Embracing Openness: How to Let Go of Defensiveness for Empowered Communication

Defensiveness often acts like a shield, guarding us against criticism or disagreement. However, this shield can become a barrier to genuine communication and growth. The Surrender Card encourages us to drop this guard and adopt a more empowered way of communicating. This involves staying centered, listening carefully, and responding clearly and non-defensively.

Understanding Defensiveness

Defensiveness springs from a place of fear or insecurity. It’s a natural response when we feel attacked or misunderstood. But it’s important to recognize that being defensive can hinder effective communication and connection with others.

Cultivating Self-Awareness

The first step in surrendering defensiveness is to become aware of our reactions. Notice when you start to feel defensive. Ask yourself, “What’s triggering this feeling?” Understanding your emotions is key to managing them.

Active Listening

Active listening means fully concentrating on what is being said rather than just passively hearing the words. This requires patience, openness, and a willingness to understand another’s perspective. By listening actively, you show respect and make the other person feel valued.

Staying Centered

When faced with criticism, try to remain calm. Staying centered allows you to respond thoughtfully rather than reactively. This can be challenging, but with practice, it becomes easier.

Separating Issue from Identity

Remember, criticism is often about a specific behavior or issue, not about you as a person. Distinguishing between the two can reduce defensiveness and open the door to constructive dialogue.

Choosing Your Battles

Not every critique warrants a response. Sometimes, letting go of minor issues can bring peace and balance. Decide what’s worth your energy and what’s not.

Embracing Vulnerability

Vulnerability is not a weakness; it’s a strength. Acknowledging your flaws and being open to growth can lead to more authentic interactions and deeper connections.

Practicing Empathy

Try to understand where the other person is coming from. Empathy can transform defensive reactions into compassionate responses.

Using “I” Statements

“I” statements help express your feelings without sounding accusatory. For example, “I feel upset when…” is more constructive than “You make me upset.”

Seeking Common Ground

Finding commonalities can defuse tension and foster cooperation. Focus on what you agree on, not just what divides you.

Reflect and Learn

After conversations, reflect on your responses. Were you defensive? How could you have responded differently? Use these insights to improve your communication skills.

Put it into action

Letting go of defensiveness is a journey towards more empowered communication. It’s about understanding yourself, listening to others, and responding with clarity and compassion. As BrenĂ© Brown says, embracing vulnerability is the path to creativity and change. This journey will not only improve your conversations but also enrich your relationships and personal growth.