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B I F F explained – a tool for 2021 !

With 2021 fast approaching, this can be a time to take stock and make plans. Often when I meet with a faculty or staff member at the ombuds office we develop “small” plans – things that can be done. Getting things done helps move people forward even in this uncertain time of covid. It’s also a time to refill and recharge. We are all tired. We’ve used up our buckets of resiliency and yet with the new year we will still need to draw on our strength.

One way to conserve energy is how you address communications in the workplace. In particular, how you deal with what feel like “hostile communications” particularly written ones (think emails).  One answer is to BIFF it!

‪I’ve previously posted about the BIFF method of addressing “hostile” communications (B-brief / I-informative / F-friendly / F-firm) developed by Bill Eddy and Megan Hunter from the High Conflict Institute in San Diego and here’s some additional guidance on its use.

In a recent linkedin post, California family attorney Leila Parviz, shared her thinking about how to BIFF that may be helpful to further consider its use.

“Brief: often one paragraph is enough”(Roy’s comment – I’m a fan of a few very short paragraphs – some paragraphs only one sentence long conveying one idea. If it’s too long it will invite further response.)

“Informative: Focus on concrete facts [like] numbers, information vs. argument, opinion”(Roy’s comment – use neutral language. Also, note that how you feel about something can also be a “fact” yet be careful about how you frame it if you share it!)

“Friendly: Open and end your response with friendly comments”(Roy’s comment – bookend your message to support the tone you want. Remember the idea is that you want the other person to actually read, think about and act constructively on your response. Or, you just want this to be the “end” of the communication.)

“Firm: Either be clear that you are ending the conversation or provide choices with a deadline to reply”(Roy’s comment – providing specific choices is a great idea and just be sure you are okay with any of them being chosen! If there aren’t really “choices” to frame in your response, then you can still be direct in closing the conversation. Be clear, concise, and, of course, Brief!)

Want some help crafting a BIFF??         

Have some other issue on your mind and want some help??

Not sure where to turn??

Go Ombuds !