September 25, 2022

Defensive Behavior – Expect It vs. Avoid It

Protective Habits– Anticipate It vs. Prevent It

Defensive Behavior – Expect It Vs. Avoid It

Everybody wants to be viewed as proficient and including value. When we provide individuals unfavorable feedback, we call those two things into concern and the brain instinctively responds. If you were driving down the roadway and the individual in front of you knocked on their brakes, its as. As an act of survival, you d hit your brakes too. When getting negative feedback is the very same instinctual reaction, becoming protective. We (practically) cant help ourselves. Rather than dread and avoid others protective habits, anticipate it and have a plan.

Defensive Behavior – Expect It Vs. Avoid It

Due to the fact that we do not desire to deal with the recipients defensive behavior, most of us avoid giving negative feedback. Were awaiting what I call, The Freak Out. The Freak Out is the predictable reaction to negative feedback.

Defensive Behavior – Expect It Vs. Avoid It

Here are 5 methods to deal with defensive behavior:

Defensive Behavior – Expect It Vs. Avoid It

Plan your discussion by composing notes and bringing them to your discussion. Im a fan of typed, double-spaced bullets that are simple to follow.
Practice what you wish to state out loud. What you state in your head is typically various than what comes out of your mouth.
Ask others for aid. Modification names and details to protect the feedback recipient and ask how somebody else may provide the feedback. Someone who is not emotionally involved will likely manage the discussion better.
When the feedback recipient exhibitions protective behavior, breathe and time out. Keep in mind that you expected this. Do not retract what youve said. Just let the individual speak.
Protective habits is designed to hinder discussions. Keep the conversation focused on the feedback.

Defensive Behavior – Expect It Vs. Avoid It

What to say when people respond to feedback defensively:

Defensive Behavior – Expect It Vs. Avoid It

Protective behavior: “Why are you talking to me? Im not the only one doing this.”

Defensive Behavior – Expect It Vs. Avoid It

The key is not to get baited by defensive behavior. This is why I recommend preparing and bringing notes. When Im having an especially challenging conversation and the other individual becomes defensive, I frequently end up being flustered and either forget what I wish to say or back pedal. Do neither. Expect protective habits. Dont get distracted. Remain on track. You can manage anything someone says.

Appropriate reaction: “I understand this is tough. Im asking you to __________. Please do that.”

Appropriate action: “Im sorry you feel that method. The reason Im asking you to ________ is _______.”

Protective behavior: “Youre incorrect. Everyone else has given me positive feedback.”

Appropriate action: “If others are doing this, I guarantee you that Im handling it. I understand this is difficult.

Proper reaction: “I understand that we disagree. And Im asking you to __________.”

Protective habits: “You dont like me and youre teasing me.”

Protective habits: “I disagree.”

About Shari Harley

Shari Harley is the founder and President of Candid Culture, a Denver-based training firm that is bringing sincerity back to the workplace, making it simpler to give feedback at work. Shari is the author of business communication book How to Say Anything to Anyone: A Guide to Building Business Relationships that Really Work. She is a keynote speaker at conferences and does training throughout the U.S. Learn more about Shari Harley and Candid Cultures training programs at

Tags: defensive behavior, offering unfavorable feedback, how to say anything to anyone, negative feedback

Most of us avoid providing unfavorable feedback due to the fact that we dont want to deal with the recipients defensive behavior. Rather than dread and prevent others defensive habits, expect it and have a plan.

When the feedback recipient exhibitions defensive behavior, take a breath and time out. Protective habits is created to derail conversations. Anticipate defensive behavior.