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Why They Don’t Get It?

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, 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. 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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Should Mediation and Counseling Replace Today’s Family Court? (Part 3)

© 2014 by Bill Eddy, LCSW, Esq In Part I of this article (July, High Conflict Institute/Unhooked Books Report), I addressed the changing clientele of today’s family courts around the world. A majority of cases actually going to court appear to involve one or two parties with a mental health problem (generally unrecognized) which drives behavior problems which are presented to the court as legal problems. Yet today’s family courts are unable to effectively change client behavior (which was not their original purpose), yet a significant amount of court time and community resources are spent on trying to manage the misbehavior of some family court clients. Part II of this article (August, High Conflict Institute/Unhooked Books Report) focuses on how the adversarial process of litigation escalates the dysfunctional behavior of those with mental health problems, creating larger public health problems and expense, and how these parties confound the adversarial process of decision-making. In this Part III, I propose a paradigm shift for making divorce and separation decisions which may eliminate 80-90% of today’s family court cases. Should mediation and counseling replace today’s family court? The answer is “Yes!” However, while I recommend replacing today’s family court, I do not recommend completely eliminating family courts. Instead, I recommend seriously redesigning family court into a Family Transition Center, which provides structure and accountability in a non-adversarial manner to assist families and individuals seeking to change their relationships and/or their behavior, and a role for a non-adversarial family court judge for managing those few families for which it is necessary. This change would not require new buildings or funding, but would re-assign rooms and budgets in today’s family courts and change the tasks of various legal professionals and court staff. A Non-Adversarial Family Court? Mediation and counseling are non-adversarial methods which focus on the future. Mediation (and other non-adversarial decision-making methods, such as collaborative divorce) involve making decisions about future parenting, future sharing of some income such as child support, and the future use or division of property. Nothing about these decisions requires an adversarial process. People are used to calculating and paying their taxes without an adversarial process. People are used to making health care and educational decisions without an adversarial process. People leave their jobs and take new jobs on a routine basis in today’s society, without an adversarial process to make job-changing decisions. The shadow of an adversarial process does not need to hang over these decision-making processes for them to be successful. Counseling is also a non-adversarial process and the recommended approach for helping people change family-related behavior. While today’s family courts order people to change their behavior or suffer legal consequences, the adversarial process of court ensures that people will be less likely to change behavior. The highly-criticizing nature of court procedures, including documentary evidence, testimony, witnesses, argument and so forth against each party about their past behavior builds more resistance to change than motivation to change. As I explained in Part I of this series of articles, research tells us that negative coaching styles decrease openness to change for the average person – increasing stress and “fight or flight” responses; while positive “compassionate” coaching styles – which focus on helping the person move toward their future goals and getting assistance in achieving them – assists in behavior change. The negative, adversarial process of court (with judges lecturing, lawyers arguing and the parties taught to blame each other) discourages behavior change. Yet as I explained in Part II of this series, behavioral problems are the primary issue in today’s family courts. Family courts cannot function in a positive manner which promotes behavior change, because they are adversarial in structure. It doesn’t matter how hard the judge tries to persuade behavior change – the adversarial structure works against them. A Family Transition Center Therefore, I recommend replacing today’s Family Court with a non-adversarial Family Transition Center, where families can receive assistance in making family decisions, such as mediation, and assistance in changing negative family behaviors, such as structured counseling. For those who are unable to manage their own family decisions and problems related to separation, there would still be a Judge who would make decisions for them, but not in an adversarial process. This Family Transition Center would have four levels of services – all of them non-adversarial. Level 1: Filing Separation Plans   Filing Separation Plans (for 80% of today’s separating/divorcing families): The Center would have a place for separating families to file their separation plans (marital settlement agreements, etc.) to satisfy the requirements of society (through their state governments) to provide stability in family life. There would be no “Plaintiff” and “Defendant” nor a “Petitioner” and “Respondent.” These Separation Plans or Settlement Agreements would be simple forms with blanks to fill in. There would be Center staff to assist in a non-adversarial manner (drawing from today’s staff busy with court files for hearings), rather than saying I can help one “side” but not the other. Lawyers and private mediators could simply mail in the Separation Plans of their clients, much as they do now in many jurisdictions. While such joint filings are allowed in many places, they are currently discouraged by the requirements of an adversarial process. Such simple filings would take care of the approximately 80% of families which don’t presently need a judge to make their decisions. This would not be very different from what happens now, but there would not be the presumption of an adversarial process in the forms or the treatment of the family, or in the requirement to appear in court to have the judge approve the separation plan or marital settlement agreement, as still occurs in some jurisdictions. Level 2: Mediation Services Mediation Services (for the 20% of today’s families who need help making decisions): Half of the families who regularly use family court systems are mostly seeking minor assistance in making their separation plans (marital settlement agreements) and don’t really need a judge. A mediator can help them use legal standards to determine their

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