Conflict Resolution: Stop Being Defensive
We all get into conflict, and many of us struggle with conflict resolution. Those of you who follow me know I talk passionately about conflict resolution. The inability to resolve conflict is one of the main reasons relationships fail. Whether this is with a significant other, friend, or family member. Why is this? Why is it so hard for us to take criticism? Are we really defending ourselves or are we just being defensive? Let’s talk about it more in-depth. What is the difference?
Defending Yourself vs. Being Defensive
Defensiveness is a self-protective blurt in response to something insulting. Our self-esteem gets bruised and we jump to it at the speed of light. Defending yourself is an evaluation of criticism. An evaluation is something that requires thought and processing. Sometimes we see these two identically, as opposed to being different from one another. Evaluating criticism requires taking it in, and seeing what’s useful and taking the rest and discarding it. To put it another way, when we eat something we like, we take it in enjoy it and swallow it and let it digest. When we eat something we don’t like sometimes our knee jerk reaction is to spit it out.
Sometimes when we are being defensive, we have a knee jerk reaction, and we in fact spit out defensiveness. Sometimes it is hard not to right? Especially if we are dealing with a narcissist. If you have any experience dealing with a narcissist this may be a natural defense mechanism. It is important to realize the difference conflict resolution between a narcissist and someone who is not a narcissist.
Narcissists usually do whatever they can to destabilize you and if you are aware of this it is easy to be defensive. People who are not narcissists do not do this. We have to do better at understanding a person is either trying to destabilize us or actually giving us valid and warranted criticism.
Make It Sound Good. Make It Sound Good
In the words of Drake,” Make it sound good, make it souuunnnnnnnnnnnnd good” we are so focused on something sounding good rather than the actual message. We like to go through life avoiding being labeled as what we perceived as bad. We love good-sounding labels when it comes to how we feel and our egos. No one likes being told anything less than pleasant about themselves. Not one soul.
When we gut response in being defensive, we are giving ammunition, especially to a narcissist to shame and manipulate us. This in turn shifts the conflict from being about the actual issue to the RESPONSE. It just becomes a game of chicken. We have to do this less. Even with a narcissist, we have to be cognizant of how we respond in conflict because sometimes our response doesn’t help or even worsens a situation.
When someone accuses you of doing something that they do not like, own that you do it sometimes. We all do, and there is nothing wrong with owning that. That is how we grow.
How to Stop Being Defensive
Understand that people do not experience you sometimes in how you see yourself. Take the time and listen to what is being said, and ingest and digest it. Give it thought and respond to it rationally. We are human, we all have traits or do things that can be off-putting or downright offensive to others. We all have been intolerant, unreceptive, rude, dishonest, and uncaring. Learn from your mistakes, own them, and adjust as necessary.
This will save you a lot of emotional strife and turmoil in your relationships.