It might be dangerous for you to be in a relationship with a defensive person. Such a thing can lead to communication deterioration.
You will have loads of fights with each other instead of having conversations about how you two can change, to support the relationship. Such fights do not feel like they take you anywhere. After some time you might feel like giving up with this defensive person and try to move out of the relationship. You will choose to keep quiet instead of expressing your needs, as you want to maintain the unhealthy silence. This, eventually, leads to disconnection and resentment and will poison the relationship.
Do not give up on the defensive person quickly. You can implement some strategies to disarm his/her defenses and try to tackle the difficulties together.
Things To Do Before You Approach A Defensive Person
Take some time out and think about the topics that you will ask the person.
1: Will The Defensive Person Feel Attacked?
This is an important point to consider as the defensive person has fragile self-worth. They are extra sensitive to criticism and judgment.
2: Are The Questions Important?
Is his/her behavior directly affecting you or are you just trying to control the person?
Avoid doing the second as it is not really your business.
3: Are You Taking Ownership Of Your Own Behavior?
Reflect on yourself first before you try to change someone else’s behavior. You can sometimes act in a way and contribute to the problem.
4: The Purpose Of The Request
Think about the main reason behind your questions. Is it to affect healthy changes or to make the defensive person feel guilty and bad?
You need to do some self-examination before you start.
How To Go On With The Interaction
1: Start With Positives
Everyone deserves to feel right and when we receive that acknowledgment, we create a connection that makes us want to listen further. Think about all the small things that the defensive person is doing correctly.
2: Share The Feedback In A Request
Do not include complaints in your conversation. Leave it out completely and focus on the changes that you want to see in the person. In the end, you just want different behavior from the person, if the relationship is not working.
3: Take Responsibility
You should own your part for the things that are not working. It will feel like both the members are solving the problem together and is not a “you go fix this” situation.
4: Watch The Tone When Talking To A Defensive Person
You might be a person who is better at communicating but you need to be careful. The motivation might be pure and you might want to share a strategy but it can sound correcting. It will make the person feel like we are looking down on them.
5: The Language Is Very Important
Avoid using words like “Always” and “Never” or assigning attributes to the defensive person. It can trigger a defensive reaction, instantly.
If you failed to follow these steps, do not feel disheartened. You can always repair the situation. Call out your incompetence and acknowledge the fact that they feel attacked.
You should always admit your mistakes as it is a great way to build trust. People feel safer when they can rely on their partners.
Defensiveness is just a fear response that is triggered by a false attack. All you need to do is to steer clear of fear and get to the work of strengthening the relationship through positive communication.