When to Respond with a BIFF? In general, it’s best to respond quickly. Here's why...

© 2011 By Bill Eddy, LCSW, Esq.

HCPs tend to believe that you agree with their opinions of you unless you quickly disagree. Unfortunately, silence means consent in their defensive ways of thinking.

HCPs often tell other people about all the bad things that you have “done” in their minds. If other people don’t hear that you disagree, then the HCP’s comments are assumed to be true by the other people.

HCPs’ Blamespeak is so extremely blaming and emotionally intense that their statements sound and feel true – even when they are not. (Emotions are contagious and intense emotions are intensely contagious.) So their emotions often persuade others that you are acting very badly and that the HCP is a victim, unless you can quickly inform them with factual information that distracts and counters the emotions. 

For example:

HCP: “He never responded to my request. I was left hanging for weeks and it cost me a lot.”

This statement isn’t true because he did respond. But it sounds true – and influences the listener’s opinion of the target of the blame. If you don’t respond quickly, it becomes a given fact and opinions become established about you and your organization.

Many people in positions of authority, including businesses, government agencies and politicians, often make the mistake of assuming that people will not take Blamespeak seriously, so they don’t respond or wait much too long. It’s easy to find examples of this on a regular basis in the news.

HCP: “She never lets me spend time with my daughter.”

This statement isn’t true, but it sounds true. In close relationships (or previously close relationships), you’re a jerk until proven innocent. If you don’t respond, it must mean it’s true.

Bill Eddy is a lawyer, therapist, and mediator. He is the co-founder and Training Director of the High Conflict Institute, a training and consultation firm that trains professionals to deal with high conflict people and situations. He is the author of several books and methods for handling high conflict personalities and high conflict disputes with the most difficult people.