The other day I was having lunch with a friend who is looking for a job and as I said something she started getting defensive. To be honest, it took me by surprise.

24398770_sI did not back down about what I was saying. I told her – “This is what I see, this is the behavior that is being shown to me.” I gave her specific examples of how I came to my conclusion.

She was not listening to what I had to say, instead she started to talk very fast about how it not what she meant and I was not interpreting it correctly.

What she failed to understand is that what I see or perceive is based on how she says things or behaves. She has the power to change how I or someone else might see her.

So what do you do when you are getting defensive – when someone says something that you don’t like?

The first step is to explore if what the person is saying has a kernel of truth – after all – why would you get defensive? If someone speaks the truth – whether it is positive or negative, there is no reason to get defensive. You might get mad, but then again, why not own it?

The second step is to be curious about what someone is saying. Seek to understand why they feel the way they do and not trying to shut down the dialogue.

Is the person sharing their observations being well-intentioned? If so, listen deeply to what they have to say and try to figure out how you might be able to affect some changes, if that is important to you.

Finally, realize if one person thinks this way, there are likely other people in your life who may think the same way. Consider reaching out to them and ask them what they think. When you open up the conversation yourself, you are already in the mindset to receive feedback.

So the next time you feel yourself getting defensive – stop, listen and learn.