“Taking in critical feedback—without defensiveness—is a superpower.” ~Lisa Merlo-Booth
A fascinating thing about skillfully managing conflict is that it leaves both parties feeling more connected rather than less. Even when you feel hurt by someone, if they can acknowledge the hurt and be accountable for how their actions contributed to that hurt, you will feel closer to them. Wait, what? You tell someone they hurt you, and they: acknowledge your pain and admit that they did the behavior, and then you feel close to them? YES! Working through conflict, and owning your mistakes, results in a greater level of connection—for everyone involved.
Accountability and repair are game-changers. Unfortunately, most people tend to avoid, deflect, or defend when it comes to conflict. Being accountable is often the last thing people do. Think about yourself, how many times have you responded to critical feedback by:
- Saying it wasn’t your fault
- Blaming someone else for the problem
- Talking about how stressed you are, whether you’re not perfect, how the demands are too high, etc.
If you’re like many people, chances are pretty high that you (or someone you know) explain, deflect, or defend in the face of someone’s upset or feedback.
Responding from a place of self-protection will create problems in your relationships, career, and life. If you protect yourself in response to an error at work or another’s hurt, this leaves a growth opportunity lost, the error or hurt unaddressed, and repair skipped over. Stop responding to the upset of others by protecting yourself. The last thing you want to be, in your life or on the job, is accountability fragile.
Everyone makes mistakes. All human beings will hurt others in minor or major ways—sometimes deliberately and more often with the best of intentions. Learn to accept this. Work hard to love yourself when you mess up while also holding yourself accountable to own your actions, repair the damage, and leave defensiveness off the table.
Challenge: Explaining, deflecting, or defending your actions in response to someone’s upset are losing moves every time. Find the internal strength to own your actions, repair any damage they may cause, and learn from your mistakes. These moves will change not only your relationships but your entire life.
NOTE: If you or someone you love struggles with taking in feedback, defensiveness, or being accountable, and you’re interested in hearing about what I’ve been working on regarding defensiveness, then email me at email@example.com with the subject line “I’m interested.”