A Guide Handling People Who Get Defensive

Of course, we’re all wired to protect ourselves – so most of us get defensive, at least sometimes. But if you find that people around you are always on guard, waiting on the front line to launch into a defensive mode of communication can profoundly damage the relationship.

As we understand defense better, we can learn to dismantle it as a habit and begin to engage more compassionately and openly in our relationships. Why do people get defensive? This is your chance to learn the answer and handle the defensive behavior of loved ones and acquaintances.

If you feel stung by someone’s defensive behavior, you are probably wondering why people get defensive. Before ending the relationship, learn how to manage their behavior. There is nothing worse than talking to someone who is constantly on the defensive.

Change Your Perspective

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You see the situation in a particular way, which isn’t bad but won’t help you deal with defensive behavior. Try to take a step back and see the problem in a new light. Perhaps they are reacting to behavior in you that seems aggressive. Change your perspective, and you will see the results.

Work On Self-Awareness


Nobody wants to look at themselves when they try to deal with someone who is acting defensively. Now, I’m not saying it’s your fault, but there may be some actions you take that act as triggers. Become aware of yourself and watch the moments when it defends itself. What triggered their reaction?

Apologize When You Don’t Express Yourself Correctly

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Recognizing your behavior and actions can make a huge difference when dealing with a defensive person. If you said something overly critical or aggressive, acknowledge it with an apology. So, explain yourself again.

Take Deep Breaths

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Dealing with someone who is on the defensive isn’t easy. You may also find yourself angry and defensive. But two people on the defensive will not resolve any conflict. Instead, count to three and take a couple of deep breaths to relax. It’s not easy, but try your best to lose patience. Slow down and breathe.

Give The Person Space


Nothing positive will happen if you are facing each other. As you step back to breathe, you also give them space to calm down. Sure, they might keep talking, but they might also have a chance to refocus themselves. They need time to think.

Never Say “Don’t Be Defensive”


It is the equivalent of saying “calm down” to someone who is clearly not calm. The only thing it will do is cause an explosion. Tell the person that you are sorry for the misunderstanding and clarify or ask for clarification.


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Ignoring or avoiding someone who is on the defensive may seem like a good idea, but it will backfire quickly. Eventually, you will explode with frustration, and that won’t help the situation. When a situation arises, instead of avoiding it, be sure to express your thoughts and feelings. You will most likely be calmer.

Written By:
Titi Dokubo

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