Conflict Resolution: Stop Being Defensive

Conflict Resolution: Stop Being Defensive

Conflict Resolution: Stop Being Defensive

We all get into conflict, and many of us struggle with conflict resolution. Conflict resolution skills are not a strong point for many individuals. Those of you who follow me know I talk passionately about conflict resolution in personal relationships. The inability to resolve conflict is one of the main reasons relationships fail. Whether this is with a significant other, friend, or family member. Why is this? Why is it so hard for us to take criticism? Are we really defending ourselves or are we just being defensive? Let’s talk about it more in-depth.

Peaceful resolution is what we would all like in our personal relationships, but again our conflict resolution skills are a little rusty.  Sometimes we handle conflict without realizing the costs of conflict. What is conflict resolution? The definition of conflict resolution is the reduction of discord and friction between individuals. What is the difference?

conflict resolution

Stop Being Defensive

Defensiveness is a self-protective blurt in response to something insulting. Our self-esteem gets bruised and we jump to it at the speed of light. Defending yourself is an evaluation of criticism, a stress response. An evaluation is something that requires thought and processing. Sometimes we see these two identically, as opposed to being different from one another. Evaluating criticism requires taking it in, seeing what’s useful, and taking the rest and discarding it. To put it another way, when we eat something we like, we take it in enjoy it and swallow it and let it digest. When we eat something we don’t like sometimes our knee-jerk reaction is to spit it out.

Sometimes when we are being defensive, we have a knee-jerk reaction, and we in fact spit out defensiveness. This leads to interpersonal conflict.  Sometimes it is hard not to right? Especially if we are dealing with a narcissist. If you have any experience dealing with a narcissist this may be a natural defense mechanism. It is important to realize the different conflict resolutions between a narcissist and someone who is not a narcissist. These exchanges with them seem like impossible conflicts. In my other posts, I discuss more on how to disarm them without making the conflict worse.

Narcissists usually do whatever they can to destabilize you and if you are aware of this it is easy to be defensive. People who are not narcissists do not do this. We have to do better at understanding a person is either trying to destabilize us or actually giving us valid and warranted criticism. I talk plenty about narcissists in other posts, but this a little taste in case you are dealing with one.

Make It Sound Good. Make It Sound Good

In the words of Drake,” Make it sound good, make it souuunnnnnnnnnnnnd good” we are so focused on something sounding good rather than the actual message. We like to go through life avoiding being labeled as what we perceived as bad. We love good-sounding labels when it comes to how we feel and our egos. No one likes being told anything less than pleasant about themselves. Not one soul.

When we gut response in being defensive, we are giving ammunition, especially to a narcissist to shame and manipulate us. This in turn shifts the conflict from being about the actual issue to the RESPONSE. It just becomes a game of chicken. We have to do this less. Remember to stay within the actual conflict and not bring up issues from the past.

Even with a narcissist, we have to be cognizant of how we respond in conflict because sometimes our response doesn’t help or even worsens a situation. Sometimes there is no peaceful resolution to the conflict. Narcissists do not care about the costs of conflict as their goal is to achieve manipulation in the exchange.

When someone accuses you of doing something that they do not like, own that you do it sometimes. We all do, and there is nothing wrong with owning that. That is how we grow. It is a win-win solution. 

How to Stop Being Defensive

Being defensive can be a natural stress response, and it is a stress response that we have to do a better job of regulating. Understand that people do not experience you sometimes in how you see yourself. Take the time and listen to what is being said, and ingest and digest it. Give it thought and respond to it rationally. Sometimes you may have to realize you are being defensive because you are guilty. This can make a conflict worse and sometimes takes away from the actual conflict. 

We are human, we all have traits or do things that can be off-putting or downright offensive to others. We all have been intolerant, unreceptive, rude, dishonest, and uncaring. Learn from your mistakes, own them, and adjust as necessary. 

This will reduce a lot of emotion in conflict in your personal relationships. The less you are in your feels, the easier it is to come to a peaceful resolution.  Less interpersonal conflict. More peaceful agreements and when we fight fair it is a win for everyone.

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  • […] MAKE RESTITUTIONMaking restitution requires that you do extra things for the person to make them feel safe and loved. This may have nothing to do with the actual content of what hurt them.  An example would be to receive flowers.  A spouse would feel better with the apology language to have a more tangible expression of restitution.Lastly, sometimes people don’t apologize because they are too ashamed; however, forgive them anyway.  Yet, sometimes you have to be okay with a sorry you never got. God calls on us to forgive all of those who have done us wrong, whether we have received an apology or not.  I know how difficult it is no accept that sometimes we are just not going to get the apology we want. Conflict resolution is difficult for many people out here. Read this resource if you want more insight on navigate it better here. […]

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