The Downfall of Defensiveness

As a manager, do you welcome different points of view or do you get defensive when yours is challenged?  This is a very common reaction amongst people that when a question is asked or a comment made that seems different from what we’ve proposed.  Defensiveness in fact is so prevalent and therefore seems so natural, that it may be going on under your EQ-Life Intelligence radar.


The first problem with defending is that it puts us into a corner; has us “positional”. And that closes us down to being open to additional possibilities.  As a manager and one who should be setting an example for your team, this is not a productive place from which to operate.


The second effect that defensiveness often has is to set up a battle of the protective minds. Someone stimulates you’re defense mechanism, you counter with an even stronger stance about a subject, then their mind feels a threat and defends their own position. Now conflict ensues stalling a solution or co-agreement.


In our management training classes and resilience training programs, we explore how this negative process impedes problem solving and weakens one’s resilience.


What to do? First, start a practice of noticing when your mind leaps to your defense. That noticing creates a moment of choice: to defend or to listen openly. When you put the defense mechanism aside for at least a little while, there is space to take in new information or perspectives that may have some value. This neutral time allows you to more intelligently assess the greater body of information (yours and theirs) and choose where to go from there. It may be to stick with your original view or to tweak that a bit which results in a better way forward and a more melded approach with the other person(s).


Like most things worthwhile, this practice may be hard at first, but the new process and more beneficial results are truly worth the effort. The Management Training Institute truly believes that it simply doesn’t serve you, your team, or your organization to be closed minded (a habituated defender).  And the Resilience Training Institute knows that being more open minded to explore alternative possibilities has you being more overall successful, and that success strengthens us bringing us greater resilience.