-This week is all about defensive behavior…in other people of course. When we see it in others we act like this is a “bad” thing. And it is so easy to see in other people too isn’t it? We all wish that we could respond like George Costanza with such calmness even when being defensive and fired.
Defensiveness; what exactly are we talking about? Here is a definition that I like even thought it may seem a little extreme. Defensive behavior can be seen as reacting with a war-like mentality to a non-war event. The word “react” is good because that is often what defensive behavior shows up as; a reaction versus a response. Reacting implies no “choice” of how we are being in the moment.
First, we really would do well to understand more about our brains. Defensiveness isn’t necessarily our fault. First we need to understand the negativity bias which says that we are essentially built to be defensive and to look for threat. Our brain can’t tell the difference between a threat to our physical survival and a threat to our identity, basically. And our defensiveness is based on fear.
Another big question that arises beyond how we handle our own defensiveness is how do we handle another person’s defensiveness? Defensiveness seems to begat defensiveness. We often take another person’s defensiveness personally and we often think the other person is the “cause” of our defensiveness. This is where the issue really begins and ends. Coupled with the fact that we make ourselves and others wrong for becoming defensive. In the moment, it can seem very impossible to de-personalize the defensiveness.
Stay with us this week as we discuss what to do and how to work through our defensiveness and support others to do the same.
What has worked well for you?