Today, I want to talk to you about how to communicate with high-conflict people. High conflict people love to argue. Their emotions are intense. If you dare to have an opinion, that differs from theirs, they can explode in extreme rage and anger. They often blame everyone for all of their problems and they engage in all or nothing thinking – you’re either all good or you’re all bad.
The fact is today, we live in a world where we encounter high-conflict people every day. We may come across them in our jobs. We come across them on the road and sometimes these high-conflict people live in our homes. I learned the strategies that I’m going to share with you today from psychologist and lawyer, Bill Eddie. He has some great insight into dealing with high conflict personalities, and those people that just have a knack for making you feel like you’ve done something wrong.
The natural tendency, when you’re having an altercation or interaction with a high-conflict person is often to apologize. You try to diffuse the situation by saying sorry. But when you’re in a situation with a high-conflict person, an apology can make it worse. They can take your apology as if you are admitting guilt, and then they’re just going to pile on the blame that much more.
Don’t get defensive
Another natural tendency when dealing with a reactive person is to get defensive. Maybe, you think, if you can just explain the situation, they’ll understand why you did what you did, But that won’t work either.
Don’t argue back
And finally, another natural tendency in such situations is to try and argue back. It just doesn’t matter how well you can argue or stand up for yourself, you’re never going to outdo a high-conflict person. You’ll just end up in an endless cycle that you will rarely ever win.
Do keep it short and friendly
When you’re interacting with a high-conflict person, and things start to get heated, the first thing you need to do and stop and ask, do I really need to respond to this?
A lot of times they’re blaming and accusations are just so ridiculous that a response is not even warranted. But sometimes you might need to correct or share information. You want to be able to do so without this conflict-loving person escalating every conversation, email, or text into a full-out fight.
So when you are in that situation, I want you to remember Bill’s great advice. Keep it short. The less you say the better. Stick to the information. Only. This is not the time to be arguing or advising them or admonishing them and telling them everything they did wrong. Just tell them the facts and keep it friendly.
I know this can be hard to do in the heat of the moment, but it’s important.
Do be firm
And finally, be firm in your communication. You’ve got to set your boundaries and you’ve got to stand by them. Don’t let somebody run all over you. I wish I had a magic wand that would turn all the high-conflict people, into pleasant, easy-to-get-along with people but I don’t. But what I do have is a couple of videos with experts regarding high-conflict relationships. I invite you to view, High Conflict Personalities and Divorce and High-Conflict Personalities.