The BIFF Response(SM) Method In Professional Settings

biff imgExcerpted from BIFF: Quick Responses to High Conflict People, Their Personal Attacks, Hostile Emails and Social Media Meltdowns


A Client-Attorney Example

For many years, divorce mediation has been a growing alternative to going to court to get divorced. One experienced mediator received the following email from an unhappy client:

Dear Sir:

You met with us on Sept. 9th for our divorce mediation and we scheduled another meeting for Sept. 23rd. We are now cancelling that meeting, because both my wife and I (and my attorney) believe that you did not handle our mediation properly. We accomplished nothing in our first meeting. I paid for the mediation and I would like my money back. Please respond promptly. We have found another mediator who does it correctly.

            Sincerely, Disgruntled Client

The mediator was surprised. He’d never received such a letter before. He recalled that this was a client who came late, took calls on his cell phone and made several blaming comments toward his wife. The mediator was tempted to say this in a reply. Should he? How would you handle it?

Complaints happen and most of them can be handled with integrity and reasonableness. However, more and more often your client, customer or your paid professional might be a High-Conflict Person. HCP’s are expert at blaming others for their problems and in the professional world, they frequently do it in writing. They’ll send copies to state agencies, department heads and anyone else they think they can get on their side as a negative advocate.

  • Your client just said: “You don’t know what you are talking about! I don’t see how you ever got to be a therapist / doctor / lawyer / consultant.”
  • If you get a response at all, your attorney’s letters are rude and antagonistic, and ignore how you’d like the case to be handled.biff
  • Client X just blasted you in an email and he sent it to the State Review Board demanding your license be revoked.
  • You get caught up in a never-ending stream of emails with a certain client who never listens to your advice and gets irate when you bill for your time.
  • You have a client in a nasty divorce and he/she is being bombarded with hateful texts from the ex that exhaust both of you.
  • A colleague just tipped you off to a scathing online “review” of your services posted by an anonymous former client.
  • Your consultant made a costly mistake and you just got her email making excuses and blaming you for it.

These are just a few of the situations where you might find a High-Conflict Person, or be an HCP’s target of blame. Chances are, it’s happened before, and it will happen again. Do you know how to respond?

BIFF Responses are specifically designed to help you respond to written hostilities, but it can also be used in person-to-person verbal confrontations. BIFF is Brief, Informative, Friendly, and Firm (don’t let the friendly part fool you). It’s a simple set of tools that’s quick and effective in dealing with today’s High-Conflict communications, and we price it to be affordable to everyone. Check out our products, services and trainings for more information and contact us with questions or comments.

Related Article: When Helping Hurts - How Professionals Become Negative Advocates - Or Not

High Conflict People In Legal Disputes

hcpEverybody knows someone with a High Conflict Personality (HCP). "How can he be so unreasonable? So totally rigid and self-centered?" Why does she keep fighting so much? Can't she see how destructive she is?" "Can you believe they're going to court over ________?" (You fill in the blank).This book helps make sense of the fears that drive conflict and drive people to file lawsuits, complaints and wreak havoc for legal professionals and the general public alike.

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