How to Survive the Holidays with an Antisocial Relative

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© 2012 By Bill Eddy, LCSW, Esq.

[excerpted from It’s All Your Fault! by Bill Eddy]

Don’t Get Conned

While Antisocial “Con Artists” are the best at lying and manipulating information, all of the High Conflict Personalities lie some of the time. In your everyday life, from now on, you’re wise to be a little more cautious with the information you believe—especially from strangers.

Handling Antisocial HCPs

1. Be alert for unusual stories that require you to do something. We naturally believe people who tell us they were victimized. The key point with Antisocials is that they want something from you. They’ll say anything to get it. If someone’s story requires you to make a leap of faith and make a donation or put your energy into something unfamiliar, say “I’ll think about it”—and get more information.

2. Pay attention to your gut feelings. Antisocials will seek and find your soft spots. You’ll feel uncomfortable around them before you consciously know why. Pay attention to your gut feelings and feel free to ask questions. They’ll use many clever and fast words to distract you from your doubts about what they’re saying. They’ll try to put the burden on you, but only if you let them.

3. Be skeptical when anybody tells you someone else is an evil monster. Antisocials are constantly blaming others for terrible deeds that didn’t occur, or at least not the way they describe them. Decide for yourself whether someone is not trustworthy, dangerous, or has made dramatic threats. Consider the source. People who speak in extremes are often projecting their own negative viewpoint onto others. People “get it backwards” more often than you realize.

4. HCPs have distortions much of the time and lie some of the time. This should be obvious, but people get fooled every day. There are people who will knowingly hurt you. Others honestly believe what they’re saying, but it’s false information. Be aware that this occurs.

5. Remind yourself every day to maintain a healthy skepticism. When we get fooled, most of the time it occurs because we didn’t consider that this nice person could be insincere with us. HCPs are often in a lot of pain (with Internal Upsets) and very emotionally persuasive. It helps to remind yourself that you can be easily misled. Antisocial Con Artists chronically spin tales of being abused by their victims. Don’t be misled.

While the holidays can be a stressful time, arming yourself with knowledge will go along way toward helping you deal with this type of HCP and ensure that your season is a bright one.


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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.

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