10 Paradigm Shifts of High Conflict Mediation

According to international expert on High Conflict People, Bill Eddie, mediating with people who have high conflict personalities is different to mediating with other people.

The difference revolves around the capacity for insight and to accept feedback. People who have developed a high conflict interpersonal style lack awareness and empathy and are focused on blame and their own issues. They do not respond well to trans-formative style mediation for this reason. Removing any perception of blaming them is necessary for them to engage in a process and it needs to be very future focused.

Quite simply in mediation (and often in therapy) they are so self protective that there is no way they will acknowledge that they have contributed in any way  to the conflict or issues they now face.

This Article by Bill Eddie the 10 Paradigm Shifts of High Conflict Mediation looks at strategies that mediators can use to to be more effective with these types of clients.

Read the article for more information however in brief the different perspective for work with people who are high conflict are:

  1. Focus on the future, strongly limit discussions of the past to avoid the high conflict person being overwhelmed by emotion
  2. Forget about insight and making them better people. They are just too defensive to gain insight during a mediation intervention.
  3. Focus the whole mediation on their proposals “Proposals are the building blocks of agreement. They often aren’t the final agreements, but they bring us closer to the final agreements.” For more detail on this approach, see article: “Yes, No or I’ll think About It.”
  4. Ask for their “thoughts and questions about the decision they want to make” not opening statements which tend to focus on the past. For more detail on this approach, see article: “When Storytelling Hurts Dispute Resolution.”
  5. Educate about options rather than using probing questions to help them to consider alternatives. People with high conflict approaches tend to fixate on one answer and don’t tend to think about alternative solutions
  6. Teach them to ask questions and use active listening because their normal communication pattern is to react immediately to what they hear.
  7. Have them make their Agenda. For more on this approach, see article: Setting the Agenda (For Meetings That Include Potentially High-Conflict People)
  8. Use EAR statements more than reflective listening. EAR is an acronym for Empathy, Attention and/or Respect and is a speech pattern that Bill Eddie has developed when working with high conflict people.
  9. Don’t ask how they feel, ask what they think. High conflict people often feel awful and make their problems worse by blaming other, taking all or nothing positions, having unmanaged emotions and resorting to extreme behaviours. They feel weak, vulnerable and like a victim of life / others. Even when their behaviour is bullying or overly aggressive. Shifting them from feeling to thinking is helpful so you’d ask “What do you think about that?” rather than “How do you feel about that?”
  10. Don’t try to hammer out agreements, emphasise “thinking about it” or trials.  It may be an unrealistic expectation that you will resolve all issues with a person prone to high conflict in a single session. The failure rate is high if you try to pressure them. The more pressure they feel, the more likely they are to blame those around them for “making” them agree to something they really don’t want. The mediator will be right in the firing line if that is the case.

Read the full article on the High Conflict Institute’s website  10 Paradigm Shifts of High Conflict Mediation

Did you let the Attorney Generals Department know?

Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners

Remember that one of the conditions of your accreditation is that you keep the Attorney Generals Department up to date with:

  • your contact details, including place of employment,
  • email and
  • telephone details.

Place of Employment

One of our members recently received an email from the AG’s department who had been notified by their new employer that they were now working with them. The AG’s emailed to remind the FDRP that they have to let the AG’s Department know if their employment changes.

If you start working or contracting with a FDR service make sure that you send an email to the Practitioners Registration Department of the Australian Attorney Generals Department.

The other obligations include;

A suitable complaint’s mechanism

If you have recently joined Mediation Institute we will have prompted you to let the AG’s department know that Mediation Institute is your approved external complaints mechanism that can be used by your clients.

Professional Indemnity Insurance

If you have changed your insurer you must let the Attorney Generals know who you are insured with.

Professional Development Requirements

Remember that as well as your 25 hours of professional development with your NMAS Accreditation (if you are a NMAS Mediator) you also have to undertake at least 24 hours of professional development activities for every two years of accreditation.

You should have a good overlap between your NMAS and FDR requirements and if you engage with our professional development activities you will easily exceed these requirements.

  • Check out our events calendar for regular and special event webinars.
  • Offer to host a webinar on a suitable topic (3 hours of CPD for a 1 hour webinar to allow for preparation)
  • Participate as a role player, co-mediator or mentor in a student role play (contact us for access to the role play scheduler)

Ceasing practice and other changes

Keep this department up to date if you cease to practice as an FDR practitioner and anything else relevant to your accreditation.

Read this – https://www.ag.gov.au/FamiliesAndMarriage/Families/FamilyDisputeResolution/Pages/Foraccreditedfamilydisputeresolutionpractitioners.aspx

Reminder Online Group Supervision Session

Members are reminded that our monthly Online Group Supervision Session is on tomorrow at 7 pm Brisbane time. Joanne has emailed out a group invitation so that you can get this meeting into your calendar or you can manually add this regular meeting to your diary if you use an analog rather than digital system. […]

This Meeting is free for Mediation Institute RMAB members.

If you are a NMAS Mediator or accredited FDR Practitioner and would like to participate the fee is $35 per session.

If you are a current student of mediation or FDR you can join Mediation Institute Recognised Mediator Accreditation Body for only $20  https://rmab.mediationinstitute.edu.au/shop/mi-rmab-membership-options/student-membership/ 

Regular Webinar Schedule – Save the dates!

All of the upcoming events for Mi as well as others that come to our notice are on the Calendar on the RMAB Website – https://rmab.mediationinstitute.edu.au/events/

The Mediation Institute Events are on a Blue background and the others blue writing on white.

