Why They Don’t Get It?

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Why Don’t They Get It?

© 2015 By L. Georgi DiStefano, LCSW and Bill Eddy, LCSW, Esq.

It’s so aggravating! No matter what you say or do, that certain employee is blind to their behavior and how they negatively impact coworkers, clients, and their own performance. In this post, Bill Eddy and Georgi DiStefano address that problem in a “RAD” new way.


The Counterproductive Coworker

One of the most frequent questions we hear in workplace conflicts, in counseling, and in mediation, is “Why doesn’t the other person ‘get it?’” Clients often bitterly complain that despite the clearest of circumstances, the other person appears to have no idea how difficult or harmful, or counterproductive they are being. Often our clients shake their heads in disbelief.  “They aren’t a stupid person, why can’t they see this”?

Unfortunately, the other party frequently has what we term a “high conflict personality.”  In our book It’s All Your Fault at Work, we mention that one of the major characteristics of a high-conflict personality is the inability or reduced ability to self-reflect and change. These are two characteristics of a personality disorder: the inability to self-reflect and to change.


Ability to Reflect?

Counselors will tell you that during a counseling session, most people lay out the problem and explain the various players.  However, before the hour is over most healthy people begin to reflect on their part of the conflict.  They might say “I should have done this or I could have said that.”  They begin to take some responsibility for their contribution to the conflict.  However, HCPs generally do not “self-reflect”.  They take no responsibility for the problem.  “It’s all your fault,” they think.  They do not see their contribution to the problem because they cannot consider and reflect upon their own behavior.  The more you try to get them to see it, the more escalated the problem will become.


Focus on the Future

Focus instead on the future.  We call these “feed-forward” conversations.  Ask the other party to make a proposal or offer one to you. Avoid discussing what has already occurred as much as possible because it will only escalate the conflict.


What to do? 

In our book we discuss taking a RAD approach:

R         Recognize that you may be dealing with an HCP.  This means that they have little ability to self-reflect or take responsibility. You don’t have to be certain – you can use these tools with anyone.

A        Adapt your responses accordingly.  Give up trying to get them to see the issue as you do.  Avoid direct criticism or anger. Try to focus on the future.

D         Deliver a CARS response: Connecting, Analyzing, Responding and Setting Limits.  Utilizing The CARS Method®, work with the individual to obtain a mutually agreeable solution.  This will require that you do not to take the issue personally and do not escalate your own emotions.  The key is to focus on managing the relationship in a productive way.


Bill Eddy headshot

BILL EDDY, LCSW, ESQ. is the co-founder and Chief Innovation Officer of the High Conflict Institute in San Diego, California. He pioneered the High Conflict Personality Theory (HCP) and is viewed globally as the leading expert on managing disputes involving people with high-conflict personalities. He has written more than twenty books on the topic, developed methods for managing high-conflict disputes, and has taught professionals in the U.S. and more than ten countries. He is also co-host of the popular podcast, It’s All Your Fault, and writes a popular blog on Psychology Today.

Georgi DiStefano headshot

L. GEORGI DISTEFANO, LCSW  is an award-winning author, international speaker, licensed clinical social worker, and the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association of Social Workers San Diego chapter. She has extensive experience in the management of substance abuse programs and employee assistance programs, as well as workplace conflict resolution.


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