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196 - Bill Eddy and BIFF for CoParent Communication

196 - Bill Eddy and BIFF for CoParent Communication Image

04/08/2021 12:00 pm

Author Bill Eddy came back on the show to talk about his new book, BIFF for CoParent Communication. (BIFF stands for Brief, Informative, Friendly, and Firm) At the time of recording the show, it was number 1 on Amazon under "Divorce & Separation Family Law." Apart from being an author and speaker, Bill Eddy is a lawyer, counselor, and mediator. He started the High Conflict Institute and has written and co-authored sixteen books as of 2020.

There are some parents that have high conflict personalities. Not only are they difficult to deal with on a normal basis, they make your co-parenting life a living hell, especially when you do not know how to communicate with them. In his informative and practical new book, Bill Eddy and his co-author, Kevin Chafin, give you practical advice on how to handle a high conflict co-parent and what you can do to improve your communication with that person.

Transcript

Leh Meriwether: Welcome everyone. I'm Leh Meriwether, and with me is Todd Orston. We are your co-hosts for Divorce Team Radio, a show sponsored by the divorce and family law firm of Meriwether and Tharp. Here you'll learn about divorce, family law, and from time to time even tips on how to save your marriage if it's in the middle of a crisis. If you want to read more about us, you can always check us out online, atlantadivorceteam.com. Well, Todd, I don't think I've said this in a while, but I'm actually really excited about this show.

Todd Orston: Yeah. I hate when you lie on air. You say it quite often, but how about this? I'm incredibly excited about this show as well.

Leh Meriwether: Hey, because it won't be just us talking today and not only is it not just us talking today, well actually, I can't talk today apparently, I think I'm just so excited. That's why I can't talk. We have an amazing author and he's not just an author, he's a lawyer, a therapist, a mediator. He has actually authored 20 plus books. He's the co-founder and chief innovation officer of the High Conflict Institute. He developed the high conflict personality, HCP theory, and has become an international expert on managing disputes involving high conflict personalities and personality disorders. He developed the new ways for families, new ways for work and new ways for mediation methods for handling divorce, workplace and mediation disputes. Psychology Today blog has over four million views. His websites are highconflictinstitute.com, conflictplaybook.com, and what he's on this show to talk about today, his new book, that he co-authored, called BIFF for Co-Parent Communication: Your Guide to Difficult Texts, Emails, and Social Media Posts. Bill Eddy, thanks so much for coming on the show.

Bill Eddy: My pleasure. I'm glad to be on Leh. Glad to be on with you too, Todd.

Todd Orston: Thank you.

Leh Meriwether: I've read your book, your most recent book and like your others, it's fantastic. I love how you decided to take this concept and if you've never heard the Biff concept, Bill's going to explain it later. We've, and I know Bill in the past... some of our other shows we've actually referenced your method, the BIFF method, and even though I had known about it before, I actually learned even more from this book, because it's focused just on co-parents dealing with high conflict personalities or high conflict people HCPs, and I love how you took that concept and applied it to co-parenting. You were really specific in that you gave examples of some of the highest conflict areas, like how to deal with parenting schedule changes and finances and extracurricular activities, what was the other one? School. You and your co-authors gave very specific examples and it's a very practical book.

I'm stumbling over my words, just because there's so much information in my head right now from reading it. I feel like I got to spill it all out right now, but I know I don't have. Before we get started with the BIFF itself, I know you have a... and you had it in your book. There was a little explanation of where you came up with this and I love how you were very humble and how you presented it because you were, allow me to take away your story, because you actually didn't come up with this completely on your own, you had a little bit of help from your audience one day. Tell us the story of how you came up with the BIFF method.

Bill Eddy: Sure. And it's really interesting and fun to think back to. So in 2008, actually I think it was 2007, my business partner with High Conflict Institute and I, we actually set up a series of seminars around the country in 2007 and in March, we had one in Phoenix where she's based, Megan Hunter, she's my business partner with High Conflict Institute. And so I was the speaker for a couple of days, and in the audience we had a lot of lawyers, some mental health professionals, and also there were two judges. And I remember them sitting on the left side of the room and at some point in the middle of the seminar, one of them raised their hand and said, "What are we going to do about these awful emails that we're sending to each other while they're going through divorce?"

