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If you’re dealing with an ex that has a high conflict personality, this trick may help you handle their antics without additional drama.

What Is It?

The Grey Rock Method is a communication strategy to deal with high-conflict personalities. Though it’s commonly discussed with narcissistic personality disorder, you don’t have to be dealing with someone who has narcissistic personality disorder in order to reap the benefits of the grey rock method. In fact, it’s estimated that only around 2% to 4% of the population have narcissistic personality disorder. If you’re going through a divorce and your partner doesn’t have narcissistic personality disorder, you may still benefit from using the Grey Rock Method, especially if your spouse has a tendency to cause conflict. It’s called the Grey Rock Method because those who are using it are supposed to become as uninteresting as a grey rock, causing the conflict-prone individual to look elsewhere when they’re interested in picking a fight.

Why Does It Work?

The Grey Rock Method works because those who have high-conflict personalities generally act in ways to get a reaction out of people. If a person has been professionally diagnosed with a personality disorder, specifically a cluster B personality disorder, they may act out in ways to get attention from others. Those with narcissistic personality disorder may be looking for a way to exert power and control over others. A person with borderline personality disorder may be looking to provoke emotional responses from others for the sake of validation. When you become a grey rock, you become less interesting to people who are conflict-prone because you consistently exhibit a disinterested and disengaged attitude toward conflict. Those with high-conflict personalities eventually realize that you’re not going to provide them with the reactions they’re seeking, and they move on to seek such reactions from other people.

Short Answers

When a high conflict person is attempting to get a reaction out of you, you can become a grey rock by giving them short answers. It’s important to give them short, neutral answers. If you give them an emotionally charged answer, you’ll have given them exactly what they’re looking for, no matter how short your response was. When you’re becoming a grey rock, it’s best not to get personal or vulnerable, as that could easily be used against you, especially when the high-conflict person is attempting to get a reaction out of you. Whenever possible, keep your answers short and to the point, and don’t use language or punctuation that is emotionally charged.

Neutral Responses

As previously mentioned, all your responses should be neutral. If you’re dealing with a high-conflict person, neutral responses can prevent them from using your emotions as a road map for creating chaos. It’s not uncommon for people to be forced to deal with their spouses during the divorce process. Even if you don’t have children, you likely won’t be able to completely go no contact with your spouse until the divorce is finalized. When you and your ex are discussing the terms of the divorce, you may not always be able to get away with short responses. After all, some conversations demand full sentences. If you do need to have a long discussion with your ex, make sure your responses are as neutral as possible.


If your spouse has a high conflict personality, it’s a good idea to steer clear of interaction unless it’s absolutely necessary. As previously mentioned, there may be times when you do need to interact with your ex, especially if you have children together. However, the less you interact with your spouse, the more uninteresting you’ll become. If you’re dealing with a high-conflict person, they’re likely reaching out to you quite a bit in an attempt to provoke you. In a situation like this, the worst thing you can do is add fuel to the fire by reaching out to your ex in order to provoke them. If possible, avoid unnecessary communication with the high-conflict person at all costs.

When In Doubt, Disengage

When it comes to using the Grey Rock Method, things can get worse before they get better. The person you’re grey rocking may wonder why you’ve changed, and why they no longer have control over you and your emotions. Those with high-conflict personalities are prone to acting out during these times. If you’ve just started to use the Grey Rock Method, and your spouse is acting out in an attempt to get a reaction out of you, it’s time to disengage from the conversation.

When You’re Filing for Divorce

If you’ve tried everything, and it’s time to get a divorce, CoilLaw is here for you. Our attorneys are ready to help you get the legal advice you need to protect yourself and your rights. Contact us today to get started with your initial consultation.


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