© 2011 By Bill Eddy, LCSW, Esq.
Yesterday Rod Blagojevich former governor of Illinois, was sentenced to 14 years in prison for fraud and corruption. One of the questions some asked was “Why didn’t we see this before we elected him?” The answer may lie in understanding high conflict people (“HCPs”) – people with high conflict personalities. CHARM: HCPs are often very charming and highly persuasive (and sometimes very intelligent and attractive) at the start of any relationship – especially when they want something from you (your vote, your money, your love). They can look very good for a while (6-12 months), so that few people suspect that they regularly engage in highly negative behavior behind the scenes.
PERSUASIVE BLAMERS: HCPs are preoccupied with blaming others – whether its in politics, at work or in the family. Its mostly just part of their personality, so they don’t even see this as a problem. When they act badly, they say its someone else’s fault. In elections, they are often the ones who present themselves as heroes against all the other politicians, who they describe as terrible villains. The ones who are the best at this manipulation never admit any weakness and keep everyone’s attention on the “villains.”
NEGATIVE ADVOCATES: HCPs are so persuasive that they can gather many people around them who have been charmed and don’t see the coming disasters. In fact, their Negative Advocates can be even more persuasive than the HCP himself. But these Negative Advocates are generally “emotionally hooked” by the charm, and generally uninformed. Once they see what’s really going on behind the scenes, they quickly abandon the HCP.
Rod Blagojevich was thrown out of office by the Illinois legislature without a single vote in his favor (no more Negative Advocates). Now he gets 14 years in prison.
In this coming election year, avoid the speeches of charm and blame, and try to look objectively at the record and behavior under the surface. Don’t be fooled by smooth talk and confidence. Otherwise, you may be the next Negative Advocate for the next failed politician.
Bill Eddy is a lawyer, therapist, and mediator. He is the co-founder and Training Director of the High Conflict Institute, a training and consultation firm that trains professionals to deal with high conflict people and situations. He is the author of several books and methods for handling high conflict personalities and high conflict disputes with the most difficult people.