Feeling defensive is normal and natural. It’s what you do with that feeling that makes all the difference.
When confronted with something that makes you feel defensive (“the sink is full of dirty dishes!”), you have two options.
You can respond defensively: “Some of those dishes are yours! I haven’t had time!”
Or, you can check in with yourself and acknowledge how you’re feeling in the form of a repair attempt: “I’m feeling defensive.”
That statement works to get the conversation back on track.
You will likely feel defensive again in the future, but being aware of your reaction can turn the tide of a conversation for the better.
- 6 Steps to Mindfully Deal with Difficult Emotions
- How to Fight Smarter: Soften Your Start-Up
- How to Listen Without Getting Defensive
The Relationship Minute from The Gottman Institute, dated 15 October 2019. You can sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning.