Have you ever gone into defensive mode after a co-worker or client criticised you?
Do you remember your walls going up, and all you want to do is shift the focus away from the critical remark.
Defensiveness describes ways in which we react towards another person after they criticize us. It’s a coping mechanism that happens after being criticised. As opposed to listening to the criticism, when someone is defensive, they shift focus away from the criticism by criticising back or giving someone the silent treatment.
Instead of dealing with the conflict or criticism, defensiveness shows up as a way to protect yourself.
Everyone has felt defensive before. It’s a completely normal reaction to criticism. However, in the long run, defensiveness can block us from both connecting to others and growing as a person.
There are a few reasons why people may react to criticism with defensiveness. Maybe they did not receive the unconditional support that makes us feel confident as a child. Perhaps there is underlying jealousy or resentment. Defensiveness could also be a result of anxiety or poor assertiveness. Sometimes, defensiveness also reflects guilt or shame that a person wants to keep hidden.
Overall, defensiveness stems from fear or insecurity.
If someone is defensive, that defensiveness gives them an illusion of control. However, if we are constantly defensive, deflecting criticism or blame, how can we grow or work well with others?
Are you wondering how defensiveness might play out in your interactions? There are common types of defensiveness that we might display when we react to criticism.
3 Common Types of Defensiveness:
Remember, defensiveness is a completely normal reaction. But it can prevent you from having productive and harmonious relationships. To strengthen your relationships, you can implement different strategies to feel less defensive.
Action steps to resolve a disagreement when you feel yourself becoming defensive:
Feelings of criticism may arise of any relationship, business or personal. They manner in which you respond to those feelings will determine whether they lead to a destructive or constructive outcome.
Patrick Loke is the founder of Actual Impact Consulting and Portrait Photography Profits. He has over 20 years experience owning and running both online and traditional businesses. He has performed as a sales and marketing consultant to small and medium sized enterprises since 2012.