking with someone this week saying, "I’m tired of responding all the time." I said, "You don’t have to do that. What you can do is do your first response, first BIFF response, explain your point of view on the issue. If they come back again, say, ‘I’ve said everything I was going to say on this issue in yesterday’s email.’" That’s briefer. Then the next time they send something don’t respond at all, because you’ve already said where it was addressed and that that was all you were going to say on that issue. You diminish your response rather than no response or constant response.

Megan Hunter: Yeah. I can think of an example of this in my own life at a point where I was on a board of directors. I was nominated to be the president that year, mostly because everyone else had already done it, so I was the next victim to run the board in a big conference. Someone else had nominated themselves to be president, but we knew this person was going really struggle in that role. That’s basically why the board came to me and said, "Please let us nominate you so that we don’t have a disaster next year." I said, "Okay. But somebody has to tell this other person that I’m being put up for this." Well, it turns out no one did. The first time that they received word about me being put up for president was when the email was sent saying that I was the new president. That the board had voted me in. You can imagine with anyone, they might be upset, but when the person has a high-conflict personality, they’re going to feel extremely upset in that moment, right? Let’s say they have a basic fear of feeling inferior or maybe abandoned and they really need to feel connected. An email like that is going to make them feel those fears. What’s going to be the results? There’s going to be a huge reaction. That’s exactly what happened here. This person emailed everyone on that board of directors and within, I don’t know, 20 minutes probably left voicemails, text messages, emails, and just in a complete high-conflict brainstorm, I guess, is what I would call it. Accusing, blaming, dropping F-bombs, hurling insults. It was just really horrible. I didn’t get one. I did not get an email or a voicemail until a day later. It was not a blast, but there were some digs in there and I knew that I needed to respond, number one, but I wasn’t quite sure how to do it. I basically took your path, Bill, your recommendation to just kind of … Well, definitely BIFF it. I didn’t know about BIFF at the time, but I did my best attempt and I did get that second email back. I ignored all the digs and the nuances and undermining and just focused on the facts and kept it friendly. I did get that second email and I did exactly what you said. I just said, "Hey, everything I wanted to say was in that first email and look forward to seeing you at the next board meeting." It calmed the person down. I think if we can see these high-conflict interactions in terms of for them it’s a temporary reactive moment. They’re very upset and we tend to take it personally. How, Bill, do we not take it personally?

Bill Eddy: Well, I think it helps to have a few phrases you remind yourself of, and the one I’m constantly reminding myself of when I’m dealing with high-conflict people in situations is, "Bill, it’s not about you. It’s really not about you." They have a problem and usually I’m in a professional role and it’s like my job is to help them. I don’t have to prove anything to them. If they’ve written something angry at me, and I get my fair share of hostile emails in this business, then I can pause and write back and just focus on the information. So, "Thank you for letting me know your concerns. You may not be aware of such and such piece of information. I hope you find that helpful." Like you said, "See you at the next meeting or have a pleasant weekend." Or whatever fits the situation, so it’s brief, informative, friendly, and firm.

Megan Hunter: Very structured. I know you have three As as well. What are the three As that go along with BIFF?

Bill Eddy: Yeah. If you’ve written something and you’re looking at it and go, "Is this going to be a BIFF response, or is this going to get me into trouble?" The three As are good to ask yourself. The first is, does it include any advice? Because that’s not usually what someone’s asking for when they send you a hostile email and when you give them advice, you’re going to increase their hostility instead of decreasing it. I must add that where I see that happen the most is emails between parents of adult children and their adult children’s response, so, "Johnny, let me give you some advice." "Mom, let me give you some advice." It doesn’t work well either way, so just forget about that.

Megan Hunter: You’re singing to the choir here. I’ve been in that situation a couple of times.

Bill Eddy: Yeah. Then admonishments, that’s second A. Is admonishments are talking down to somebody is say, "Let me tell you, buddy, you should never do this or you should have reread the contract, or you should have not done such and such." Admonishments make you feel like you’re being treated like a child and no one likes that, and that’s going to make, especially a high-conflict person become more or high conflict. The third A is a surprise and that’s apologies. You don’t want to include apologies in your written BIFF response and especially if you’re dealing with a high-conflict person. If you remember the beginning, I said they have a lot of all-or-nothing thinking. If you apologize for something very small like, "I’m sorry, I was five minutes late." Something like that, then they’re going to hear that you agree it’s all your fault. That the whole thing is all your fault. You put this in writing. I once did a mediation that there was domestic violence perpetrator and their victim survivor and they both agreed they could be together in the mediation and they were managing quite well. I have a bunch of rules for that to make it work. At one point, the guy pulls out a crumpled up piece of paper and he says, "Remember when you told me it was all your fault. Remember it says right here, ‘I’m sorry I don’t clean well enough. I’m sorry I don’t cook better.’" It’s like, there was no need for that to ever have been written. You could tell that she was trying to calm him down through those apologies. Well, instead, it gave him an ammunition and so he brings that. You could see it was probably more than a year old and it was well-worn so I’m sure he held it up to her several times. You don’t want to put apologies in. There may be a structured setting for that somewhere else, but don’t put that in writing in a BIFF response. Those are the three As to double-check what you’ve written.

