If you over-explain yourself, make it someone else’s problem, or tend to think or say that you did what you did because someone else did what they did, then you are challenged with being defensive.
If you are not open to this blog and willing to consider that from time to time you may get defensive then…….uhhhh you are being defensive. The only time being defensive is a good idea is when you are being attacked. In reality, that happens very, very seldom. While it may feel like it at times, most of the time we are not being attacked or blamed.
I am often asked what the one skill or character quality is that I most wish people could master. I always say, “It’s a tossup between being authentic and accepting responsibility without being defensive.” More arguments escalate and circumstances deteriorate because of a lack of openness and personal responsibility than for any other reason, and yet many people continue to have a very hard time owning their “stuff!”
Consider how much easier life would be if people would own their part of a problem or disagreement. Think of how much faster issues would get resolved. Just because someone asks you a question or disagrees with you does not mean there is a need to over-explain or place blame. People that seek to blame are punish-focused; while people who are responsibility minded are repair-focused. The difference is so subtle yet so powerful. This month I want to encourage you to quietly and humbly accept your share of responsibility for the good stuff and the bad. Its not always easy but it will make relationships and results so much better.
Here are a few steps to consider:
1.When you feel the urge to explain or blame or get defensive, pause and ask good questions like, “What could I have done differently? How did we get to this place? What can I do differently in the future to avoid this?”
2. In situations where you are guarded or hesitant to take responsibility for the good stuff try, “Thank you” Or “Thank you. I am fortunate to have had great help as well.”
3. Acknowledge how you may have contributed (knowingly or unknowingly) to the situation.
4. Make clear commitments for how behavior will be different in the future.
Let it go….