#6 Stop Being Defensive

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#6

Stop Being Defensive

In this series, I’ve talked about Identifying Your Triggers, Arguing Effectively, and Emotional Intelligence. They all speak to mastering awareness in your communication. Perhaps the most important and impactful element of this is the ability to stop getting defensive.

Defenses

We experience a sense of needing to ‘protect’ ourselves whenever we become afraid and perceive that we are at risk for losing something. Whenever we imagine that we are in danger of having less of or never having something… we also may feel afraid and we tend to want to fight. When we feel attacked, we want to fight back. Emotionally speaking, we aren’t taught effective strategies very often and unless the other person we are speaking with is also equipped with similar strategies, the communication is sure to break down quickly. The conversation can resemble a war zone.

Notice Defensiveness

First, you must make the effort to understand when you become defensive and how it feels in your body. Does your blood pressure rise? Your shoulders? Is there a tightness in your jaw? Does your heart race? Notice that they are the same symptoms of fear. It’s your parasympathetic nervous system getting ready for a fight.

Step Back

When you feel your body tightening, that’s the moment you know it’s imperative that you step back. Take a deep breath. Count to five. Get Grounded. Remember who you are – who you want to be. Think about something you love or really like about the person in front of you. If it’s a stranger or an estranged individual, remember that by engaging you are giving them YOUR power. Stop.

Back Down

Backing down from a confrontation demonstrates emotional mastery – not weakness. Think about how much intention it takes to get to this point after your fear or fight is activated. It takes great strength to step back and gain composure. Adopt the attitude that you will not engage in a confrontation infused with negative energy.

Once you take the defensive energy out of an interaction, you’ll be amazed at how it dies down – it’s akin to a fire without oxygen. Your confrontations turn into constructive discussions and problem solving when you get to the point where you can…

Stop being defensive.

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The ‘Right’ Trap

“Let go of your attachment to being right, and suddenly your mind is more open.” ~ Ralph Marston

I come from a long line of smart people who for one reason or another make it a habit of defending their point of view to the death. It is a habit I picked up early in life. I learned to debate and enjoyed the bantering with my father and brothers when the opportunity presented. I joined the debate club in school and excelled. It became a way of engaging that was familiar and comfortable. The whole point of a debate is to woo listeners to your point of view (POV) – based on facts and evidence of course. Often, the evidence presented is heavily weighted to justify the point of view you’ve taken, which – doesn’t necessarily make it ‘right’ but a solid perspective.

I was often accused of the offense of needing to be ‘right’ – of arguing my point until the listener acquiesced.  In reality, I wasn’t concerned with whether or not my POV was ‘right’ only that it was defended well. If I had the ‘facts’ wrong – so be it. I’ve always enjoyed learning so if I had a chance to educate myself, I was better for it. Being right was never the objective – just persuasive. I suspect that’s what made me good in sales… another trait that is evident in my family.

The whole idea of right versus wrong is a human one… it is born of morality and therefore does not have a definitive origin or definition. The same is said of the words good and bad. We ascertain definitions of these four words via our culture, our religion, our feelings, our relationships, and interests to name a few of the origins. Therefore, from person to person, the parameters of what constitute those words can vary; and consequently… cause interpretation problems.

H and I went to see Rogue One today and during one of the intense fight scenes toward the end of the movie, I thought I saw Chewbacca in one of the fighters. It was a nanosecond shot and of course, I couldn’t rewind to make sure I saw it. Continue reading