Megan Hunter: It’s really interesting as you and I have trained thousands of people all over the world and we teach BIFF everywhere we go and people get hung up on this apology piece. Particularly in countries like Canada and Australia, where I’m sorry is one of the first things they will say. The way I’ve explained it is, if you’ve done something wrong, then it’s okay to apologize. Would you agree with that, Bill? I mean, if you’ve really, truly done something horrible, as opposed to just apologizing out of anxiety, your own anxiety, to calm the other person down.

Bill Eddy: It’s tricky. Practically speaking, I recommend you don’t put the word sorry in a BIFF response at all. If you’ve done something wrong and you’re willing to admit it, I suggest you do it verbally, because once you’ve put it in writing, it gets used for all kinds of other purposes. One thing too, is people use that word like, I’m sorry to see you’re in this situation, and what I’ve changed too now is I say, "I’m saddened to see." Because that’s really what it is. I’m saddened to see you’re in this situation. Because if I say, "I’m sorry, you’re in this situation," they’re going to say, "Yeah, Bill, and it’s your fault. You should have last year done these 10 things then I wouldn’t be in this situation." It’s like, oops. So I’m saddened to be in this situation. It’s interesting you mention Canadians and Australians, because we both teach in those countries as well as all over the U.S.. I find that they’re pretty open to the idea that maybe apologies in BIFF responses aren’t a good idea. They still say, "Sorry?" If they didn’t hear you and things like that, but they do agree that it will help and so I think it’s amazingly international the way you can apply this, because we all have the same human brain. The idea is we want to focus on problem-solving rather than triggering defensiveness unnecessarily.

Megan Hunter: By saying saddened, I really like that, instead of sorry is you’re extending empathy, which is what their brain craves. Right there, you have a win instead of in using I’m sorry you give them a win in their mind and it just keeps the conflict going.

Bill Eddy: Absolutely. What you’re really trying to do is put a close to the conflict and that’s the firm, the last F. Just have it be over. Most of the best BIFF responses don’t get a response after that. I’ve helped people deal with hostile siblings, hostile exes, et cetera, with a good BIFF response and I’ve even had people attack me. I give them a BIFF response. I remember this one guy he writes back. He says, "Thank you so much. I get it. I was stressed and I won’t bother you again." That’s what you like to get back so you know the conflict is subsided.

Megan Hunter: As a divorce attorney you’ve seen the stacks of printed emails that clients bring in and the long strings of back and forth texts between parents in these high-conflict cases where it’s pretty typical in high-conflict divorce. We also see it increasingly in the workplace, especially in organizations without solid communication policies. I work with companies in a consulting and training capacity who are really stretched very thin. There’s never enough hours in the day to get the work done and yet they’ll spend hours and hours in meetings over one single email response. First there’ll be a meeting with a manager to address that email. Then the department head is copied in, or maybe even the CEO, then an HR is brought in or a union rep. There’s meetings and meetings and more meetings. They’re already stretched so thin and can’t get the work done and yet they’re spending all this time in meetings because they didn’t know about BIFF. What ultimately that does is it destroys a company’s competitive advantage. It’s a hit to productivity, morale and time. These are really communication strategies that companies really need to have. If they don’t have them, it keeps people at war and keeps draining the war coffers, I guess. Let’s give an example here of how to use BIFF using the email between the brother and sister that we talked about a few minutes ago, Carlos and Maria. He’s shamed and blamed her. Let me read it quickly again, and then, Bill, if you will BIFF it, that’d be fantastic. "Maria, you just don’t get it. You have to help me out. It’s your responsibility as my sister and you know it. Families help each other out in times of need and I’m desperate now, really, really desperate. I don’t see how you can face yourself in the morning, knowing that I’m going to be living on the streets while you have your comfortable home. How can you say I don’t matter to you, that I’m just a spec in your universe? You’re so self-centered, Maria. I’m ashamed to have you for my sister. If you had any sense in your swelled head, you’d realize that there’s only one right thing to do. You have to let me live with you. It’ll just be for a little while until I get on my feet. Don’t be stupid about it. Just get over it and tell me when I can move stuff into your garage."

