It's All Your Fault - At Work!

In keeping with this month's theme, bullying, here's a republish of an article I wrote in 2012 about dealing with bullies at work. It's still very much timely a year later... © 2012 by Bill Eddy

Have you noticed more people engaging in “high conflict” behavior these days at work? A customer in a store yells loudly at a storeowner or clerk. Someone spits at an officer writing a parking ticket. A co-worker sends nasty emails out to the whole department. An employee threatens to hit a co-worker, then claims it was just a joke. A supervisor bullies an employee after the supervisor makes a mistake.

This behavior is considered “high conflict” because it increases conflict instead of reducing or resolving it. This can catch you by surprise, especially when it is done by someone who seemed reasonable at first. Most people with these types of extreme behaviors have a repeated pattern of high-conflict behavior. It’s part of who they are. They didn’t just make a mistake or act out of the blue – they have done this before and will do it again.

We think of them as “high conflict” people (HCPs). They aren’t just difficult. They’re the most difficult people, because their pattern includes the following:

4 Key Characteristics of HCPs:

Preoccupied with Blaming Others – they unconsciously put a spin on how they view other people, the world and problems. They exaggerate the negative or the positive – then switch to negative when others don’t turn out to be as unrealistically positive as they thought. They take things personally that aren’t, then they attack back. Their emotions interfere with their logical thinking and they believe these thinking distortions about other people without question – and blame them for everything.

All or Nothing Thinking – they tend to try to control relationships or avoid them. They see others as all-good or all-bad. Therefore, their relationships are often unrealistic and a frequent crisis for them. They generally want to be secure, but they undermine themselves on a regular basis causing relationship insecurity without even realizing why. They often look to fulfill their intense personal relationship needs at work, where it’s very unlikely they can be met.

Unmanaged Emotions – they tend to react emotionally and to focus backwards on the past. Looking to the future is hard for them because they are so emotionally absorbed in their emotional reactions. They are preoccupied with arguing over who caused the problem, rather than analyzing it and looking at options for fixing it. (Be aware that some of them don’t show their emotional upsets, but become silently preoccupied with getting revenge or vindication.)

Extreme Behavior – they tend to become more extreme in their behavior when things go badly, rather than backing off and trying a different approach. They don’t connect their problems to what they are doing, click here to read full article.


About Bill Eddy 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: