应对防御之心 | Dealing With Defensiveness
Defensiveness can take on many forms. These are often called defense mechanisms in the psychology world. It is important to remember that everyone has defense mechanisms and that they are a normal and primitive part of social development. They are most obviously seen in small children. If a toddler wants to avoid bath time, they run away. This doesn’t mean they will successfully avoid bath time but they are avoiding the conflict or perceived “threat”. Yes, bath time is the perceived threat, even though it logically is not a threat, the mind of a 2-year-old views it as something they don’t want to do. This is an important point because it can be difficult to understand sometimes what the “perceived threat” is and sometimes can be hard to pick up on the defense mechanism.
As we get older, we get better at defense mechanisms. Instead of running out of a stressful meeting, perhaps we simply shut down and don’t contribute. A good sign of someone feeling defensive is if there is some form of passing blame and/or taking a victim role. Common defensive mechanisms are denial, avoidance, acting out, compartmentalization, and even regression.
How do I deal with someone being defensive?
Stop being so defensive!
This is a common response to a defensive person, and perhaps a response you have even used. It is safe to say that it most likely did not help the situation. The definition of defensiveness is to form a sense of self-protection in the face of a perceived attack. If you were in a war, would you call off the army simply because your enemy told you to “stop”? Of course not. We need to take actions that can neutralize the threat.
Avoid using “blame” language
Don’t start a sentence with “you,” as in “You got it wrong again!” or “You just don’t care about how I feel!” Also, avoid using “always” and “never.”
Start with a positive note
Before pointing out a critique, be appreciative and acknowledge what the other person has done. For example, “I appreciate how much effort you had put in this project, but let’s regroup and see how we can steer towards the success path...”
Don’t lose your temper
Losing your cool just adds fuel to the fire. Put down that pitchfork and stay focused on the feelings of hurt behind the defensive behavior. Slow down, and take several deep breaths.
Find the reason
The reasons for defensiveness are myriad and important to understand, perhaps the criticism plays into a bigger part of their insecurities. For your beloved ones, you may help them learn how to rewire themselves away from the impulse to instant self-protect or encourage them to seek professional help to resolve deeper issues.
How should I cope with my own defensiveness?
Think before you respond
The next time someone rubs you the wrong way, or you think they’ve said something that’s absolutely ridiculous, do not respond with a snappy comeback. Instead, take a few minutes to cool off and respond later with a clearer head.
Manage your stress
Defensiveness can be out of control on stressful days. Take some deep breaths to keep stress levels in check. Arrange yoga, meditation or other stress management activities part of your weekly routine.
Look for some common ground
如果你发现自己和某人 - 可能是你的朋友或另一半 - 总是处于一种防御模式，你应该停下来寻找一些共同点。双方都同意的是什么？将你们之间的交流模式从对抗转换为协同。
If you found yourself in a defensive mode back and forth with someone – maybe your friend or spouse – stop and look for some common ground. What do you both agree on? Shift the exchange out of combat into collaboration.
Get To Know Yourself Better
Does it feel like everything pisses you off? If so, it could be time for some inner reflection. If we have a strong sense of self, and have worked through our issues, people are not able to push our buttons and make us defensive. Yes, it will take a lot of work, and may need supports from your family or even experts, but the result will be a new and improved (and calmer) you.
Defensiveness is a powerful clue to our areas of needed growth.
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