Example of Conflict With A High Conflict Person

Posted By on August 5th

I had only been practicing law a few years when I found myself sitting in my boss’s office. At the time, I worked at the Office of the Public Defender.

High Conflict

I represented a client who had a distant relative, and this relative called me almost daily about my client’s case. He was a high conflict person. I had no obligation to speak to the relative. In fact, I couldn’t share any confidential information with him. I tried to make him an ally, however, so that my working relationship with my client didn’t fall apart.

The relative constantly instructed me how to represent my client. The relative had no problem telling me what he wanted me to do. He didn’t care about how his instructions were actually not helpful, nor did he care how it impacted my work.

Finally, I had enough of the relative’s instructions and distractions. One day, I said to him, “This is not Burger King, and you don’t get it your way.”

Not surprisingly, my statement didn’t go over well with the relative. Fortunately, my boss supported me in how I was handling the situation.

I have come to realize that high conflict people do not respond well to negative statements, like criticism, lectures, or threats. They have a difficult time linking consequences to their own actions. They are usually driven by unconscious defensiveness rather than logic and self-awareness.

When dealing with high conflict people, attempts to give them insight into their own bad behavior are a waste of time. They are doing this behavior because they think it’s necessary and appropriate for self-protection. In fact, criticism, lectures, and threats may actually increase their bad behavior.

Are you dealing with a high conflict person? Do you need help understanding their behavior? Call me toll free at (877) 687-1392 or locally at (239) 210-7516. Your initial consultation is free!

About the author

Keith Grossman helps individuals and businesses negotiate and manage conflict more comfortably. Keith is a Collaborative Attorney, a Family and Circuit Civil mediator certified by the Supreme Court of Florida, an Arbitrator qualified by the Florida Supreme Court, and an educator. Keith frequently lectures and facilitates training programs, works with individuals one-on-one, and writes articles on conflict management and negotiation topics. His e-workbooks, “What Is A Peace Chest?” and “How Do You Build A Peace Chest?“ are now available on Kindle.


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