And so at that point, I'd been a family lawyer for about 15 years and I had been rewriting client emails, and I'm sure you've been doing that too. But basically I said to them is, "Well, first of all, they have to be brief because these really long things just don't work, they backfire." And then I said, "They should be informative, just straight information." Then now, I was thinking about... I had really helped my clients narrow it down. And then I said, "They actually should be friendly." That the tone needs to be friendly. So even if you get a hostile email, what you write back has a friendly tone, like thank you for responding or thank you for your information or something like that, just a touch to make it not escalate. And they're writing notes and they're saying, "Oh, well that's BIFF B-I-F." And I said, "Yeah, I'd never thought about it that way. You're right."

Then the other judge said, "Well, if you add another F you've got BIFF, like a name. Like a character in Back to the Future and things like that. Or BIFF pal like in the comic books. So I said, "Well let's see, another F what would that be?" I said, "It should be firm and that it tries to end the hostility, to end the conversation." So not harsh but just firm and thus BIFF was born, and then after that, I really started teaching that and refining that. And I don't know how long you want the story to be, because I could tell you about teaching it in Australia, but I'll let you decide.

Todd Orston: That was a pretty cool story too. If they're interested, they should go read the book for sure, because it was a very funny story. I really want to get to more of the content because people can really learn from this, make their lives easier, save them a lot of money cause it'll make their lawyer's lives easier, and I'm hoping that by the time we get through with this show, people are going to be going, if they're in a high conflict situation or they have a high conflict co-parent, that they're going to go out and read this book because they really need to. Because not only do you explain the method, you give very specific examples and break it down, why this one was not informative or maybe it was informed. Why this one wasn't firm, and it is a great model. It's just one of those practical books, I mean, and we've had other guests on the show that have had really good books but they weren't as practical as this one. I'm not trying to say that theirs were bad, it's just yours puts it in a different light.

Bill Eddy: Yeah. So we really try to just keep it that simple, but it's really, I think, very powerful, because it helps people do what needs to be done without just overreacting and stuff.

Todd Orston: Very quickly, it's funny, because we're talking about where BIFF came from and high conflict personalities. The movie actually that comes to my mind is an old one, Weird Science, and there's a Biff character that is as high conflict as you can imagine, in a comedic way. But I got to tell you, doing what we do, we see these people all the time. Maybe not to that that extreme that you're watching a comedy, but it really is impressive and it's funny to me that you were able to come up with this term that so encapsulates the problem and provide such a great for dealing with these types of people.

Bill Eddy: Yeah. And it's just, I didn't realize how popular BIFF would be, but I think because it's simple and it's just four steps, you just take a look at what you've written and you BIFF it. What's fun to me is it's become a verb, like you biff it. It's become an adjective, like a biff response, and it's a noun, give him a Biff. And so it's a fun word. It has a nice sound to it, and when I teach groups of people, like I teach people in the workplace, this is well, and then they all go, "Oh yeah, I biffed him, and yeah, you need to send them a biff and this and that." It's taken on a life of its own, but it's so easy and that's the thing, I think, makes it a really useful.

Todd Orston: We've shared this with our listeners before and we'll share it with you that inside our firm, we actually have a second eye policy, because lawyers can definitely fall prey to the same problems that high conflict litigants can. And so when we're in one of those situations, we have another attorney or at least another person review our letter, we call it the second eye policy, but if they really go through the BIFF procedure to make sure to take out all the other bad, I call it the bad stuff, and make sure we focus on making it brief, informative, friendly, and firm, because we know the judge may be looking at it. When we get back, Bill's going to break down not just more of the BIFF method, but also the three A's to avoid. I just wanted to let you know that if you ever wanted to listen to the show live, you can listen at 1:00 AM on Monday mornings on WSB. So you can always check us out there as well.

Leh Meriwether: Better than counting sheep, I guess. Right? You can turn on the show and we'll help you fall asleep.

Todd Orston: There you go.

Leh Meriwether: I'll talk very softly. Welcome back everyone, this is Leh and Todd, and we are your co-hosts for Divorce Team Radio, a show sponsored by the divorce and family law firm of Meriwether and Tharp. If you want to read more about us, you can always check us out online, atlantadivorceteam.com. If you want to read a transcript of this show or go back and listen to it again, you can always find it at divorceteamradio.com or wherever you get your podcasts. Well today, we are so fortunate to have in studio with us, Bill Eddy. He's authored 20 plus books, but his most recent book is BIFF for Co-Parent Communication: Your Guide to Difficult Texts, Emails, and Social Media Posts. So BIFF is a method that Bill developed, actually with help of an audience one day, and told that story in the last segment, and it stands for brief, informative, friendly, and firm.

