You know what defensiveness feels like. It starts when your stomach gets filled with anxiety and it climbs up to your chest and wants to move through your voice box with the gathered momentum and be released on the offending party!!
Defensiveness is usually a natural reaction when something happens that doesn’t meet your expectation of how someone should treat you.
Let’s try something different. Think about that feeling in your stomach and convert it to curiosity. This sounds simple but, requires some work before hand to be sure you can to this.
Authentic curiosity starts with a certain kind of grace that moves toward respect. Grace gives us an opportunity to think the best of another person who may be difficult. It allows us to pull back from judgment and gives us a minute to consider their perspective. People always have a reason for what they say and do. From your perspective what they said or did may be crazy and we can all think of many examples. The crazier the item seems the bigger the reason they have for it. I’m not saying you need to agree with them or their reason their action.
I am inviting you to consider that when people “do crazy” it comes from a place of fear or lack or loss or emptiness and frankly the last thing they need from you is your judgment and contempt.
Knowing this will happen at some time in the future, would it be helpful to consider replacing defensiveness with curiosity? Here’s some benefits:
- It will buy you more time to think about the best possible response.
- They will feel safer in your presence and often talk through crazy and get to a better place simply being heard and respected with your authentic curiosity.
- Your best response brings no regrets.
- Your example is a powerful model to them and others that there is a better way.
It all starts in about ½ a second between stimulus and response. None of us are perfect but you’ll increase your odds of a positive outcome if you rehearse a curiosity filled response in advance of your next difficult encounter. Practice enough and replacing defensiveness with curiosity could change your life.