PART 1 – BEE BIFF
Is it not funny to think that there was once a time you would sit by the phone and wonder if he would call or text you; and when his name appeared on caller ID, you would smile and get butterflies? And now that you are separating from him, you know he will call or text and wish he wouldn’t; and when he does call or text, it gives you an uneasy feeling.
Hostile emails, texts and other forms of communication from a former spouse with a high conflict personality may be routine. Bill Eddy’s BIFF Response method is one way you can effectively handle hostile communication. This method encourages you to be Brief, Informative, Friendly and Firm in your responses. It also encourages you to respond rather than react, which will leave you feeling more empowered.
It is best to be brief in your responses to those nasty messages and communication. The more material you provide to your former spouse, the more ammunition they will have to attack you; and the higher the chance of an argument ensuing. It is best to keep your responses simple and to the point.
When confronted with nasty and hurtful comments, it can be instinctive to try and lash out, to face these issues and correct them. However, this response is what sets you down the path to confrontation. Simply stick to providing an accurate set of facts, and nothing more.
The tone of your response can significantly impact how it is read, perceived and responded to. It is best to try and aim for a friendly demeanor. This calm approach will help to make sure that even if the communication is passed around to friends and family, or used as evidence against you in court, it won’t reflect negatively on you.
Be firm in your responses, in a way that allows you to assert yourself without being harsh or threating.
Here is a example BIFF response from Psychology Today:
“Jane, I can’t believe you are so stupid as to think that I’m going to let you take the children to your boss’ birthday party during my parenting time. Have you no memory of the last six conflicts we’ve had about my parenting time? Or are you having an affair with him? I always knew you would do anything to get ahead! In fact, I remember coming to your office party witnessing you making a total fool of yourself – including flirting with everyone from the CEO down to the delivery guy! Are you high on something? Haven’t you gotten your finances together enough to support yourself yet, without flinging yourself at every Tom, Dick and Harry? …”
“Thank you for responding to my request to take the children to my office party. Just to clarify, the party will be from 3-5 on Friday at the office and there will be approximately 30 people there – including several other parents bringing school-age children. There will be no alcohol, as it is a family-oriented firm and there will be family-oriented activities. I think it will be a good experience for them to see me at my workplace. With this information I hope you will reconsider. Please let me know by Thursday at 5pm if you change your mind. Thanks!”
Way to go Jane! She was Brief, Informative, Friendly and Firm; and did not rise to the demeaning ramblings of Joe.
Author: Lorraine Mlambo is an Edmonton based Family Lawyer from RLM Law.