Couples and Conflict: Defensiveness
by John E. Turner, LMFT and Sally Connolly, LMFT
Defensiveness is a block to
healthy communication and conflict resolution.
Do you prepare for an attack before it happens?
Do you believe that the best defense is a good offense?
When anyone feels attacked, it is normal to want to defend yourself; however, responding defensively when presented with a complaint is one way to end the opportunity for healthy conversation and connection in a relationship. It also opens the door for an escalating argument.
The best thing
to do when presented with a complaint is to slow down and find a way to
listen to your partner; possibly even entertaining the idea that they
might be right … or have a point worth considering.
Hearing another person’s complaints about you can feel very uncomfortable, and yet, you might learn something useful, if you can relax and take it from an “informational perspective.”
One of the most important things to remember when practicing listening rather than defending is that it truly gives you power. When someone else feels heard, they are much more likely to “hear”.