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Defensiveness; The #1 mistake you make in conflicts

In an argument or debate, the worst thing you can do is to get defensive.

But when someone is coming at you with accusations, judgments and rage it’s all to easy to take it personally.

In this video, we explore the communication skills you need to avoid this reaction to a reaction pattern, so that your confrontations end in a win/win conclusion.


 

If you want to become a shameless beast, get in touch with Dan for confidence-building support!

>> Click here to apply for a free coaching session!<<

 


Full transcript (unedited)

Hey, what’s up everybody? Today I’m going to talk about one of the biggest mistakes that people make when they’re having confrontations. confrontations used to be something that was by far my biggest fear, I actually had a phobia of confrontations when I was younger, up until about the age of 20 to 23. There’s nothing I was more afraid of than getting into an argument with someone in an emotional way. And then I joined the Department of Corrections and had to get into confrontations with violent criminal offenders every single day, often for minutes or even hours sometimes. And so I learned some of the principles of healthy confrontation. And what I came to realize is that there’s one thing you do in a confrontation that completely undermines you, and ruins your chances of having a healthy resolution to this conflict. And that is defensiveness. Now what is defensiveness? Defensiveness is any form of behavior where you’re trying to protect yourself, your interests, your point of view, your argument, it’s a form of justification, where somebody accuses you, or challenges you or goes against you in some way. And you fight back to defend yourself to protect yourself. There’s a huge mistake, everybody thinks you have to do this in a conflict, that you have to win the conflict and that if you don’t defend yourself, you will lose. But the truth is, as soon as you defend yourself, you’ve already lost. And today we are talking about why that is and why you should do instead. Firstly, I want to clarify the difference between explaining yourself and justifying yourself. Now an explanation, you know why you have a point of view why you’ve made an accusation, perhaps why you challenge or disagree with someone, the why behind what you’re saying, is totally appropriate, and totally helpful if the end only if the other person’s actually curious. So for example, if I say, You know what, I totally disagree with your beliefs, and they look at me and they go, really? I’ve never had someone disagree with me before. What do you believe? And why do you disagree? That’s curiosity. Whereas if I say to someone, I disagree with your beliefs, and they’re like, why are you challenging me? Why Why don’t you agree with me, that’s not curiosity. That’s an attack. That’s then being defensive. And what happens is, if they’ve been genuinely curious, what you say will be an explanation. These are my points of argument. This is why I believe what I believe I’m open to being wrong. So but justification is when you respond to their attack, with a defense of your position. Now, you might even say the exact same words that you would say in an explanation, but they don’t give a shit. They’re not listening. They’re not curious. All they’re doing is forcing you into a position where you have to justify yourself. And the very fact that you are justifying yourself, shows them and everybody else involved, that you need to justify yourself. And only somebody with a weak argument needs to justify it. So one of the things I’m trying to get across to you here that I noticed it’s very hard to kind of explain until you see it in real life, when someone goes to justify, not explain but justify, protect, defend, they’ve already lost because they’re being defensive, which means they’re saying I need defending, and the person on the right doesn’t need defending. So if you do defend yourself, you’re automatically in the wrong. Alright? An innocent person doesn’t run, right? An innocent person doesn’t need to prove themselves innocent. Only a guilty person needs to make a case. So now we know that’s not always true. But doesn’t matter. You might be explaining a point that you’re making, you might be very sure of why you’re saying what you’re saying. And you might be in the right. But as soon as you get defensive. in everybody’s mind and the frame of the argument, you’re in the wrong, you’ve confirmed that you needed to defend yourself. And a lot of people perceive that as meaning you’re wrong. And they also perceive it as you attacking them. They don’t hear an explanation. They just hear weapons that bullets being shot at them. You can see this and really heated debates between people. And you often get one person being sort of more rational and calm than the other. The rational Canvas will make points and the other person will just take that personally, as an as an attack, they won’t be listening and won’t be curious about how dare you say that, you know, accuse them of things. You know, great example was that interview that really famous classic interview between Dr. Jordan, Jordan Peterson and Kathy Newman from whatever TV show, he made rational points. And she was like, so what you’re saying is, or woman are evil or whatever, she just took it really the wrong way. She wasn’t curious. And any explanation he made just look like justification for him being a monster. You know, the biggest mistake Jordan Peterson made in that interview was to keep participating to actually explain his point he was trying to explain to someone who wasn’t curious. There’s no point in doing that. The only time you should be explaining it was when someone’s curious. And if someone’s actually curious, then you’re not in a confrontation. If you’re in a confrontation of emotions are high, if people are trying to win, convince each other dominate, explanation is pointless. That kind of rationality, that kind of debate can’t happen until this confrontation is dealt with. So keep that in mind. Oblique obligation is an illusion. And this is the other main point when you get into a confrontation. someone accuses you someone demands that you explain yourself, you’ll feel this urge to respond. This thing inside you will say I have to explain myself, I have to justify, I have to prove myself, I have to win this argument. But you don’t. And when you realize that, you’ll understand that the secret to confrontation is not fighting at all. It doesn’t mean running away or backing down. It just means not giving any resistance. So someone goes, How could you think that? You go? Yeah, I can see you’re angry. You never actually take the bait to justify and explain yourself. One of my favorite things to do in this moment is to say, look, I’d love to explain all my points to you, and talk you through why I believe what I believe. But I can see you’re not ready to hear it just yet. When you are we’ll talk about it for now. We need to figure out why you’re so angry. Now we need to figure out why you’re so aggressive. Now we need to figure out why it is that I feel intimidated by what you’re doing until we sort that out. I can’t explain myself. You know, I’m not going to justify my beliefs to someone who’s upset when you’re not upset, then we can talk about it. I promise you, we’ll talk about everything. We’ll go through all the points. You kind of put yourself in this position, we no one can oblige you to prove yourself no one can oblige you into defensiveness. Okay, and nobody ever does actually. You do it to yourself. Now someone might be like you explain yourself right now. But it’s you who decides to follow through on that instruction. They can’t force you. Unless you’re on a torture chair. You know, and if you are being tortured, explain yourself there are exceptions to the rules. But if someone’s just accusing you I had someone wrote on Quora, I do answers on Quora. He looked me up you’ll see me there big range of rants. And somebody asked, you know, if someone insults me in public, how do I respond in a witty way? I said, don’t. There’s no obligation to respond to someone who’s insulting you in public, no harm to being done. The fact is, as soon as you respond, you lose. If you if someone tries to bully you, and they get a reaction, you’re done. The reaction is everything they needed. Even if you’re witty and you can banter back the whole crowds and see he got Yeah, he reacted. My favorite thing is what I call the no reaction, which isn’t like walking away and pretending it didn’t happen, though I will sometimes ignore people who just annoying me. But this kind of turn around where I, I will let them have a conflict all by themselves, I’m not going to get involved. And what I can do is care for them through the conflict. So let’s say somebody doesn’t stop me and tries to like get a rise out of me in public. Doesn’t happen to me anymore. But it used to. What I can do now is I say like, Wow, do you always talk to people like this? Or you can say like, seems like you have a problem with me. Do you want to tell me about it. Now, whatever they’ve accused me of or whatever insult, they’ve thrown my way. I just put that aside, I put no resistance into that. If anything, I kind of ignore it, but I don’t ignore that they’re attacking me. But the content of what they’re saying get to understand this and the confrontation. The contents are irrelevant. Don’t talk about the content. Don’t talk about the points they’re making. Don’t defend yourself against the accusations and insults, nothing any words that come out irrelevant. What matters is the emotion and that’s the only thing that needs to be talked about. confrontation. I can see you’re upset with me. Seems like you’re angry about something. You know, under that mocking laughter You just did I get a sense of hostility, this thing where you just call out what you’re seeing, and you totally dismissed the content. It’s like when someone accuses you, let’s say, You know what, I disagree with you. So you’re always trying to undermine me, this is bullshit. How dare you just say, Well, see, you got really triggered by that. But don’t explain why you interrupt it. Don’t explain why you disagree. This isn’t the time for explanation. Later on when everybody’s calmed down, and you can take them out for a coffee and go, do you want to hear about my point of view? Are you ready for that now? But in the heart of a conflict, never explain yourself. Amuse curiosity, that’s the key here. The final point I’m making. When someone confronts me, tries to conflict with me, whatever noise comes out of their mouth, doesn’t matter. I want to be curious about why they’re attacking me in the first place. And that’s what I’ll ask. When somebody comes to me and say, Why are you doing this? How dare you? Or why why would you disagree with me? What What’s your rationale for that? Convince me convince me why you disagree. Okay, you know what, maybe one day I will, not today. What I want to know is why you’re so aggressive right now. Why are you upset with me? Well, because you want Explain yourself, say, well, we can get to that. And I promise I will explain myself if we get to a rational place. But I don’t think that’s why you’re upset with me. You’re upset with me before I even had a chance to explain myself. So let’s talk about there. What’s got you so worked up. And if someone’s being bully, they’re teasing you. They’re making it out. Like it’s a laugh, but really, you know, it’s an actual attack, then call that out. You can say, you know, on the surface, this looks like banter. Like we’re sort of, you’re teasing me. But I get some real hostility coming through here. Like I think you’re doing this deliberately. I think this is a personal attack in my role, and you just put it on them to explain the conflict. You don’t explain shit. Try it out. Don’t react, apply curiosity. See how it goes. And if you want more help with your confrontations in life, get in touch with me dan@brojo.org co.nz And this was helpful share it around, subscribe to the channel. I’ll catch you next time.

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