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When communication breaks down and one or both partners become defensive, it can damage to the relationship and lead to further misunderstandings.
Learning to recognize when a partner is being defensive and proactively addressing the situation can help to mitigate future conflicts.
This blog post will discuss the signs that a partner is being defensive, and provide tips for constructive communication that can help to prevent defensive behavior in the future.
1. Understand the Root Cause of Defensive Behavior
In order to effectively tackle a partner’s defensive behavior, it’s important to understand the root cause.
Is the partner feeling threatened or judged? Are there unresolved issues in their past that are causing them to act defensively?
Once you have identified the underlying cause, you can then move forward by addressing the situation.
Try to be patient and non-judgmental, and focus on understanding their feelings and point of view.
Ask open-ended questions and be accommodating and understanding, because with patience and understanding, you can help your partner become less defensive and work through the issue together.
2. Notice Your Own Contributions to the Problem
For a partner being defensive, one of the best ways to help them become less defensive is to take notice of one’s own contributions to the problem.
Reflect on the moments when your partner might have felt defensive and try to identify why they may have felt that way. Take responsibility and express remorse if necessary.
Understanding your own role in the situation can help to ease the tension and create a safer space for productive conversations.
3. Choose the Right Time and Place to Discus the Issue
It’s difficult to approach a partner who is being defensive, so it’s important to choose the right time and place to discuss the issue.
If your partner is already feeling angry or on the defensive, they won’t be able to reason objectively and the conversation could quickly spiral out of control. Instead, try starting the conversation when your partner is calm.
Consider your partner’s comfort level and respect their boundaries. It’s also important to pick a quiet, neutral location where both of you can talk freely and focus on the issue at hand.
By taking the right steps, you can create an environment that is conducive to open and honest communication, so that you can address the issue in the best way possible.
4. Remain Open, Respectful and Understanding
In any situation where your partner is being defensive, it is important to remain open, respectful, and understanding. It’s difficult to remain calm during tense conversations, but it is important to remember that your goal should be to resolve the issue, not to further escalate it.
By attempting to communicate clearly and remain open-minded to their point of view, it is much more likely that the issue can be addressed productively.
5. Speak in Non-Judgemental Terms
When your partner is being defensive, it’s difficult to remain calm and maintain a professional manner. One of the best ways to become less defensive is to speak in non-judgemental terms.
This means refraining from making judgements about the other person’s attitude or behavior, or making assumptions about their motivations.
Remember, everyone is entitled to their opinion, and it’s not your place to judge. Focus on what your partner is saying and try to understand their point of view.
Avoid language that implies criticism or blame and instead try to use language that is respectful and non-confrontational. This can help to create an environment where both parties can communicate more effectively.
6. Listen Attentively to Understand the Perspective of Your Partner
In a partner being defensive situation, one of the best ways to help them become less defensive is to actively listen and understand the perspective of your partner.
Listening attentively is key to resolving the situation. Acknowledge the feelings and the perspective of your partner, even if you don’t agree.
Do your best to put yourself in their shoes and try to see the world from their perspective. This can help create an open dialogue and show your partner that you are interested in understanding their point of view.
7. Try to Acknowledge the Feelings of Your Partner
When your partner is being defensive, it’s important to acknowledge their feelings.
This doesn’t mean that you should dismiss your own feelings or take the blame for your partner’s defensiveness, but that you should acknowledge the emotion and how it might influence your partner’s behavior.
For example, if your partner is feeling threatened by something you said, try to recognize their feeling and validate it by saying something like, “I can see that this made you feel defensive, and I want to understand why.”
Doing so will help your partner feel seen and heard, and will help create an atmosphere of empathy that may lead to a better outcome.
8. Move Towards a Solution Together
Once you and your partner have identified the source of the problem, it’s time to move towards a solution together.
During this process, it’s important to remain sensitive to your partner’s feelings and maintain a professional tone. Ask your partner for their thoughts on a resolution and encourage them to express their feelings.
If your partner is being defensive, try to listen and focus on understanding them, rather than winning the argument. This will help to create a constructive and collaborative environment and will go a long way in ensuring you reach a resolution that works for both of you.
It is important to recognize and acknowledge when your partner is being defensive. The temptation may be to respond similarly, but it is more productive to take a moment to pause and address the underlying issue.
With patience, understanding, and communication, it is possible to move past defensive behavior and cultivate a healthier, more balanced relationship.