Increasingly, high-conflict people—especially narcissists and bullies—are showing up in the workplace. It’s All Your Fault at Work! addresses ways of managing the behavior of high-conflict people (HCPs).
Based on author Bill Eddy’s high-conflict personality theory, the book explains how to recognize predictable patterns of behavior and illustrates with over a dozen examples the simple four-step C.A.R.S. method to calm the HCP, analyze options, respond to hostility, and set limits on extreme behavior.
No, it’s not just your imagination—more and more people in the workplace today have high-conflict personalities. Co-workers, clients, even bosses are behaving in narcissistic or bullying ways, choosing targets and then placing blame on them, treating them with disdain, or otherwise acting in aggressive, inappropriate ways. Some go so far as to spread damaging rumors, harass, or directly sabotage their targets, among other extreme behaviors. These are not people who are just having an occasional bad day; these are people who display a repeated pattern of high-conflict behavior. And they aren’t just difficult; they are the most difficult of people. Some have true personality disorders, while others have only some traits of these disorders. Either way, they can make your life at work stressful, frustrating, and extremely challenging.
“This book belongs in every leader’s library. Although I believe there’s a pearl of good in everyone, some people’s pearl is hard to find. You may not be able to change a high conflict personality, but by using Bill Eddy’s and Georgi DiStefano’s techniques, you’ll be able to keep the focus on solutions rather than arguments.”
—Ken Blanchard, coauthor of The One Minute Manager® and Leading at a Higher Level
The good news is that their behavior is not about you—it’s about them. What’s more, you can learn strategies and techniques to deal with them more effectively at work. Based on Bill Eddy’s high-conflict personality theory, he and co-author, L. Georgi DiStefano, expertly define the problem so you can recognize potential high-conflict people (HCPs) in your own work life. They describe the key characteristics of HCPs and the typical behavior patterns of five main types of high-conflict personalities. Then they walk you through their proactive approach for minimizing conflict and keeping interactions with HCPs as peaceful as possible. You’ll learn about—and see examples of—how to use a simple, proven four-step method to help calm HCPs, analyze your options, respond to hostility, and set limits on extreme behavior. While you cannot ultimately change someone else’s personality, you can adapt your own behavior and respond to the person in different ways that make things better at work for yourself, the high-conflict person, and your organization.
“Bill Eddy’s model for high-conflict personalities has proved an invaluable aid for us when working with our toughest employee relations cases. His practical advice provides a very useful framework for recognizing and understanding different workplace personalities and developing the most effective approach to handling them.”
—Keith Epstein, senior workplace investigator, Intel Corporation
“In today’s global economy, increased collaboration forces more complexity and turbulence upon us. In this environment, high-conflict personalities struggle more than ever to manage their extremes and maintain control of their lives and their relationships with others. As extreme behaviors proliferate, we are tasked with being more measured in our response. Bill Eddy and Georgi DiStefano offer an impressive practical tool for all of those caught in the dysfunctions of our modern workplace. Recommended to all global executives dealing with conflict and change!”
—Giuseppe Carella, managing director, Thunderbird School of Global Management
“Bill Eddy and Georgi DiStefano manage to combine their advanced knowledge and skills to produce practical and workable tips. Easy to read, understand, and use—a really useful and helpful book.”
—Professor Tania Sourdin, director, Australian Centre for Justice Innovation (ACJI), Monash University
“It’s All Your Fault at Work presents expertly crafted strategies and techniques for dealing with difficult people in the workplace, where it is not possible to ignore them or walk away. Here are clear, concise, commonsense interventions for managing a wide array of dysfunctional personality traits and personality disorders. Their user-friendly educational approach is based on a deep understanding of the dynamics of high-conflict people in all their manifestations. The authors provide sage advice that encourages a productive focus not on how to deal with the problem behaviors but, instead, on how to set realistic goals and objectives for managing such issues. Based on their experience and expertise in mental health counseling, substance abuse treatment, and mediation and dispute resolution, this book transfers their knowledge to the real-life everyday work environment—offering an important reference guide for all of us.”
—Karenlee Robinson, MS, MHA, retired CEO, Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital
“Every employment manager should have this book within easy reach for help in reducing tensions and conflict with certain employees—the ones nothing seems to work with, the employees Bill Eddy has identified as high-conflict people. The methods in this book and Bill’s state-of-the-art trainings are just the antidote for dealing with toxic workplace environments that these employees create.”
—Dennis Sharp, president, Sharp Resolutions
“Bill and Georgi have given me a sturdy key to turn the lock on the door that had seemed, at the time, permanently stuck shut. They invited me to think about how to take an insurmountable pile of thorny, irrational issues and turn them into professionally astute moments of respectful action. The key has never turned without some amount of labour, but it has been made less effortful with a healthy dollop of insights, options, and solutions.”
—Colleen Doylend, corporate learning and development specialist, Alberta Electric System Operator
“L. Georgi DiStefano, LCSW, is weaves a career of counseling and coaching experience this book and her seminars, and her real-life examples help managers and employees grasp the learning objectives quickly. Georgi’s content is ‘spot-on’ in terms of what’s happening now in the workplace, and how to apply her techniques and skills right away. She is a rare gem when it comes to resources that enhance the organization, its people, and ultimately its capabilities. As a member of the executive team and someone who is responsible for Human Resources, I rely upon Georgi to understand and support our company’s learning priorities and she never disappoints!”
—Teddi Reilly, MBA, vice president of Human Resources, D&K Engineering, Inc.; president, San Diego Human Resources Forum
“Managers need tools and training to work with high-conflict personalities (HCPs) and situations with confidence. The authors have developed practical and easily remembered methods and techniques that help managers recognize a possible high-conflict personality, keep calm, gather information, and know what to do next.”
