Why People Get Defensive and 3 Tips for Breaking the Habit

By Mark Tyrell, UncommonHelp.me

Tip 1:  Don’t feel you have to defend everything

Only a fool (or a politician) thinks that everyone else must always think the way they themselves do.

“Are you calling me a fool?!”

“No, relax. I was just saying…”

You build and convey genuine confidence when you can relax with other people having their own perspectives and not seeing things your way.  People who use a lot of personal pronouns (I, me, mine, myself) may be more defensive than most because they are relating more things back to themselves personally.  When you can relax confidently with knowing what you like and believe in, then you won’t have to justify your ideas all the time.  Is defensiveness a form of ‘control freakery’ in some people?

Tip 2:  Are you responding now as you needed to back then?

Most people are not out to get you. Not now. But it might seem as if they are if you’ve lived through periods in which you genuinely were set upon, targeted, or abused. Regularly ask yourself: “Am I responding like this because of the way I was treated in the past?”  Then make a point of focusing on all the differences between then and now.

Tip 3:  Practice letting water slide off a duck’s back…

…Or, since I’m offering aphorisms: “a rolling stone gathers no moss”.  Like Tip 1, practice letting others’ words or actions (up to a point, of course) run off you.

Think about times when you were typically overly defensive.  Times where, in retrospect, your response seemed above and beyond what was necessary.  What got your goat?  Close your eyes and relax whilst imagining yourself responding more evenly and in a measured way.

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