Thursday, June 25, 2009

How to Stop Being Defensive

Defensive is an adjective, it describes a quality to defend. In psychology, protecting oneself from the outside influences or criticism or real or perceived threats to the ego, is termed as defensive behaviour. Defensive behavior is defined as that behavior which occurs when an individual perceives threat or anticipates threat in the group. The person who behaves defensively, even though he also gives some attention to the common task, devotes an appreciable portion of his energy to defending himself. Besides talking about the topic, he thinks about how he appears to others, how he may be seen more favorably, how he may win, dominate, impress, or escape punishment, and/or how he may avoid or mitigate a perceived or an anticipated attack.

Such inner feelings and outward acts tend to create similarly defensive postures in others; and, if unchecked, the ensuing circular response becomes increasingly destructive. Defensive behavior, in short, engenders defensive listening, and this in turn produces postural, facial, and verbal cues which raise the defense level of the original communicator

If you want to do well in any field in life, you need to be able to receive, interpret, and respond to feedback you get about your actions and progress in that field. It's always great to get positive feedback and to be told that what you are doing is wonderful.

It's much more difficult to deal with feedback which tells you that you are not so great, or that your endeavours are really rubbish. And it's very easy to get defensive at the slightest hint of criticism. But the truth is that negative feedback (if it is not a personal attack) is a very useful tool in developing your skills and talents, and showing you the areas where you need to improve.

There are several ways that you can think of to stop being defensive :-

1. Think First - This can be costly, if you refuse to think first and just react. Not to mention that you will miss what the other person is trying to say. It might be helpful for you.

2. Humble Yourself - This is not about chiming in and proving your defiance. Everything does not require a reply, try staying quiet and absorb what is being said. This will help things run more smoothly.

3. Ask A Question - If something was said that offended you, in your mind, pause for a second before you assume and ask them what they meant to avoid taking anything the wrong way.

4. Don't Be Wrong & Strong - People can forgive you if you say sorry and admit you're wrong. What most people have a bigger problem with, is knowing you're wrong but you continue arguing like you were right anyway.

5. Communicate Carefully- Either they are a friend or foe; the important factor is not what others say, but how you respond. Always be alert of what you say and how you say it.

6. Listen Closely - It's not what you feel like hearing, it's what's being said. It's very tempting to cut someone off and argue your point instead. Ask yourself is this really about the principle or just not having your short comings revealed?

7. Admit It - This shows the other person that you are not in denial and admit to your defensive ways. Be careful to not just admit fault because it sounds good or to end the fight. The next time you do it again, they might not be so forgiving and lose confidence in your integrity or ability to change.

8. Be Aware Of Your Issues - Be proactive to ending the cycle of being defensive. Write it down everyday about your new promise to end this self - destructive habit. Replace what you will not do any longer, with what you will do in its place. Always keep it in the back of your mind your weakness of being defensive, so when you feel yourself in a similar situation, it will alarm you to think carefully and optimistically before you respond.

9. Avoid Using Sorry Often - If you make a mistake, that's OK. If you make the same mistake routinely, it will be difficult for anyone to believe you're sincere or that you comprehend how deeply your issues truly are.

10. Think Positively - If you do not think good about yourself, your mind will default to thinking negatively about everything. And when you speak negatively it will show that is the way you think of yourself on the inside.

11. Don't Try To Force Your Opinion on Others - You might instill fear or manipulation into others. However, the only one that will hurt the most is you.

12. Stop Worrying About Other People
- If you continue to only worry about what part other people play, then you will never focus on the part you played and learn from it. Rather, you will keep making excuses, point blame and argue just to argue.

If you are lucky, someone who cares enough will point this out to you, so you can take the corrective steps to overcome being defensive. If you're wise, you won't wait any longer to start to change being defensive on your own.

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