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Entries in hostile communication (1)


Quick responses to high conflict people

Although the title suggests an unduly physical approach to this issue, Bill Eddy's book is actually a great introduction to resolving conflicts.  Email and social media are major communication channels and we need to find ways to resolve some of the problems caused by such instant processes. 

BIFF stands from Brief, Informative, Friendly and Firm.  This is the suggested approach for responding to the sort of personal attacking messages that will be very familiar to people involved in hostile relationship breakdowns.

This method should work whether the person you are responding to is suffering from a personality disorder or is simply unduly aggressive.  Personality disorders are discussed right at the start of the book as they are often the cause for angry communication, but the method Bill Eddy describes should work whether or not such a disorder is present. 

He stresses that you shouldn't try diagnosing or telling the person that you think their behaviour is dysfunctional. Keep your theory to yourself - just concentrate on using the BIFF techniques to deal with conversations that will otherwise escalate out of control.  When you receive a hostile message that blames you for everything, the instinctive reaction is to hit back. 

This book suggests how a far more effective response can be made, aiming to close down the issue and gives examples from various situations including family disputes. These responses may not always solve the problem but they are far less likely to escalate matters when dealing with high conflict people.