Some tips on how to avoid defensive behavior.

What do you do when you are challenged? How do you deal with conflict? Do you deal well with people poking at your ideas or your authority? How do you deal with aggressive refusal?

 

It is easy to find ourselves in a reactive state, especially when people are questioning our ideas. It is also easy to take a positional stance and then defend it. It's hard to separate ourselves from our ideas or beliefs and we can wind up looking unprepared, stubborn, emotional, or even volatile.

 

Being able to handle hot topics, criticism, or button pushers, aggressive individuals and even bullies is incredibly important to maintain respect from your staff and peers. If we let our emotions catch us off guard we can lose our cool in important moments, and bouncing back from that is difficult.

 

In this great video  from Big Think, Stephen Miles outlines a couple of simple things that you can start doing right away to explore fully the reasons this person is poking at you or your ideas, to show them they have been heard and validate that they have an opinion or position without diminishing yours.

 

In asking questions, not only do you put some of the onus on them, but you are also creating space, and this is incredibly vital to a positive outcome. Space means two things:

 

1. They have room to speak out, which means they can tell whatever story they have. Stephen mentions the need for validation people have, it costs you nothing to give them that.

 

2. You have room. You can get your proper state back, you can consider what they are saying, you can look for the points you do agree on and ask the right questions to move things forward.

 

There are also different types of questions you can use to aid in understanding and to help them see different possibilities... but that is a topic for another time.

 

Asking questions opens you up to learning what might be underlying that person's concerns. You become active in exploring options, you show respect for your peers or followers which only adds to their respect for you, and who knows, you might even get enough proof to change your opinion.

 

If you really want to improve...

Practice. Get better.™

 

 

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