One of my biggest flaws is that I respond defensively to people.  For example, when someone criticizes me, my typical response is to defend myself and/or say something about that person that is “worse” than what they said about me.  Now I’ve known about this for years and made great strides in improving my reactions to things.  However, in times of stress or difficulty I very often revert back to my defensive ways.  So now what?  The first thing when attempting to solve any problem is to identify it, make yourself aware of it and then attempt to solve it.

Here are some things I can identify with

  • When we get defensive, we make it that much harder for our conversational counterparts to hear what we’re saying. We also make it harder to really listen to what *they* have to say. – Matt Goulston
  • Nothing in life is as destructive to good communication and healthy relationships as defensiveness – Alisa Valdes
  • Nothing blinds us to our long-term goals more than acting impulsively and defensively in the face of perceived criticism – Alisa Valdes
  • Nothing is better at making us commit acts of self-sabotage than lashing out when we feel attacked. – Alisa Valdes
  • In our reactions, our emotions take a central role. The hair on our neck stands on end. We feel our stomach turn. Our face heats up and our defenses are on red alert – Jon Mertz
  • We let emotions without reason drive us forward. We lose control. Reacting is sporadic and emotional – Jon Mertz

Here are some solutions that resonate with me

  • Don’t defend, don’t retaliate, seek a solution instead. – Matt Goulston
  • Next time I’m in a confrontational spot I could say, “Whoah! Let’s each take a breath here because I am feeling very reactive and I know until I calm down a bit, whatever I say or do now will only make this conversation worse. And I am not going to do that.” – Matt Goulston
  • Like myself more; secure people can handle others’ negative opinions better, period – Alisa Valdes
  • Accept that I’m not perfect – Alisa Valdes
  • The upside of a solid response is an engaging conversation, all positive and all civil. We learn. We grow. We listen. We respond. We act forthrightly and from within – Jon Mertz

What did I learn?

So the next time I’m in a situation that I feel defensive about these are the steps I’m going to take

  • Take a breath
  • Be aware of my body and what I’m feeling
  • Prevent myself from responding immediately and instead
  • Mirror what the person said back to them
  • Release tension
  • Get a better understanding of what they said
  • Once I know that I fully understand the person, if I still disagree, then seek a solution







Share →