Bill Eddy: First of all, there’s a temptation to want to say, "Wait a minute, I never said that you’re just a spec in my universe and I never said this and this and this." That’s the temptation, but let’s see if this works, and that could be something she wrote out the first time. Remember, you just want a paragraph and that’s it. Let’s see if this sounds like a BIFF response. "Hi, Carlos, I got your email. I was thinking you should get a newspaper or go online and make a list of the rental homes in your area. Do you think you’d rather live with a roommate during this transition or get a smaller place on your own? If you want to show me the list, I can help you make some phone calls." The history here you can probably tell, is he’s very demanding. He’s got a lot of chaos in his life. He’s losing where he lives and apparently it has to do with his own behavior and as you said earlier, he doesn’t connect the dots from his own behavior to what’s happening to him. Here’s brother and sister who’ve had a lot of years as adults and he’s trying to depend on her in a way that she’s burned out on. Rather than saying, "Sure. Move in with me, bring all your stuff." And all of that, is she’s really setting limits, but she’s doing it brief, so that was a paragraph, straight information focused on … And she’s used to focusing him because he doesn’t focus himself. Focus him on getting lists and she’ll help look at the list so she’ll help. She’s a good sister. The problem is she’s been too good of a sister and she’s done too much taking care of him and she’s trying to set limits. This example comes up all the time. I get this. I give a workplace training and somebody comes up and they say, "This is interesting, but I’m going to use this with my brother." Because that’s where it’s really difficult. It’s brief. It’s straight information. It’s friendly. She doesn’t get hooked at all by all the terrible things he’s saying about her. Saying she’s a horrible person and can I move in with you? It’s firm. It’s like, that’s all she’s discussing. Now you notice she doesn’t have to say, "No, you can’t live with me." That’s implied in her paragraph. She’s focusing on the positive on what to do. This is a subtle thing but when you focus on the negative and that you’re saying no, and what you’re saying no to, that often triggers a high-conflict person into overdrive and so now they’re even more angry with you. Rather than emphasizing no, is emphasize what you’re going to do, which makes it clear that she’s not having him live with her. I personally think that’s a good BIFF response.

Megan Hunter: Well, I like that. What you’ve taught me is that is it’s either a BIFF or it’s not. I’ve learned to BIFF it once and then BIFF it again. If you still feel like there might be a little bit of a zinger in there, because sometimes we all can be a little hooked emotionally, then have a colleague or friend or someone who’s not involved in the situation BIFF it again for you, because they don’t even have to know about BIFF, but they’ll read it and they’ll get it. They’ll see where that emotion is.

Bill Eddy: Yeah. Actually it is a good time for me to mention. Recently I saw a lawyer at a conference who taught his client, divorce client, to use the BIFF method. He said she’s been writing with that method for six months and the hostile ex is now writing back in the BIFF format and he doesn’t even know it’s a method. It is contagious, may be six months, but hey, if you can calm down a high-conflict divorce, that’s worth a lot any day.

Megan Hunter: Oh, yeah. Don’t you know it? It’s a whole industry basically. People that have to deal with high-conflict communications in a divorce, co-parenting situation. They just feel trapped. They feel like they’re hostage to these communications, and when they find BIFF, it just gives them a structure and really brings calm and peace into the situation. I have a little example here. This is between co-parents, "When I got Kaylin today …" Kaylin’s the child. "He had an ear infection and needed to be taken to the doctor. The doctor said it was obvious that he got sick at your house over the weekend and YOU DID NOTHING ABOUT IT. He prescribed antibiotics, which you will need to make sure he takes twice a day in his ear. I am sending the bottle with him to school tomorrow so make sure he has it in his backpack when you pick him up. Once again, you have been irresponsible about Kaylin’s healthcare and I have to clean up after your irresponsibility. I will discuss this with my lawyer and decide whether to return to court to reduce your parenting time for the health and safety of my son." All right. Is it hostile? I’d say there’s a little blame, a little all or nothing, some unmanaged emotions and some extreme solutions. Let’s try a BIFF response. "Thank you for taking Kaylin to the doctor. I will follow the directions for his medication. I was not irresponsible with Kaylin and he had no signs of an ear infection while with me. As you may know, those symptoms can come on very quickly. I am fairly sure the doctor did not tell you that he obviously got this ear infection while with me. I will keep you advised of OUR SON’S condition while he is with me." With the OUR SON’S capitalized. Is this a BIFF response? Is it brief? Well that’s one, two, three, four, five, six sentences. Eh, it’s close. Yeah. Would you say, Bill?

