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Effective Communication with a High Conflict Person In Your Family Matter

February 24, 2019



Have you been the recipient of angry tests, nasty emails, and ugly outbursts in public?   Has your ex said nasty things about you on a social media site?   Has the parent of your child said bad things about you?  Have the things said made you angry, embarrassed, humiliated, or infuriated?   Have you reacted and then perhaps regretted your reaction.  Have you found yourself in a hearing with the threat that nasty texts between you and your partner were going to be presented to a judge?      In our family law practice we come across all kinds of situations and people.  The cases that present the most conflict, however,  often involve one party who seems to thrive on hostilities.   Our philosophy is to minimize conflict.    Our goal is to reduce the anger and angst of family matters,  so when a case presents with communication difficulties between the parties—especially  unkind, nasty,  accusatory messages–  we seek out ways to help clients learn skills to deal with  the high conflict people who  engage them and the attendant situations.  Thus, we are sharing the BIFF  Response Method of Conflict Resolution here.

According to Bill A. Eddy,   of  the High Conflict Institute of San Diego, California,   “high conflict people attack you verbally, by email, and by text, and they cause havoc on social media sites.  They never seem happy and they don’t get the facts straight.  They file lawsuits and make complaints against co-workers, neighbors, friends and family.  They cost a lot of time, energy and money.  Worse, high conflict people try to convince everyone that it’s all YOUR fault.”  Does this sound like a situation you have encountered?   Do you have a high conflict person in your life, or in your case? Continue reading.

BIFF stands for Brief, Informative, Friendly, Firm.   It is a way to respond to people and situations that normally would “get your goat.”   It sounds simple,  but it takes learning and practice.  The BIFF Response Method is taught at the High Conflict Institute as a way to  “respond” rather than “react” to personal attack.   Once learned, it can be applied in almost any communication, in a text, an email, and in person.   It is useful in all settings,  family, business, with friends…with any person who can otherwise cause havoc in your life if you let them.   In our family law cases, we counsel  clients to keep communications friendly and not to engage in nasty back and forth exchanges.    We advise that the less written words the better, and that civility in all communications is critical.     However, when in the heat of the moment,  we know how hard it may be  not to react  or “take the bait.   This is why we  recommend B.I.F.F. as a extra tool in the communication toolbox to help through the hard times of divorce, custody,  and support.    The teachers of this method claim it can help you bring almost any angry exchange to a quick conclusion, without losing yourself.

To learn more about the BIFF Response visit

To speak with an attorney  at Bookspan Family Law, LLC about a conflict in your family law matter, call us at 610 565-6200

Parts of this article originally were posted on the High Conflict Resolution Institute website and are reprinted  here with permission.