Excerpt: BIFF—Quick Responses to High Conflict People

Oh, Brother!

Many families worldwide have an HCP who still depends on other family members as an adult to solve their routine personal problems – and angrily blames them when they don’t do it the way the HCP wants. I’m not talking about helping out a family member with a temporary financial or relationship problem. I’m talking about an HCP who drains their family for decades, before family members figure out how to set limits without making things worse. Using B.I.F.F. responses can be part of managing this type of family problem.

The following example is drawn from chapter 5 of It’s All Your Fault! Maria’s younger brother, Carlos, has been difficult his whole life. Now he has been fired from another job and lost his house. He wants Maria to deal with it and fix it for him, once again. She has been successful in her own life, but is exhausted trying to help him out. Yet she feels guilty if she doesn’t.

“Either you’re with me or you’re against me!” Carlos, age 38, screamed into the telephone at his sister, Maria, age 42. “People listen to you,” he said. “It’s all your fault I lost my job! You should have talked to my boss and helped clear up his false impressions of me, like I asked you to.”

“Carlos, you’re responsible for your own life. I can’t fix every problem you get yourself into. It’s not my fault. It’s your fault. It’s your life and your responsibility,” Maria replied.

“See how you talk to me!” Carlos replied angrily. “It’s true you never cared about me or what happened to me. You never wanted a younger brother.”

“That’s not true, and you know it!” Maria responded in exasperation.

Carlos continued, “So, since I’m losing my job, I’m also losing my house. You have to let me stay with you, again. If you’d helped me keep my job, this wouldn’t be your problem. But now it is your problem, and you have to fix it. So starting on the first of the month, I’ll be moving in again.”

“Don’t try to blame me for this, Carlos.” she replied. “And you’re not moving in with me again.”



About Bill Eddy William A. (“Bill”) Eddy, L.C.S.W., J.D. is a family law attorney, therapist and mediator, with over thirty years’ experience working with children and families.  He is the Senior Family Mediator at the National Conflict Resolution Center in San Diego, California.  He is also the President of the High Conflict Institute, which provides speakers, trainers and consultants on the subject of managing high-conflict people in legal disputes, workplace disputes, healthcare and education.  He has taught Negotiation and Mediation at the University of San Diego School of Law and he teaches Psychology of Conflict at the Strauss Institute for Dispute Resolution at Pepperdine University School of Law.  He is the author of several books, including:

Splitting: Protecting Yourself While Divorcing Someone with Borderline or Narcissistic Personality Disorder

BIFF: Quick Responses to High Conflict People, Their Personal Attacks, Hostile Email and Social Media Meltdowns

It’s All Your Fault! 12 Tips for Managing People Who Blame Others for Everything

For more information about Bill Eddy, please visit: www.HighConflictInstitute.com.