We may not realize it, but most of us know someone with a combative personality. Perhaps we are that person ourselves! Whatever the case may be, it is important to understand what a combative personality is and how to deal with people that possess these traits.
What are High-Conflict People (HCP)?
Conflict is a natural part of human life. We can’t all agree all the time, but certain people seem to run into conflict more often than others. Those seemingly always in conflict with others are known as high-conflict people or HCPs. They exhibit certain behavior patterns towards other people regularly that are not considered helpful or useful for society.
These behaviors may include the following:
- All or nothing thinking (aka “my way or the highway”)
- Emotions that they can’t seem to control
- Blaming other people for their issues
It is dangerous to exist in this type of mindset for too long of a period. People who only want to blame others for the problems they run into are doing themselves and others some harm. They are shifting away from the ability to own up to their problems and try to fix them in favor of simply feeling like a victim who can do nothing about their issues except complain.
As you might be able to imagine, it is often the case that people who shift blame away from themselves are doing nothing more than prolonging their problems.
Is There a Diagnosis of High Conflict Behavior?
There is not currently an official medical diagnosis for high conflict behavior. This means that it can be challenging to point at one person or another and definitively say that they have exhibited high conflict behavior from a medical point of view.
You can only look at their behavior and know what is going on based on what you have personally observed. Thus, it is important to look for some warning signs that someone may possess a high conflict personality.
Warning Signs of High Conflict Behavior
We have briefly touched on the signs that someone may possess a high conflict personality. People should also be attuned to the fact that there are warning signs they can look out for when it comes to the high conflict behavior that is considered problematic.
- Inability to manage emotions – Adults should be able to have a reasonable conversation with one another, even on topics about which they disagree. While it is typical for emotions to become somewhat heightened when controversial topics are introduced into the conversation, it is unreasonable to not have any ability to manage one’s emotions when discussing any topic. It should be possible to keep your voice at an even level and keep your emotions in check even as you are discussing something that you disagree about. If someone cannot do so, they may have a combative personality.
- Blaming others for problems – It is possible for any of us to fall into the trap of blaming others for some of the problems and issues we know we have brought upon ourselves. It is much easier to shift the blame to others when we don’t necessarily want to take responsibility for our actions (or lack of action). However, when someone seemingly cannot get away from blaming others for all of their problems, it is possible that this person has a combative personality.
- Spreading rumors about others – Interestingly, a person with a combative personality may be more prone to rumors about others. They look around and see that they can kick up some dust about someone that they do not personally like, and they may go for it. Combative people are more likely to pull this tactic than most others. They simply do not care who might get hurt in the process. They are out for revenge or to settle a score, which is why they will do whatever they feel necessary to take someone else down a notch.
It is incredibly important to look out for the warning signs of someone with a combative personality. People may want to avoid such a person in general, or at least want to ensure they know what they are dealing with. It is a very positive to at least know what one is dealing with when it comes to combative personalities.
How to Deal with Someone with a Combative Personality
There are situations when someone with a combative personality may be unavoidable. In some cases, they may be colleagues or roommates, or they may even be a loved one. If it is impossible to avoid dealing with someone with a combative personality, people should at least know the steps they can take to prevent as much damage as possible.
Connect with Empathy
Try to connect with the person and show them some empathy. They deserve that, and loved ones need to do what you can to ensure they know they are understood. It may also help defuse a difficult situation.
Evaluate Your Options
Try to go over all the options available when dealing with a combative personality. People have many choices, and it is best to look over them before taking any direct action.
Minimize Your Risk
In some situations, one simply needs to avoid a person with a combative personality outright. People may discover that they can do little or nothing to help them, and the best thing to do in that situation is to avoid the situation and minimize one’s risk of harm.
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