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  • Writer's pictureMichele Evanson

Disarming Defensive Behavior

One way to comprehend communication is to see it as a people process instead of a language process. One possible kind of alteration that is concerning in the workplace, is how to decrease the degree of defensiveness among co-workers. Defensive behavior is defined as the behavior which happens when a person perceives or anticipates a threat from an individual. The individual who behaves defensively devotes a significant part of energy to protecting herself or himself. As an individual becomes increasingly more defensive, she or he gets less and less able to correctly perceive the motives, the values and the emotions of the sender. Defensive behavior, in summary, engenders defensive listening, which then produces postural, verbal and facial cues that increase the defense degree of the original communicator. Defense arousal prevents listening.

In the workplace, an increase in defensive behavior among individuals is correlated with a loss in efficiency and communication. This exercise will allow an individual time before jumping into a defensive behavior which closes a 2-way conversation:

Before you become defensive STOP & LISTEN without judgment to the other person. HOLD YOUR TONGUE. When you feel like interrupting STOP close and your mouth and count to 10 if need be. Refrain from offering advice unless you are specifically asked for suggestions.

Encouraging better listening and open communication among individuals will reduce defensive feelings and increases a positive work environment.

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