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communicationWe have all been deep in conversation or argument with another person when that person turns defensive. It can be hard to communicate effectively when the other person is defensive. While you cannot control how others communicate or behave, you can control yourself and your actions. Here are a few tips on maintaining effective communication when speaking with a defensive person. 


Use “I” Statements 

Many times using “I” statements can help in conversations. That means saying things such as “I feel this way when you do that,” or “I get upset when you say that.” Using “I” statements can be helpful because you are making it clear that you are speaking about yourself and not anyone else. 


Stick to the Facts

Sometimes in the heat of the argument, it can be easy to embellish or twist the story. When that happens, it can make people feel even more defensive. Try to stick to the absolute facts of the situation. 


Avoid Mirroring the Defensive Behavior

When one person gets defensive in a disagreement, the other person can unconsciously mirror that defensive behavior.  When one person raises their voice in an argument, everyone tends to speak louder until everyone is shouting and no one is listening. Defensive behavior can act just like loud voices and make it so that no one hears anything. Try to fight the urge to become defensive; remain calm and listen to what the other person is trying to say behind their defensive manner. 


Repeat Yourself

If you feel you are not being heard, it can lead to great frustration and feeling resentful, agitated, and angry. Try to remain calm and repeat yourself. If you think the argument is escalating and you are not being heard, it may be beneficial to call a time-out and come back when everyone is calmer. 


When speaking with a loved one or a friend who is frequently defensive, it can feel tiring and overwhelming. Learning not to mirror that defensive behavior, especially if you feel unheard, is extremely difficult. Effective communication skills take time and patience. Sometimes you may even need to call a time-out and come back to discussions later. Here at The Guest House, we know that effective communication skills are essential for many different areas of life, especially in relationships. If you are struggling with mental health challenges, addiction, or trauma, these communication skills can be even more difficult to learn and master. We are here to help. Call us today to learn more about our different treatment options at (855) 483-7800.