The Mindful Leadership Blog

Just In! Get Defensive and Get Manipulated

September 14th, 2017

What’s hot?

According to Aaron Karmin, licensed clinical professional counselor, certified clinical hypnotherapist and author of “Anger Management Workbook,” people who get angry and defensive are likely to crash and burn.

So what?

Karmin reports that anger is an instinctual emotional response to a real or imagined threat. When we feel attacked, our logical thought processes take a back seat and we respond with emotional reactions aimed at protecting ourselves. When we get into a defensive mode, we are very vulnerable to being manipulated. Others expect us to be unreasonable and/or immature and we end up in a lose-lose tug of war.

What to do?

Be the adult in the room. You can avoid the dangers of defensiveness when you:

1. Do not jump to explain yourself if you are attacked in a public forum. This does not mean you agree with the attacker. However, there is a benefit to demonstrating calm. Why try to explain yourself when you are not guilty? Instead of a defensive response, say something like I would like to explore that with you. We can probably achieve more if we talk about it after the meeting. A calm rational response typically knocks the attacker off the horse he/she rode in on.

2. A slow, measured, calm response also works well if you are attacked in a private setting. Tell yourself there is no urgency to explain yourself – you are not in a court of law. The “I rational” approach is a powerful way to stop an attacker in their tracks. Here’s an example:

I (state your reaction such as I get angry/frustrated/resistant) when you (describe the attacker’s behavior – such as when you say I don’t know what I’m doing) What I would prefer is (describe what you would like the other to do – such as come to me immediately when you see a potential problem with my work.) Can you do that?

Bottom Line: don’t get manipulated into defensiveness – it’s like wrestling with a pig, you both get dirty and the pig loves it!

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