Why is defensiveness such an obstacle to collaboration? When we get defensive, “we put way more into self-preservation than we do into problem-solving,” Tamm says. “We’re trying to prove that we’re right rather than search for creative solutions.” When this happens in a workplace, it can be a recipe for chaos and failure.
OK, now that we understand the dangers of defensiveness, here’s what we can do about it. You can start by learning to spot the warning signs of defensiveness in yourself. When you feel yourself experiencing them, pay attention and take action. According to Tamm, here are the 10 most common warning signs that you may be getting defensive: A spurt of energy in your body; sudden confusion; flooding your audience with information to prove a point; withdrawing into silence; magnifying or minimizing everything; developing “all or nothing” thinking; feeling like you’re a victim or you’re misunderstood; blaming or shaming others; obsessive thinking; and wanting the last word.