To begin with, what does ‘defensive listening’ mean? It means exactly what it sounds like which is listening to another person with your defense guard up. People who tend to listen defensively are usually only listening to pick statements that they believe are inaccurate or something that they do not agree with. Some people simply listen to respond, blame or defend, instead of trying to understand what the other person is saying.
Honestly, getting defensive is a natural tendency. It is the best possible way to protect yourself from criticism, something that most of us do not enjoy. But it is common that when one partner gets defensive, it only results in the other one getting defensive as well. This means that neither of you is willing to hear out and understand the problem. This often leads to frustrating arguments between the spouses with no positive result in the end. Instead of having loving, respectful conversations that you initially had planned turns into nothing but fights, resulting in a buildup of misunderstandings and compromised relations. Communication is a key to a healthy relationship. It is necessary for couples to be comfortable enough to share issues and complains they might have with each other without feeling attacked. For those wondering how to listen without getting defensive? Following are a few methods that may help you.
1. Learn to receive criticism
Our very first instinct when being criticized is a backlash. Instead of doing so, take a deep breath and try to keep yourself from doing anything that you might regret later. It is common to get angry initially but trying to calm yourself may only help you out. The cooling off will give you time to think about it and very soon, logic comes into play instead of emotions. You can choose to turn criticism into something positive and gain something from it. Criticism is a great way to get honest feedback and whatever your partner says will help you learn about all the complaints they have from you. Moreover, it will also enable you to make improvements in yourself. You might realize it is actually you who’s at fault here and your spouse’s issues are valid. Nobody is perfect, and we all need constant improvements in order to grow and be successful in all fields of life.
2. Quit interrupting and genuinely listen
Getting defensive also immediately makes the person think that the partner is wrong. What such people are usually doing through an argument or a heated discussion is hearing what the other person is saying rather than listening intently and are completely failing to understand. Instead of planning your next move, you should try to genuinely listen to what they have to say and try to find where all this is coming from. Secondly, refraining from interrupting when the other person is speaking can help you loads. First of all, interruption causes the flow of the conversation to break, resulting in both partners blurting out whatever they want to say without hearing out each other. In addition, the other person may feel angry or unheard due to being interrupted midway. Therefore, avoid speaking in between and wait until the person is done talking, even if you do think what they are saying is false and incorrect. Doing so would allow you to hear all out all of their points as well as aid in a constructive, forward-moving conversation.
3. Watch out for your body language
Body language plays a key part in communication. It really helps in delivering what you actually want to say. Therefore, when talking to your partner, be mindful of your bodily responses. Shaking your head angrily, rolling your eyes, looking away and other similar actions are something that will only make them furious. Avoid doing so, instead look at them and divert your entire attention towards them to let them know that you are interested, listening and open to whatever they have to say. The last thing you would want to do is ignore your partner, their words, and push their feelings aside like they don’t matter. During such tough discussions, it greatly helps to remind yourself of all the love and respect you have for your partner. Focus on all the good qualities of your significant other that had made you love them, of all the fun and joyous moment both of you have shared. This will help you keep yourself from reacting in a way or saying something that might hurt your partner and eventually end you up with a destroyed relationship.
By following these ways on how to listen without getting defensive during an argument, you will feel like a winner once it is over. Instead of guilt washing over, you would as if you made a part in keeping your relationship from falling apart. Being vulnerable and non-defensive with your partner even when you’re hurt or angry is extremely important for a successful relationship.