Bill Eddy: Yeah close. There’s a couple of other things in there though.

Megan Hunter: Okay. Let’s talk about those. Is it informative, friendly and firm?

Bill Eddy: Somewhat. But it-

Megan Hunter: Where do you see problems?

Bill Eddy: It says more … With informative you don’t want it to be defensive, justifying emotional opinions, et cetera. Just straight information. There’s some defensiveness in there that I was not irresponsible. That’s emphasizing the negative. That’s going to escalate things, and it’s not friendly. It’s a little bit hostile there back. It’s understandable, but it’s not really a BIFF. I think those need to be revised.

Megan Hunter: That’s a BIFF fail, but not a complete fail. Let’s try to BIFF it again, "Thank you for taking Kaylin to the doctor. I will follow the directions for his medication. He had no signs of an ear infection while with me. As you may know, those symptoms can come on very quickly. I will keep you advised of Kaylin’s condition while he is with me."

Bill Eddy: There you go. What’s that? Four sentences.

Megan Hunter: Yep. One, two, three, four.

Bill Eddy: That sounds good. It’s brief. It’s just straight information. No symptoms when he was with me. You don’t have to say, "I was not irresponsible." Just say … It’s like, "For your information." If you can think of the phrase for your information before each sentence, you don’t have to write that, but if you think of that, that keeps it just straight information. It’s friendly tone. I’ll let you know how he does and it’s firm, it ends the issue. There’s no need to discuss it further.

Megan Hunter: Right. No advice, no apologies, no admonishments. With that, it takes just a minute to BIFF yourself, right? With that, you can save yourself so much grief and headache. I guess the main thing is really for the receiving party to be disciplined. You have to be disciplined to use BIFF until it becomes a matter of practice. It will become very normal once you feel the benefit from it because it is very, very empowering and people who use this have a major change in their lives.

Bill Eddy: Exactly. I want to quickly mention, I gave a training once to 1,100 people for the district attorney’s office in San Diego. I knew the district attorney. About a week afterwards, I checked in and said, "How’s it going?" He said, "Great. Now when there’s a problem, someone says, ‘You need to BIFF them.’ And everybody knows what they mean." You got 1,100 people writing BIFF responses, it really can calm down an office and they can calm down all the upset people that they’re dealing with in the community, which really helps.

Megan Hunter: Nice segue by the way, to something we’ve just started recently at High Conflict Institute, which is BIFF certification. It really has come about because of working with companies that continue to have these hostile communications that suck up so much time and energy and cost so much stress and conflict. Now we’ve started teaching an entire organization to how to BIFF and have them pass a BIFF proficiency and make it a matter of policy within an organization, a communication policy. It can radically, radically transform communications. There was a day … I mean, I remember hearing you years ago, Bill, say that everyone needs to learn to BIFF. I remember the day that that became just so powerful for me as I was working with a particular organization and I thought, "If everyone in this company would just BIFF, they would completely turn around." We’re working toward that direction with them. Anyway, all right. That is BIFF and we’ll be talking a lot about BIFF in coming episodes. It’s necessary when responding to high-conflict people in particular, but it works with everyone. Try it out. Bill has written three BIFF books in his conflict communication series. In this episode we focused on family and divorce type of communications. In the next episode, we’ll be talking about HCPs in the workplace and how to use BIFF at work. In fact, that’s the title of one of the books. BIFF at Work. Until then, best wishes in all your conflict situations. That was it. We hope you enjoyed this episode. Thanks for listening through to the end. We hope that something in this episode helps you connect the dots about high-conflict people and find the missing piece. We want to leave you with two simple reminders. One, when dealing with HCPs, do the opposite of what you feel like doing and what you’re used to doing with everyone else. Two, please don’t tell anyone you think they’re high conflict or have a high-conflict personality. It won’t go well for either of you. Hang in there. See you next time on It’s All Your Fault. It’s All Your Fault is a production of TruStory FM. Engineering by Andy Nelson, music by Wolf Samuels, John Coggins, and Ziv Moran. Find the show, show notes and transcripts at trustory.fm or highconflictinstitute.com/podcast. If your podcast app allows ratings and reviews, please consider doing that for our show.

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.