Hopefully by the end of the show, you're going to get just a taste of it, how powerful and an effective means of communication it is, and you're going to want to go grab his book. But before we get to that, because I know you have a lot of... Bill, you have a lot of books about the BIFF method, because it doesn't just apply to a divorce situation or co-parenting situation. This book is focused on that, which I think is fantastic. But why did you put so much energy in developing the Biff method, along with the books and the videos and all the resources that you have that you can find a lot on, it's highconflictinstitute.com, right?

Bill Eddy: That's right. Yes. So what's happening, what we're seeing and everyone is seeing this, is that what we call blame speak is increasing everywhere in society. Certainly online, where people say, "It's all your fault and you're the idiot. No, you're the idiot." And we get this labeling the whole person with disparaging names and saying it's all one person's fault, the other person's fault. And it's very emotional. And of course you see it with people typing with all caps and [inaudible 00:13:15] and this and that, and that's happening actually everywhere in society. But we see it most in a divorce and especially divorce if it becomes high conflict. And so we really wanted to help people manage, "How do you respond to this?" And if someone says you're a piece of dirt and you've done everything wrong and then I want to switch the kids this weekend. But my intention is to say, "Well, you're a bigger piece of dirt and you've done everything, everything wrong, and there's no blankety blank way. I'm going to fulfill your request." And so things just go nowhere.

We really wanted to help people and the place to start is how you respond to a hostile email or text. And so that's really why we put so much into it. And for the first few years, we call it a BIFF, response so that when you respond to somebody being hostile or misinformed, that you have a reasonable response. And then we realized that you need to initiate conversations sometimes with people that are going to be difficult. And so you've got to be careful that you don't have any blame speak in how you start the conversation. So, we really call it BIFF communication now and that's why we put so much into it, because there's really an increasing need for something like this.

Leh Meriwether: And I like how in the book you do a good job. You and your co-authors and your co-authors, by the way, I don't think I mentioned them, Annette burns and Kevin Chaffin? Did I say his last name right?

Bill Eddy: Yeah, that's right. And she's a lawyer and he's a therapist. So it was a good team, all three of us.

Leh Meriwether: Yeah, and you clearly worked well together putting together this book because you lay out what blame speak is, and you also say, "You know what? It's okay to feel like you've got to do this sometimes, because divorce is hard." You don't make people feel guilty at all for... but I want to say this and you do a great job explaining it and you also do a good job of explaining, "This is why you don't want to go down this path." And the other thing you separate in this book, which another reason why I think people need to pick it up is, you say there's, and if I miss saying anything please correct me, because I what I read was, there are two type of people that you may be dealing with.

One, someone who's just angry and emotional because of the divorce and BIFF is going to help that because it's going to help reduce that anger and hopefully get you to a point where you're co-parenting well. Or they suffer from some... they're a high conflict personality and nothing you do can help per se change them, but at least you can help minimize the conflict and at least you can write things that look good to the court. So that's one of the things I got out of this, and I really like how you phrased it for people in the very beginning of the book so it makes it easier for them to process the BIFF method and understand why they really need to start doing it.

Bill Eddy: Yeah, and one thing I want to put in here since we're all dealing with family law, is high conflict cases, some people see those, and judges often do, as too high conflict people, and that they're both equally unreasonable and just cut it out. I do a lot of training around the country and actually other countries as well and I often take a poll and I say, "Well, of your high conflict cases, how many have two high-conflict people? And how many just one high conflict person and the other is mostly reasonable, but they're probably reacting?" And they often say "Half of people, it's just one high conflict person." So what we've found with teaching people BIFF is instead of mirroring the high conflict behavior of a high conflict co-parent is you're writing in a way that hopefully they will mirror, which is respectful, brief, informative, friendly, and firm. So it really, I think, helps with that to know that how you look is going to be a lot based on how you write.