We have two regular series of events running:

– 1st Wednesday of each month 7 pm Online Group Peer Supervision  https://rmab.mediationinstitute.edu.au/event/online-group-peer-supervision/all/ Joanne Law is running those ones and the Zoom meeting number is 9282726252

– 3rd Wednesday of each month at 7 pm Mediation Practice https://rmab.mediationinstitute.edu.au/event/mi-webinar-the-mediation-practice-development/all/ Ken Speakman is running those ones and the meeting number is 555 222 255

– We’ve got a special webinar with a Canadian Based expert on Visual Mediation on the 16th October at 12 pm on my meeting number 928272625 https://rmab.mediationinstitute.edu.au/event/webinar-visual-media-lisa-arora/

Other things will come up from time to time so keep an eye on the weekly email that should go out automatically to you with all of the posts from that week. Let us know if you are not getting that so we can update our records.

Mediation Practice Development Webinars

Mediation Practice Development Webinars

Updated: 21st September 2017

The practice group stated last night (20th September) and the attendees put together a schedule for future sessions.


Structure: One hour webinar

Date and Time: 3rd Wednesday of each month at 7 pm Eastern Standard Time (Brisbane time all year round)  That might shift a bit around Christmas and January.


  • Free for Mediation Institute RMAB Members
  • $35 for non-members

Host: Ken Speakman 

Meeting Number: 555 222 2555


  • 20 minute presentation on the topic for the webinar
  • Open mike Q & A, success and horror stories
  • Take away’s

CPD: 1 hour CPD. You must register to have your CPD recorded but we recommend you add it to your Professional Development spreadsheet as well.

Scheduled Dates and Mediation Practice Development Dates Topics

Topics and registration links will be updated once we have the survey data back.

  1. Wednesday 20th September 2017  – Meet, greet and determine topics
  2. Wednesday 18th October 2017  – Marketing – Client Psychology
  3. Wednesday 15th November 2017 – Writing Articles
  4. Wednesday 20th December 2017 – Creating Video Articles
  5. Wednesday 17th January 2018 – Social Media (Facebook B2C)
  6. Wednesday 21st February 2018 – Building an Integrated Online Marketing Plan
  7. Wednesday 21st March 2018 – Web Page Design Overview
  8. Wednesday 18st April 2018 – Build Your Personal Brand
  9. Wednesday 16th May 2018 – The Key Person of Influence (KPI) Process
  10. Wednesday 20th June 2018 –  Mentoring & Coaching
  11. Wednesday 18th July 2018 – Business 2 Business (B2B) Marketing
  12. Wednesday 15th August 2018 – Business 2 Consumer (B2C) Marketing
  13. Wednesday 19th September 2018 – Professional Associations & Groups

This webinar series on Mediation Practice Development is designed to help mediators develop their mediation practice. The sessions will run monthly on topics chosen by our members.

Log in and go to the members area for discussions, video recordings and resources.

  • Free for Members and $35 a session for non-members

We will add links to the recordings of the sessions for members who can’t attend live to this page over time.  You will also be able to participate in discussions of the topics in the groups area.

Unhooked Media and It’s All YOUR Fault at Work

As you may know we are big fan’s of Bill Eddie and the High Conflict Institute and really support their work in helping to understand and work with high conflict people in your family and workplace. We greater understanding we hope that we all avoid growing more narcissists and other high conflict people!

Bill has a September special on It’s All YOUR Fault at Work

It's all your fault at workIt’s down from $19.95 to $14.95 so might be worth picking up. Link to the publishers website

Book Reviews

There are some other really interesting titles for sale on this specialist publishers site.  We’d be really interested in book review posts if anyone has something fabulous that they have read recently and recommend to other mediators.


While we are looking at all things Bill Eddie you might be interested in this five page feature article about addressing High Conflict in the Workplace. Written by Georgi DiStefano and Bill Eddie it describes some strategies that have proven to be effective when dealing with High Conflict Personalities and behaviour.

If you haven’t read any of Bill Eddies work here is a brief summary to whet your appetite

  • High conflict personalities and behaviour refers to people who exhibit uncontrolled emotions, extreme reactions and are very prone to identifying targets of blame and avoiding any personal responsibility for their actions and their results, unless the results are positive in which case they will take all the credit. The four distinguishing behaviours are:
    • preoccupation with blaming others
    • all-or-nothing thinking
    • unmanaged emotions and
    • extreme behaviours

read the article for the secondary characteristics if you’re thinking that you might be trying to cope with someone with a high conflict personality.

  • The BIFF response is a technique that you can use to defuse hostile written communication. We’ve used it and know that it works!
    • Brief – so it doesn’t trigger a hostile response
    • Informative – clear information not defensive, emotional, opinionated or argumentative. Frustrating but it’s better that way!
    • Friendly – for example thanking them for their response and a friendly closing comment such as “Have a good weekend”
    • Firm – either end the conversation with your response and if that is not possible offer two choices and ask for a reply by a specific date.
  • The CARS Method this approach can be used as a step by step progression or elements of it individually as long as you don’t skip the connect stage!
    • Connecting – it is really important to connect with an EAR statement before trying to address the issue or situation. EAR stands for Empathy, Attention and Respect. e.g “I can see how upset you are (empathy). I will pay attention to your concerns (attention). I really respect your efforts to solve this problem (respect) Seems too overt? Try it, it won’t be.
    • Analysing options – this step helps the person to review their immediate and long term options.
    • Responding to misinformation – people who engage in High Conflict stir up other people and create fear and distress. They have the ability to recruit other people to their cause until their extreme behaviour highlights to their supporters that all is not as they’ve been told. While they are engaged these recruited Negative Advocates help to spread the workplace disruption even through they may not be high conflict themselves. It is important to set the record straight and deal with misinformation.
    • Setting Limits – workplace policies and procedures can form the foundation for setting behavioural limits and consequences. It is important that you are very clear about what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour and what the consequences are if inappropriate behaviour is used.

Link to the article