One of the worst behaviors we can display is being defensive when we are confronted with a tough question or situation. We have this running joke in our home where we say to the other person “Why are you so defensive?” and their response is “I’m not!”. While funny, when it happens at work and in real situations it’s often awkward and a good test of where one’s thinking is at.
There’s an old saying that when you squeeze an orange you expect orange juice to come out. When we’re squeezed, what comes out is often an indicator of what’s really going on inside. Leading others requires honesty but it also requires managing our emotions as much as our actions. Customers and colleagues find it difficult to trust you if you tend to react vs respond. I suppose the real challenge comes when our work isn’t what is expected and we are faced with explaining why. Maybe you have found this to be true also, but I’ve learned that immediately acknowledging the letdown or mistake instead of defending my actions often leads to a faster and better outcome.
“Ninety-nine percent of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses.” – George Washington Carver
If you’re not sure if others view you as defensive, just ask them.