Leh Meriwether: Yeah. And it's almost like, and I've told clients this in the past, that it's akin to, if you watch one of those, like a professional football game. And so there'll be one player that'll just shove or punch, sometimes, the other player. And of course the other player gets angry and just takes another swing back at him and decks them. But most of the time the ref only catches the response or the reaction to the initial unsportsmanlike conduct. And so the one who reacts to it is the one who gets flagged when the unsportsmanlike conduct, rather than both of them. And I see that in divorces too, which is why BIFF, if you respond to a hostile email or text message with a BIFF communication, you're not going to be that one that gets the unsportsmanlike flag.

Bill Eddy: Exactly, exactly. Like you said, we encourage people to realize if you end up in court so much today, people file a lot of the emails and texts and it looks to a judge like these are just two equally difficult people. But if you have BIFF method, it really shows it's really different. It doesn't have that emotional overreaction to it.

Leh Meriwether: What I love is oftentimes when I'm talking to someone, lead to your point, where we're talking to someone where there is this high level of conflict, oftentimes I'll put it in terms of almost like Miranda warnings. Well, everything you say can and will be used against you. But that's a very litigation focused comment, as opposed to, "Do you ever want to get to a point where you aren't in this conflict or high conflict situation?" This method is not just protecting you from a bad result in litigation. That's an added benefit, but hopefully it's getting you back on a path to be able to communicate and work well with your partner, the other person that you are in this high conflict you know ugly relationship with, to see if maybe you can get back on track for the betterment of your own relationship or for children or anybody involved.

Bill Eddy: Yes. And one of the most exciting things to me is I'm now getting feedback from clients and lawyers, that when their client writes in the BIFF format, that the other person who was writing in hostility and misinformation starts using the BIFF format back, and they don't even know it's a BIFF format.

Todd Orston: It's contagious.

Bill Eddy: Yeah. So the main thing is by keeping it brief, you don't incite the other person. They don't find something in there to pick on and usually it's just a paragraph. Keeping it informative, just engages with useful information, no hostility, no emotions, no judgements opinions, criticisms, just straight information. It's friendly. So there's a little bit of a friendly tone. Like, "Thank you for responding to my request." Or "It's Friday afternoon, so have a good weekend." Something like that, and it's firm in that it ends the hostility, it ends the conversation. You don't leave any hooks out there like, "What do you think of that, buddy?"

Leh Meriwether: I've seen that laugh because I've seen that before.

Bill Eddy: Yes. Yes. People just... Oh, they can't stop themselves, but when they practice BIFF, then they learn to stop themselves and it really does calm the conversation down.

Leh Meriwether: Yeah. When we get back we're going to talk about the three A's that you should avoid when drafting your BIFF response. Hey everyone you're listening to our podcast, but you have alternatives. You have choices. You can listen to us live also at 1:00 AM on Monday morning on WSB.

Todd Orston: If you're enjoying the show, we would love it, if you could go rate us in iTunes or wherever you may be listening to it. Give us a five-star rating and tell us why you like the show.

Leh Meriwether: Welcome back everyone. This is Leh and Todd, and we are your co-hosts for Divorce Team Radio, a show sponsored by the divorce and family law firm of Meriwether and Tharp. If you want to read more about us, you can always check us out online, atlantadivorceteam.com, and if you want to read a transcript of this show or go back and listen to it again, you can find it at divorceteamradio.com.

Okay, well, today we are so fortunate to have Bill Eddy with us talking about one of his newest books, BIFF for Co-Parent Communication. And you can get it wherever books are sold. You can also go to his website, highconflictinstitute.com, and where we left off, Bill, you gave a brief overview of what BIFF stands for, I mean, with a little more detail, but associating with BIFF, you have these three A's that everyone should avoid. Can you share with the audience those three A's that everyone, if they're being briefed, they should be leaving these out of your BIFF response.

Bill Eddy: Yes, exactly. So the three A's, first one is advice, and I've seen where people say they get a hostile email and they reply and say, "Let me give you some buddy, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah." And that's not going to go well because they're not asking you for advice, they're trying to tell you what they think. So you really just want to keep that out. That's one of those hooks that I talk about that if it's firm don't include advice. They're not asking you for that.

The second A is admonishments, like a judge talking to a litigant or a parent talking to a child. It's like, "Never, ever, ever do such and such again." And that also, it triggers defensiveness from an upset person. And as you said earlier, people could have a high conflict personality, or they might just be upset at the time that they wrote their email. In either case, admonishing an upset person is not going to get a sense of peace and calm. They're going to react pretty strong to that.