—M. A. Brown, Senior Professional in Human Resources, (SPHR)
“I have consulted with Georgi DiStefano for years, and her advice and counseling in dealing with challenging customers has been extremely beneficial. It made a difference in how I dealt with these customers. With her insight, I realized they could not be changed, but by using the methods outlined in the book, I was able to sustain manageable, long-term, mutually beneficial relationships with them. These effective techniques have a wide application in the workplace.”
—Debbie Jackson, CEO, ASI, a software design and computer network integration company
“Bill Eddy has done it again! We all deal with difficult people and bad behavior but are often at a loss of what to do when confronted with it in our own lives, whether at work or at home. Bill and his co-author, Georgi DiStefano, provide a succinct overview of the five common personality types along with tips, strategies and numerous examples for how to deal with them. The diagrams illustrated help us understand that high conflict behavior is a range of behavior on a continuum. The examples provided of HCPs such as Frank Underwood in the House of Cards and the in-depth look at Steve Jobs really helped drive the points home. The MAD, BAD, RAD, and CARS acronyms are useful in remembering the simple, step-by-step approaches available to keep us sane in insane encounters. And, I love the emphasis on “feed forward” instead of “feed-back” when communicating and how it ties into the workings of the brain. The humor woven into this serious topic create a sense of hope and empowerment that something can be done to deal with these difficult behaviors and high conflict people. Kudos! An invaluable tool to everyone in the workplace!”
—Dr. Debra Dupree, LMFT, President / Founder, Relationships at Work, Inc.
Ch. 1: High-Conflict People (HCPs)
Ch. 2: The CARS Method
Ch. 3: Narcissistic HCPs
Ch. 4: Angry (Borderline) HCPs
Ch. 5: Con Artist (Antisocial) HCPs
Ch. 6: Dramatic (Histrionic) HCPs
Ch. 7: Suspicious (Paranoid) HCPs
Ch. 8: Other High-Conflict Issues
Ch. 9: Workplace Bullies
Ch. 10: Negative Advocates
Ch. 11: Organizational Challenges
Ch. 12: Taking Care of Yourself
About the Authors:
Bill Eddy is a lawyer, therapist, mediator and the President of High Conflict Institute. He developed the “High Conflict Personality” theory (HCP Theory) and has become an international expert on managing disputes involving high conflict personalities and personality disorders. He provides training on this subject to lawyers, judges, mediators, managers, human resource professionals, businesspersons, healthcare administrators, college administrators, homeowners’ association managers, ombudspersons, law enforcement, therapists and others. He has been a speaker and trainer in over 25 states, several provinces in Canada, Australia, France and Sweden. As an attorney, Bill is a Certified Family Law Specialist in California and the Senior Family Mediator at the National Conflict Resolution Center in San Diego. Prior to becoming an attorney in 1992, he was a Licensed Clinical Social worker with twelve years’ experience providing therapy to children, adults, couples and families in psychiatric hospitals and outpatient clinics. He has taught Negotiation and Mediation at the University of San Diego School of Law for six years and he is on the part-time faculty of the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution at the Pepperdine University School of Law and the National Judicial College.
He is the author of numerous articles and several books, including: High Conflict People in Legal Disputes It’s All YOUR Fault! 12 Tips for Managing People Who Blame Others for Everything New Ways for Work: Manual and Workbook SPLITTING: Protecting Yourself While Divorcing Someone with Borderline or Narcissistic Personality Disorder He is the developer of a method for managing potentially high conflict employees titled “New Ways for Work” and “New Ways for Families”, a method of managing potentially high conflict families in and out of family court.
L. Georgi DiStefano, LCSW, received her BA with highest honors from Richmond College, City University of New York, and her Masters in Social Work from State University of New York at Stony Brook. From 2001 until May 2013, she was the Executive Director/Clinical Director for the San Diego State University’s Center for Alcohol & Drug Studies, Driving Under the Influence Program, supervising 85 staff, and over 3,000 active clients. Ms. DiStefano has a long history of innovative work in the addictions field. She has served as a clinician, program director, trainer, and consultant in this practice area throughout her career. Her work has been recognized in numerous ways. In 1991 Ms. DiStefano was awarded the Clinical Social Worker of the Year by the Society of Clinical Social Work, San Diego Chapter. At the 2005 70th Annual Alcoholics Anonymous International Convention in Toronto, Canada, Ms. DiStefano was honored for her professional contribution in the field of Addiction Medicine and was one of only 20 other honorees from around the world. In 2011 Ms. DiStefano received the Lifetime Achievement in Social Work Award from NASW Region E co-hosted by The California Society for Clinical Social Work. She has been a vice-president on the board of the California Women’s Commission on Alcohol and she is a past member of the California State DUI Advisory Board.
She has worked as a trainer for NASW on alcohol/substance dependency training hundreds of social workers across California and has been invited to speak on her work at international conferences in Greece, Japan, Paraguay and New York City. In 2004, Ms. DiStefano conceived The Paradigm Developmental Model of Treatment. In 2007 this model was adapted for multiple DUI offenders. Ms. DiStefano and co-author Mindy Hohman, PhD have written several articles about the model and oversaw a pilot research project utilizing the model. The PDMT model (DiStefano & Hohman, 2010) is a guide for counselors to strategically select interventions to be used in individual work which is based on clinical themes inherent in the 12-Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. Interventions utilize a motivational interviewing style and cognitive behavioral exercises. A fifteen question assessment instrument has been developed and validated as result of the research conducted. In April 2012, Ms. DiStefano published her second book: “Paradigm Developmental Model of Treatment GROUP TOPICS. The PDMT companion workbook for DUI and substance abuse treatment Programs” She has extended this work into a software program to assist DUI programs in their clinical work with clients.