Writing a BIFF Response

September 26, 2013


BIFF respLayout 1onses (or “BIFFs”) are usually in writing, although they can be in person as well.

BIFF stands for:

  • BRIEF
  • INFORMATIVE
  • FRIENDLY
  • FIRM

This may seem easy, but it’s actually pretty hard to do at first – while restraining yourself from doing Blamespeak back. It’s often helpful to step back and not respond right away. Here’s a short description of each step:

  • BRIEF: Your response should be very short, such as one paragraph of 2-5 sentences in most cases. It doesn’t matter how long the Blamespeak statement is that you are responding to. The point is to avoid triggering HCP defensiveness in the other person and focusing them on problem-solving information. Don’t give too many words for the other person to react to. The more you say, the more likely you are to trigger another Blamespeak response – which doesn’t do you any good.  Keeping it brief isn’t easy. When I can, I give my BIFF responses to someone else to review before I send them out. The reviewer almost always cuts them down – often in half.
  • INFORMATIVE: Give a sentence or two of straight, useful information on the subject being discussed. If there isn’t a real subject or issue (because the personality is the issue), you can still give some related helpful information. It shifts the discussion to an objective subject, rather than opinions about each other. Don’t include any words of your opinion or defensiveness about the subject. Just provide straight information, presented in neutral terms, as briefly as possible.
  • FRIENDLY: This is often the hardest part, but very important. You can start out by saying something like: “Thank you for telling me your opinion on this subject.” Or: “I appreciate your concerns.” Or just: “Thanks for your email. Let me give you some information you may not have…” You can also end it with a friendly comment. For example: “I hope you have a nice weekend.”
  • FIRM: The goal of many BIFF responses is to end the conversation – to disengage from a potentially high-conflict situation. You want to let the other person know that this is really all you are going to say on the subject. In some cases, you will give two clear choices for future action. If you need a response, then it often helps to set a firm reply date. If you are going to take action if the other person does not do something, then you could say, for example: “If I don’t receive the information I need by such and such date, then I will have to do such and such. I really hope that won’t be necessary.” (Note that this is both firm and friendly.)

About Unhooked Books
Unhooked Books is the one place for people to find the best and most current information and resources available on personality disorders, high-conflict personalities, divorce, parenting, co-parenting, living healthy, eating healthy, and managing your life. Founder & CEO, Megan Hunter, established one place for people in any type of relationship to find tools to enhance relationships, prevent relationship disaster and handle relationship transition. Her firm belief is that with just a little education, most people can resolve most relationship issues.

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