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How to Overcome Defensive Communication Behaviors

by Elyse James

People who have the tendency to be defensive are not always the easiest people to communicate with — especially if there is a problem or issue that needs to be discussed. Often, people will avoid confrontations with those who become defensive because they do not want to make the person upset or start an argument. If you are someone who becomes defensive when someone tries to communicate a problem to you, you might wish to adjust your communication style. Being defensive can hinder your performance in the workplace or at home and it is often a sign of deep-rooted self-esteem issues that should be resolved.

Admit that you are a defensive communicator and make a conscious decision to work on the problem. Many people do not want to admit that they are defensive. If anything, they will try to defend their position and explain why others might think they are defensive when they are actually not. Admitting your faults will help you actively work toward improving your communication style.

Listen carefully to exactly what the person is saying. Often, defensive communicators become distraught at the first sign of a problem or serious discussion. This causes them to block out what the person is actually saying. Instead of listening to the issue at hand, they are already forming a rebuttal. By taking the time to listen to what others are saying, you might realize that what they are saying doesn’t warrant excuses or a defensive attitude at all.

Choose your words carefully, knowing that you have a tendency to respond with a defensive comment. Before you say anything, ask yourself if what you are about to say is a defensive comment and if it is, reword your comments. Defensive people tend to speak off the cuff. Taking a few seconds to plan your response will help you control your communication.

Speak with a counselor or take part in activities that will help you build your self-esteem. People who have a high self-esteem are often able to take criticism and face their mistakes. Improving your concept of self-worth will make it easier for you to accept your faults and in turn, will help you be less defensive in the event that you do make a mistake.

Ask others to help you overcome the problem. Once you have admitted to your defensive behaviors, you can ask your close friends and family to help you overcome this issue. Ask them to inform you the next time you make excuses for your actions. You should never be afraid to ask those close to you to help you overcome a personal struggle. The more aware you are about your defensive attitude, the more able you will be to fix it.

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