How to be Less Defensive

Love Yourself. Be Brave. Ask for Help.

Being defensive is usually a less than optimal way of responding. Being defensive serves to escalate the situation and create further barriers to meaningful communication. Whether something was said to you in spite, or you merely misinterpreted a comment, avoiding an aggressive response is often more prudent.

Discover some ways to stop being so defensive:

1) Recognize when you are defensive.

This is obviously step 1. Wait before you react, notice what’s going on. Are you really listening to the other person? Be curious rather than aggressive.

2) It isn’t personal.

We can all be grumpy. You might remind someone of their ex. Some individuals are just rude. Allow someone to have a bad day without allowing it to ruin yours. Everyone has their own biases and opinions.

3) Clarify.

We often jump to conclusions. Before you do, ask a few questions. Know what’s going on before taking things to the next level.

4) Pause.

How many times would you have changed your words or deeds if only you had waited 30 seconds? Give yourself a minute to respond if you’re feeling emotionally charged. Consider how much easier your life would be with simple pauses sprinkled throughout your day.

5) Believe in yourself.

If you have a healthy level of self-esteem, you’re much less likely to be defensive. Be comfortable with who you are.

6) Relax.

The more stressed you are, the more likely you are to respond quickly and inappropriately. When you’re calm and relaxed, you’re more capable of responding in a reasonable manner.

Make a list of activities that relax your mind and body. Spend time engaging in one of them each hour.

7) Be open to constructive feedback.

This might be the hardest one…

Well, no need to panic! First of all, figure out if the criticism is accurate. We may not recognize the areas in which we require a little work. Examine the criticism you receive from others and judge the accuracy. If it’s accurate, be grateful and apply the newfound knowledge. If it’s inaccurate, let it go and move on.

Realize that you’re less than perfect. If you can accept the fact that you don’t know everything, it’s easier to respond in a more appropriate way.

Be mature enough to admit when you’ve erred, rather than getting defensive. It will satisfy whomever you’re interacting with and defuse the situation.

8) Understand what being defensive is costing you.

Think about the consequences you’ve experienced by being defensive. Soured relationships, issues at work, alienated family members, and loneliness can all be consequences of overreacting.

Realizing the negative impact defensiveness can have on your life will enhance your motivation to change.

9) Do not confuse standing up for yourself with avoiding responsibility.

Standing up for yourself is massively important of course, but manipulating facts or words to suit the picture you’re painting of complete innocence is way less fascinating. Do not be scared, everyone makes mistakes. Not everyone learn from them.

Everyone has been overly defensive from time to time. It’s part of being human. But there are negative consequences to being overly defensive. If you can learn to be less defensive, your journey through life will be a lot less bumpy.