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How high-conflict personalities capture high office

BILL EDDY: High-Conflict Personalities or people with those, and I refer to them as HCPs, have four key characteristics that make some of them want to be political leaders. They love to blame other people. They're preoccupied with other people's behavior. There's a lot of all-or-nothing thinking. And for politicians, it's all-or-nothing solutions to problems. They have unmanaged emotions or intense emotions. And they actually shift everything to the emotional side, which helps give them power. But lastly, they have extreme behaviors, behaviors that 90% of people would never have, maybe even 99% of people, when they become high-conflict politicians.

Human beings like to be independent. They like to do things their own way. But when there's a crisis, they'll follow a leader. And so when a high-conflict personality wants to become a leader, first of all, they don't have good problem-solving skills. And they don't have good leadership skills. So what happens is, to become a leader, they have to create a crisis or just say something is a crisis-- say, there's an evil villain over there related to this-- or caused the crisis-- and I'm a hero. And if people identify them with the image of a strong man, an image of a hero, then they will follow that person. But wait a minute. There isn't really a crisis. And this person isn't really a hero. And there isn't really a villain.

In general, the world is much better off than it's ever been. There's less hunger. People live longer-- all of this. But the message that grabs our attention is crisis-- Fear, conflict, chaos. And so we're fed that, in many ways, because we want to be fed that. We're shifting from reading the news and talking about it in a matter-of-fact manner to high emotions. It's faces. It's voices. It grabs your attention. And it's like constant advertising. You don't even have to think. Your brain absorbs this information. So we see all these leaders around the world. The ones who are the most high-conflict personality are the ones who come forward in this face-and-voice news environment. And they grab your attention. They grab your brain. And they make up stories. It doesn't matter if they're true or false. It's the best stories. And the modern media-- inadvertently I think-- is Would have just stayed on the fringes, who everyone would have laughed at and said, you're just way out-of-line here.

High-conflict politicians always have a love-hate relationship with the media. And the reason for this is they love the attention. But they don't like or they hate the interpretation. And so they want to fight the interpretation. But that helps with the drama, because if they're in conflict-- if they say, well, your reporters can't attend my event, only these reporters can, that's more conflict. That's more chaos-- more crisis, more fear. And people are afraid-- uh-oh-- if I step on this person's toes, we won't get to have our reporter there. So it just adds to the drama. But the key thing that happens is the media repeats the emotional messages of the high-conflict politician. And that just sails on through. And that's what gets into our brain, without even thinking, like advertising.

Emotional repetition is the key to how high-conflict politicians communicate with and excite everybody. They excite their followers. But they also make their opponents angry and ineffective, as they get emotionally hooked and fight with each other. The parts of our brain that are paying attention the most to human emotions are the relationship parts of our brain. And so they can form a relationship with people by doing this at an emotional level, without really thinking. And in many ways, it's a seduction process, just like a con man would seduce a woman that they want their credit card or they want to marry them and then spend their money on the next person. They say all these emotional things. You're wonderful. You're beautiful. You're the best thing that ever happened to me. And high-conflict politicians say, you're wonderful. We agree with each other. We're the best thing for each other. When in fact, it's all calculated.

  • High-conflict personalities possesses 4 qualities that may encourage them to become politicians.
  • Overly emotional communication suits high-conflict personalities and drives the media to cover them.
  • As with any conman, relationships with high-conflict personalities are calculated and transactional.


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