The third A is one of the harder concepts to get, and that's to avoid apologies in a BIFF response. And I want you to know, we love apologies and there's many situations where they're may be appropriate, but not in a BIFF response. So if you're dealing with a high conflict person or someone who's really angry, what we have seen over and over again is when you apologize for something small, what they hear is you agreed it's all your fault and you don't want to feed that. And I've actually been in cases where I've seen someone who I think was a bully or a domestic abuser carrying around a wrinkled piece of paper that the other person wrote saying, "I'm sorry, I don't do this. I'm sorry, I don't do that enough." And I'm thinking, I know they were trying to calm the person down, but the result of that is that this person keeps using it against them. So it becomes ammunition when you say, "I'm sorry." to a high conflict person or a very upset person. So just keep those out. Maybe there's a place for that, but not in a BIFF response.

Leh Meriwether: From our angle as a family lawyers, obviously we... I can tell you I, for one, don't like walking into court and all of a sudden I'm in the middle of a hearing and I see email after email of my client apologizing and it's being used against them. But it is counter-intuitive right? We've been raised to think an apology is good, that that's the beginning of getting through that pain and, and getting a healthier place. But I hear what you're saying. Basically it can too often be misused by the other party who received that apology.

Bill Eddy: Exactly. And I would suggest that if you really feel like you need to apologize, just do it verbally, don't do it in writing. For exactly the reason you said, when it gets used against you, if you're dealing with a high conflict situation or angry person, they're going to go, "Oh, good. Now I'm going to use this to show that you agreed it's all your fault." And that's not what we want. There's a lot of all or nothing thinking with blame speak, and we're trying to not respond, to feed that with apology. So it's counterintuitive and it's not that there's something wrong with the idea of apologies, but responding to a hostile email or text is not the time in place. It will be used against you.

Leh Meriwether: And I'll say this, so we've had other guests on the show that we're talking about co-parenting. So every relationship is different, every situation is different. And so there may be situations like, well let me take it back. We are mainly talking about, in this book, of situations that are high conflict. You may have two good co-parents working together, someone sends that angry email, and they're totally justified in sending an angry email because the other person made a very uncharacteristic mistake and then they apologize. But that was because that apology would be okay in that scenario only because they had a great history of a great co-parenting relationship and that apology keeps it going. This is when you do not have a history of a good relationship.

So for those that may be in this situation, they feel compelled a lot of times to say, "I'm sorry." There are great examples in the book of how to basically, if you were in the wrong, not deny it because that's going to look bad to the core, but you don't use the words, I'm sorry. Or I screwed up. Instead you use different wording to basically admit it is a tacit admission, that in a statement you're going to do better going forward, but it's not using those words. IS it okay if I give an example from the book? Is that okay with you? So I know, like one of the ones I had emailed you before the show was the birthday example, where the mom had told dad that, "Hey, your daughter has this." I'm putting my own tone into it. "Your daughter has this birthday party and you need to make sure you go get this and this and this and this for her before the party and make sure she's there."

And of course he responds that, "Hey, look, it's my parenting time. I should get to do what I want to on my parenting time. And there was more to it, that's why I need to get the book, but she responds without saying she's sorry, and she just says, "I want to keep you informed about their functions. I will make sure any possible activities are on the shared calendar and I will forward any email invitations they receive that follow on your time, so you can make decisions and respond. I respect your right to make decisions about your time with the children." So she didn't even engage in the comments that he made on the entire correspondence back and forth, which I love about your book by the way, you have what he said what she said, how she responded, how she could have responded better. And then you even have a little template that everyone should use if they're in a high conflict situation to ask yourself, "Was this brief, was this informative? Did I avoid the A's?" So in that example, she she's basically admitting, "You know what? You're right. I shouldn't tell you what to do on your time." But she didn't say it that way.

Bill Eddy: Exactly. So she says, "This is what happened and in the future, I'll make sure to let you know. And so there's nothing in there that like, "Oh, I can use that against her." It's just hearsay information. So that's a really good example of it being brief, informative, friendly, and firm. You're right.

Leh Meriwether: I think that was, and sometimes they're tempted to say, what do you think, and there are circumstances where that might be acceptable, but that's an example of not being firm in your conclusion. You've left something open for them to come back at you with.

