Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Being Defensive

Conversations consist of statements and questions and the various reactions to these.  Generally, reactions are easy to anticipate allowing for a comfortable flow.  There are times, however, when a reaction is defensive and unless the parties are involved in a debate, a defensive reaction seems to come out of the blue.  This type of response will often leave many confused, including the person who reacted defensively.

Often blame is assigned to others for being insensitive or naïve when it would be more beneficial to discover the reason behind one’s defensiveness.  An example, that often comes up, is the statement “she doesn’t work” in response to a question around the wife’s occupation.  The wife tends to become very defensive arguing that looking after the children and cleaning the house is indeed work.

The simple reason behind the wife’s reaction may often be a feeling of insufficiency at not contributing financially.  The difficulty comes in (as discussed in the article on Confrontation) in the wife’s definition of work and the statement “she doesn’t work” implying she is lazy. 

The question then is would she want the care of her home and children to be considered a job, the connotation of which is something that she has to do but doesn’t necessarily want to do?  Does she expect some financial remuneration for the job?  If there is no promotion in the foreseeable future, would she want to quit?  These questions may seem silly but they succeed in reorganising the definition of work for this instance. 

A defensive reaction to seemingly simple statements often has more to do with the person being defensive than the other party.  While counselling will uncover the reasons behind such reactions some self-reflection can sometimes achieve the same.

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