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Reducing Defensiveness

Defensiveness and communication in relationship

Defensiveness is a natural response to criticism, blame, or accusations that we feel are unjust or unwarranted. However, when defensiveness becomes our default response, it can hinder our ability to communicate effectively and can certainly damage relationships over time.

Just think about your own experience. How often would you say defensiveness plays a part in negative conversations or arguments? Probably quite often.

Fortunately, there are steps we can take to reduce defensiveness and cultivate more constructive responses. In this post, we’ll give you five suggestions for less defensive responses and better communication.

Recognize your triggers

The first step in reducing defensiveness is to become aware of your triggers. What situations or comments tend to make you defensive? Do you feel defensive when someone questions your competence, integrity, or motives? Are you more likely to become defensive when you're feeling stressed, tired, or insecure?

Once you've identified your triggers, you can work on managing your emotional responses. This might involve taking a deep breath, counting to ten, or reminding yourself to stay calm and objective.

Listen actively, ask questions

Active listening is a crucial skill for reducing defensiveness. When we feel attacked or criticized, our natural inclination is to defend ourselves, which often means interrupting or talking over the other person. However, this only escalates the conflict and makes it harder to find a resolution.

Instead, try to listen actively to the other person's perspective. Ask open-ended questions to clarify their concerns, and paraphrase their comments to ensure that you understand their point of view. This not only shows that you're willing to listen, but it also helps to defuse any tension or hostility.

Take responsibility

One of the most effective ways to reduce defensiveness is to take responsibility for your actions and reactions. If you've made a mistake or if someone has a legitimate complaint, don't try to shift the blame or make excuses. Instead, acknowledge the issue and take steps to address it.

By taking responsibility, you demonstrate that you're committed to finding a solution and that you're willing to learn from your mistakes. This can go a long way towards building trust and repairing damaged relationships.

Use "I" statements

When communicating your own feelings or concerns, use "I" statements rather than "you" statements. For example, instead of saying "you're wrong," say "I see things differently." Instead of saying, “You’re always blaming me!”, say, “I was making up you were blaming me … what was your perspective?”

This helps to avoid accusatory language and shows that you're expressing your own perspective rather than attacking the other person.

Practice empathy

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. When we practice empathy, we're better able to connect with others and find common ground. This can be especially helpful in reducing defensiveness, as it shows that we're willing to see things from the other person's perspective.

To practice empathy, try to put yourself in the other person's shoes. Imagine how they might be feeling and what they might be thinking. This can help you to approach the situation with greater understanding and compassion.

Whenever you feel defensive, it’s a fair guess your partner is feeling angry, frustrated, or defensive. So you can be pretty sure you’re both feeling bad. That’s a good starting point for empathy, as if you’re saying, “Oh, you’re feeling bad too … me too. Neither of us like this”.

Reducing defensiveness takes practice and patience. It's important to remember that defensiveness is a natural human response, and that it's okay to feel defensive from time to time. However, by taking steps to manage our emotional responses and communicate more effectively, you can build stronger, more positive relationships with your partner and those around you.

♥️ Sonika & Christian


LoveWorks: We believe relationships are meant to be an empowering, fun, passionate, safe place to grow, love, and learn. Where we get to be more of who we are, not less. We know it’s not always easy, but it can definitely be easier! With our unique and practical approach to relationship, you learn how to resolve conflicts quickly and enjoy fulfilling intimacy for the rest of your life. To learn more or contact us, visit


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