Happy New Year! HCI at 4!

January 5, 2012


We’d like to wish all of our readers, followers and customers a happy and productive New Year. High Conflict Institute (HCI) is 4 years old this month! What an adventure it’s been, with both ups and downs! When we (Megan Hunter and Bill Eddy) established HCI, our goal was to provide trainings to legal professionals – primarily family law related – in understanding and managing high conflict personalities. Megan had worked with the Arizona Supreme Court on family law programs (evaluating child support guidelines, training judges in family law, etc.) and Bill was a Certified Family Law Specialist attorney in California, with a background as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.
 
SEMINARS
We soon found that many others were interested in our trainings, including lawyers, judges, and mediators in all areas of law; human resource professionals, law enforcement, healthcare administrators, college administrators and homeowners associations. Then we received requests for seminars from overseas! In 2011, Megan spoke in several cities in Australia and Bill spoke in Sweden, as well as giving seminars in several provinces in Canada. About 25% of our seminars are now in Canada.
 
On the down side, we quickly discovered that it was not productive to sponsor and promote our own seminars. Partly this was due to the economy crashing the year we began, and partly because live seminars depended on local people and our base was international, based on the Internet. Instead, we have focused on providing seminars to existing organizations that are seeking speakers and trainers on managing high conflict people – including many state and national bar association conferences, state and federal judicial conferences, mediation conferences, Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, and many others. We now have a panel of seven speakers, based in 3 countries.  
 
BOOKS
Publishing books was a surprise development for HCI. At first, we just sold Bill’s books (published by two other small presses), but in 2009 HCI took over publishing Bill’s existing and some new books, and some other authors. Megan went to publishing conferences and really learned the field. She turned our website into a beautiful Internet business, selling books, CDs, DVDs and even coffee mugs with our sayings on them (“The Issue’s Not the Issue” “Don’t Work Harder Than Your Clients”).  
 
The down side of an Internet business is that we were devastated when we were successfully hacked early in 2011 and our beautiful website was down for several months, operating on a very limited basis while Megan and Bill were busy giving seminars. This experience lowered our low incomes, and Megan realized she needed to spend less time on HCI and more time earning another income. So we decided to split HCI into two separate businesses: Megan now does publishing (now titled “Unhooked Books,” which includes “HCI Press”) and Bill does seminars, consulting and developing new methods as HCI. We find we are each more efficient by focusing our efforts more narrowly. We are still very interconnected, as Megan is one of Bill’s speakers and Bill is one of Megan’s authors, and we promote each other’s work through our joint monthly Newsletter.
 
METHODS
A surprising new area was developing simple methods for interpersonal conflict resolution with high conflict people in many settings. Bill developed the “E.A.R. Technique” for calming upset people, the “B.I.F.F. Response” to hostile email and other communications, and the “C.A.R.S. Method” of conflict resolution for the workplace – or any setting. In 2009, we developed the “New Ways for Families” court-based method for managing high conflict divorces, which has been adopted in six cities in the United States and Canada, and also adapted for Collaborative Divorce. Bill is now working on the “New Ways for Work” coaching method, for dealing with potentially high conflict employees to see if they can learn conflict reducing skills (or not). We hope this will be out in 2012, published by Megan with training by Bill.
 
The downside for New Ways for Families is that it has not grown yet in the United States as we had hoped. But on the upside, two court systems in Canada have been awarded $500,000 grants to use and study New Ways for Families for 3 years. We are hopeful that it will be successful there, then it should grow rapidly. 
 
Overall, it has been a very personally rewarding experience for us over these past 4 years, helping individuals, families and professionals dealing with high conflict situations. Our hope for 2012 is to build on what we have done. We plan to grow into the workplace with our new books and training, while maintaining our strong involvement in the legal field.
 
We wish you a rewarding and growthful year as well! And we’d love to hear from you!
 
Bill and Megan
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