A simple behaviour change that will change your life
I’ve seen an interesting pattern in recent weeks, by changing my behaviour and watching the behaviour of those around me. Those who things go well for, and those who things don’t go so well for. Seeing when things go well for me and when they don’t. The pattern? When people try to defend themselves, and when people don’t. To be clear, the context here is verbal defence, rather than physical defence! Life hasn’t got that crazy, not yet at least.
Some interesting things about the nature of defending, or justifying, oneself. Firstly, defending yourself often causes others to attack you more. However, when you turn the other cheek, not defending yourself leaves people nothing to punch against and often stops the attack and swiftens the move towards resolving the situation. That is much more productive that the escalating verbal spiral of each person just defending their position. People usually attack out of their own insecurity. Start by understanding that and arguments will become less frequent, successful resolutions more common.
The next time you are tempted to (verbally) defend yourself in a situation, don’t and see the difference. It is a great leadership skill.
…but what if you’re right and they’re wrong?
🙂 A very valid question, which I have wrestled with. If you are wrong, you don’t have a defence. If you are right, you don’t need one. If you allow youself to take the mindset of “I am right, they are wrong” you leave only two paths open to you:
1) You are actually wrong about being right. Then you end up backing youself into a corner. The assumption doesn’t keep your mind open to the fact that you may actually be wrong. That means you don’t see it when you have made a mistake, leaving others to get angry or at least very frustrated with you. All not good stuff.
2) You are actually right and they are wrong. That does you little good in and of itself. The biggest benefit comes when they realise they are wrong. If you attack their position or just defend your own, you just entrench them in their belief. Accepting their position (even though it may be wrong one), and exploring it with them, is much more likely to help them discover their mistake. If will help you check that you haven’t missed anything.
Defending our position leads to a fight, exploring their position leads to understanding.
I’d add that changing the focus to actively *listening* can help this even further. Not listening to argue or make a point, but to see where the other person is coming from. Really trying to understand, in other words.
Requires letting go of the ego, though…
That reminds me of Covey’s “Seek First to Understand” habit – which is another one of those “good idea, which takes huge amounts of discipline to do!”. There seems to be a general theme here: Put the ego down. Time for some humility… Ouch…
Thank you for sharing!