DEFENDING AGAINST DEFENSIVENESS
By Elaine Kamm
It’s inevitable that in our interactions with others at work, there will be times when we hear things that make us feel that we are being unfairly criticized or attacked. A natural reaction to a “perceived assault or threat” is to become defensive, and yet defensiveness can damage relationships as well as our ability to hear things that we might need to be aware of. Here are some tips to guard against defensive communication.
Have you ever wondered why it seems so natural to talk with some people and so difficult with others? Have you noticed that some people seem to just “get” what you’re saying and others cannot relate? Ever feel like you and the other person are just speaking a different language?
You don’t have to look far to find a list of techniques and models to help people deliver constructive feedback to others. Yet even when we diligently use these techniques (e.g. describing without attacking, being specific versus vague, pointing out the impact of one’s behavior), we often still find that people’s reaction to our feedback is not what we had hoped for.
Although there are many reasons for unsuccessful feedback attempts, here are 3 commonly overlooked “feedback traps” and how to avoid them.
When you think of a good communicator, what are the descriptors that come to mind? Compelling? Convincing? Good presentation skills? Ability to have conversations with many types of people? Clear and concise? Such communication attributes help to establish personal credibility and influence others, which is important for many types of professionals, and absolutely critical for leaders. Yet, they are most certainly not the only types of communication that are essential and there tends to be an over-reliance on their importance.