Bill Eddy: Exactly. And let me say, sometimes you do need some information, so you may end with a question. But we really recommend you make it a yes or no question. Keep it narrow and simple and say, "Please let me know, yes or no, by Thursday at five." And that way it's just very simple and it doesn't become like, "Why didn't you respond?" And what you didn't say when you needed to know and all of that. So keep it really simple. That's one of the principles.

Leh Meriwether: Good stuff.

Todd Orston: And obviously, I have to assume we've seen this before, no matter how well you think you're communicating, the response may still be ugly. But at least you're not giving them that ammunition to just keep attacking and keep that ugly conversation going.

Bill Eddy: Exactly. And I think that's why we hear about people saying the other side is starting to calm down their emails and texts because with repetition, they start seeing, "Hey, this looks a little more reasonable than what I'm writing." And you're not engaging at that emotional level.

Todd Orston: And maybe their attorney is looking at them going, "They're consistently reasonable and every email I'm looking at, you or being unreasonable and the court's not going to like that." So even if their change is due to that fear of what the court will do, it doesn't matter, you're still effectuating some change.

Bill Eddy: Exactly. And so I think, like you said earlier, it can be to have a positive relationship and it can also be to avoid a negative outcome at court. Because I've had clients in court that the judge really chastised or admonished.

Leh Meriwether: And when we get back, we're going to talk more about the examples of BIFF communication. I just wanted to let you know that if you ever wanted to listen to the show live, you can listen at 1:00 AM on Monday mornings WSB. So you can always check us out there as well.

Todd Orston: Better than counting sheep, I guess. Right? You can turn on the show and we'll help you fall asleep.

Leh Meriwether: There you go.

Todd Orston: I'll talk very softly.

Leh Meriwether: Welcome back everyone. This is Leh and Todd and we are your co-hosts for Divorce Team Radio, a show sponsored by the divorce and family law firm of Meriwether and Tharp. If you want to read more about us, you can always check us out online atlantadivorceteam.com. And if you want to read a transcript of this show or go back and listen to it again, you can find it at divorceteamradio.com. Well, our guest is Bill Eddy and his book, that he co-authored, is BIFF for Co-Parent Communication: Your Guide to Difficult Texts, Emails, and Social Media Post. We've been talking with Bill this whole show. If you are dealing with a high conflict co-parent, then you definitely want to get this book. You can get it at Amazon, bookstores, you can even get it at his website, highconflictinstitute.com.

Bill, thanks for coming back. We're wrapping up the show and I think that going into some more examples of the BIFF communication would be great I just want to throw this out there like, sometimes it's hard, you want to say, I'm sorry, that instinctual, "Hey, I'm sorry you feel that way or stuff." But again, that term can get thrown against you in a high conflict situation, but you've got great alternatives out there. So that's another value of this book, it's practical and that... wait, wait, wait. What does the book say? It's just, "Oh, I'm sad to see we're in the situation together." So rather than saying, I'm sorry, you give alternative terminology to use to help diffuse the situation.

Bill Eddy: Exactly. And that's something we've learned over time. And so that is one of the 28 examples in the book. And we show people writing their first draft and then going back over it with that checklist and now rewriting it as a better one. But let me read you one that as it shows the contrast between what comes at you and how you could respond. So this one's Victor and Hannah. So Victor writes, "Once again, you've asked me for a favor and changing the parenting time and it's not going to happen. You are constantly doing this, but you never want to give me any extra time. You only take, you think you control everything, but you don't seem to get it that I have equal parenting time and equal decision-making with you. READ THE COURT ORDERS. Idiot. No, you can't have the kids on my time."

So how to response. "Thank you for responding to my request to take the children to my family reunion. I probably didn't mention that their cousins from the Nebraska will be there. And as you know, they love their cousins and would have liked to see them. Since you do not agree, then of course I will respect that and withdraw my request, as I recognize it is your parenting time." So that's an example of brief, informative, friendly, and firm. Totally different tone from what Victor wrote. But I want to mention it still could be a brief response if at the end she said, "With this information, I hope you'll change your mind. Please let me know by Thursday at five. Yes or no." So it could be a BIFF with or without a question like that.

Todd Orston: I have to jump in with a question, because how should listeners deal with the issue of it's that fight or flight response, right? And so many people will get that aggressive communication and all they want to do is fight. They want to respond in kind. Because I've seen people struggle so much. How do you just deal with that? How do you just walk away, take a deep breath and then start to go down the path of using a BIFF response to try and calm things down, as opposed to just going to fight mode and use your own very angry rhetoric and language in response.

Bill Eddy: Yeah, there's several things, and one is to just put it aside for a couple hours. Another is to write your angry response and don't send it. And I always suggest that you hand write your angry response. So it's fun, you can write in big letters and by the time you've written your angry response in handwriting, if calm down and there's no risk of hitting send if you do it in handwriting. But some people do that, they type, their angry response, and then they type the one they're really going to send, and I wanted to mention there's a great technique that I learned from Kevin Chaffin, who said, I don't remember if he invented this or one of his clients did, he takes the hostile email and rewrites that one in BIFF, just having what's the core thing here. And so basically the core thing in this one is, "No, I don't agree." And if he wrote it as a BIFF, he might say, "I hope you have a good time at that, but I don't agree that you can have the kids at that time." So something to try to make it a little bit friendly and you have to be careful you're not sarcastic when you're trying to be a little bit friendly. But the idea is that's another way to calm it down, is rewrite what they write.

Leh Meriwether: I remember that in the book now I had actually forgotten about that part, but that was a great piece of advice that, rewrite what they wrote you to calm down. Because there was something else you put in the book, you want to take like they're attacking you and you feel like you need to defend yourself. But I think you did a great job in the book explaining a lot of times don't take it personal because it's really as a result of perhaps their personality disorder, perhaps they're angry where they are, they're really angry at themselves and they want to blame, again, going back to the blame speak. They want to blame you for their own problems, but they don't even realize they're doing that.

Bill Eddy: Exactly. And there's a phrase I really teach clients. And I use on myself all the time, and that's reminding myself, it's not about you, it's about their lack of skills. And so the things that are most intense and extreme are someone else's overreaction and they're not about you. That helps me a lot.

Todd Orston: Great point. Sorry, I got quiet because I was starting to really think about that point. I'm actually taking notes so when I'm talking to clients, I'm like, "Oh, you have to listen to the show, you have to read the books. The amount of homework I'm going to be giving our clients is oppressive almost, but it's going to help people so much.

Leh Meriwether: So Bill, before the show ends, just real quick, we still have a little bit of time yet, but we always get into something and I forget. Quickly tell everyone where they can find more information about you and your institute and perhaps your co-authors as well.

Bill Eddy: Yeah. So we're at highconflictinstitute.com and we've got books, articles, videos, consultation, just lots of information. The articles are free, the books are fairly inexpensive. So www.highconflictinstitute.com, you can communicate with me or Annette Burns or Kevin Chafin about this book as well as about others. And also all our books are on Amazon, they're in bookstores, and so they're real easy to get, and they're pretty inexpensive. I forget what this is. It's like 15 or 16, something pretty inexpensive.

Leh Meriwether: It's worth every penny. And if you're in the middle of a divorce or you have problems with people filing contempt against you, it will pay for itself tenfold when you think about the attorney's fees you might avoid. Hey, before we wrap up. So off air, we were talking about one of the examples that I gave you pushback on, I was asking questions and when I say giving pushback, because the way I was reading it, one of the examples sounded a little bit too firm. And in the example of involved a mom... and I'll be really quick, because we only have like a minute left. It involved a mom who had always taken care of the kids and then suddenly they're divorced and the dad suddenly wants to be involved and he says in one of his exchanges that, "Hey, next time I'll schedule the appointment and let you know about it."

And nowhere in the message did he seem to say, "Hey, you know what? I think you've done a great job so far and it's not that you're not doing a good job, but I want to be a little more involved now." And so I asked you about that and you had a great response. So maybe to wrap up the show, just explaining how you answered me on that, so that when people read this, they keep this in mind.

Bill Eddy: Yeah. The key thing is to use your own judgment. And so in the case, that example that we gave, he just says, "I'll schedule the doctor appointment next time." He doesn't say any of those friendly things and he just assumes he's going to do that. He doesn't say, "Let's discuss who should make the next appointment time." So using your own judgment is important. And also know it is situational. It depends on who the writer is, who the reader is and what the situation is. So we like to think of things like BIFF as tools, not rules. So, if you think you want to adapt to it a little bit to work for you, that's fine with us.

Leh Meriwether: Fantastic. Everyone, thanks so much for listening. It's Bill Eddy. The book is BIFF for Co-Parent Communication. Go out and get a copy.