Are You Ready for a Fight?
Last week I found myself taking on an attitude I usually try to avoid: being on the defensive. I checked in with my body and all the signs were there; I was tense, frowning and my breathing was rapid and shallow.
I was musing on an upcoming conversation, and I found myself imagining how it would go. However, rather than visualizing a great conversation in which me and the other person saw eye to eye, I was caught up in a debate in which neither of us were at our professional best or coming to any mutual agreement.
Thank God I clued into where my head was going because I was able to let go of this train of thought, and the resulting attitude, before it did any outward damage. One self-fulfilling prophecy nipped in the bud!
Being on guard diminishes your ability to connect with others and, therefore, diminishes your ability to inspire and lead. You are more likely to take offense, be argumentative, and see differences rather than similarities.
Opportunities for joint ventures will be all but lost on you. Others, sensing your attitude, will not want to do business with you and will not recommend you to others should the opportunity arise.
It is stressful to be around people who are tense, prickly or sharp-tongued, and so they are usually avoided. Needless to say, this is bad for business and not the reputation you want to foster.
Should you find yourself mentally gearing up for a battle, there are some other attitudes you can take on to help let go of a defensive mentality.
1. There is no threat. Releasing any notion of a threat allows you to be in the moment which reduces stress and brings about a sense of calm. In this calmer state, you can deal with any situation rationally, be open to what’s possible and identify opportunities as they appear. Trust that you’ll be able to respond to anything that comes at you in the moment. Until then, there is no threat for which you need to prepare.
2. We are all doing our best. More often than not the people we perceive as threatening to us are not intending to be so. They are just living their lives, trying to make it in the world and are usually oblivious to the impact they are having on you. What they do pick up is your attitude towards them, which will in turn put them on the defensive and a vicious cycle then ensues. If this is already the state of affairs, there is a simple solution: refuse to engage. Friction requires two opposing forces. Stop being one of those forces.
3. Be clear on your goals, your values and your boundaries. Remember, you are a fully capable adult. Just because someone may ask you to do something that is not in alignment with how you want to conduct your business or your life doesn’t mean you have to throw up the walls and get offended. You can politely decline or deliver a flat-out no, whatever is appropriate. The only true threat in this situation would be a lack of resolve on your part. Our standards are our own. To expect others to live by them is self-centered and a good formula for being consistently disappointed. Focus on being true to yourself and your commitments and allow that others may take a different path.
It’s important in relationships and in business to be mindful of the impact we have others. If we want to achieve our goals, get results and make progress we need others to be on our side and help us do it.
You can certainly fight your way through the day but it will take longer to see results that inevitably cannot be sustained. Eventually you will wear yourself out and ruin your health. Where’s the fun in that?
Take some time each day to check in with yourself and see where your head is. If you catch yourself gearing up for an argument try one of the tips above and instead prepare yourself for an opportunity.
Leave a comment below and tell me if you catch yourself being on the defensive and what helps you to let it go.