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Reducing defensiveness tips from NYC Psychologist Jayme Albin, Ph. D

January 26, 2014

Reducing defensiveness tips from NYC Psychologist Jayme Albin, Ph. D

Do you often feel criticized in your relationships either at home or at work? New York Psychologist, Jayme Albin, PhD offers some helpful advice…

When your partner or friends tell you how you have hurt them do you immediately defend yourself then shut down without listening and acknowledging their side of things?

When your boss or colleagues call you out for not finishing something on time or leaving early do you think “What a jerk? “ And then complain to your friends and spouse rather than take responsibility for your actions?

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Defensiveness is one of the primary negative reactions that interfere with growth and trust in any relationship. Defending yourself is important but too much of it can leave the other person feeling as though they cannot approach you with their opinions and needs. It can also limit your growth at work since others are likely to avoid giving you feedback to help you improve. Being defensive is a symptom of anger, depression and anxiety disorders. Here are some basic tips to help overcome this negative reaction.

What to do: If you find that you are often defensive when others approach you then New York City Psychologist Jayme Albin, Ph. D offers some psychotherapy advice to help  you reduce this negative reaction and bad habit.

  1. Contain your response. Instead of interrupting with your side of the situation. Wait until the other person is completely finished with their side of things.
  2. Ask for information and specifics. Show you are willing to hear the other person out by asking them if there is more information they need to share and if can they offer you some specific examples to help you understand things better.

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  3. Write down the feedback, complaint, or criticism. First write it down exactly as they said it. Ask the person if you can take notes. This will also show you are concerned and interested in their point of view. Then re-write what they said by trying to be as objective as possible. For example let’s say your boss says “ I am worried about your work because you are always late, work from home a lot of Fridays and other employees are saying you are not available and don’t return emails over the weekends”. Start by writing this down and then turn it into objective information: I am usually late 10-15 minutes and it’s not acceptable at work. I have a limited number of Fridays that I can work from home. Face time at the office is important. I don’t return emails over the weekends-this is generally true.
  4. Pause and schedule a follow up conversation. Let’s say your spouse regularly complains that you are messy around the house. After writing down the information (item 3), schedule a time to address the problem “Can we talk after dinner about this problem?” or with your boss “I need a little time to digest what you are telling me, can we continue this conversation tomorrow? I will out some time on your calendar”
  5. Acknowledge and empathize first, then take responsibility by offering a good faith gesture and then finally explain your position. First start by acknowledging what the other person has said. Use the written objective information as a guide:

So what you are saying is that “I am late often, my Fridays working from home are a problem and that you want me to check emails over the weekends. Did I get everything right?

Then empathize and take responsibly where you can before you explain your position:

–“I can understand how my recent behavior at the office might make you be worried about my work ethic and dedication to the firm. I am dedicated to this company. I will take the earlier train so that I am on time (offer a good faith gesture) I do want you to know that I am doing work when I work from home, I actually like working from home for 2 reasons. I can work later because I don’t have to rush to catch the train home and I get more creative work done because there are no interruptions. But if you think it’s interfering with my work then I can limit it and check my emails at least once a day over the weekend.

Dr. Jayme Albin is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist, executive coach and yoga instructor.She is an expert in anxiety, depression and anger and how it interferes with relationships. For more information on managing relationships using Cognitive Behavior Therapy and other forms psychotherapy in New York City or via skype call or email us at 212-631-1133 or We have 2 Psychotherapy Offices in New York City  Midtown East New York 10022 and Upper East Side, New York City 10128 Psychologist NYC

Copyright © Albin MA Corp.

One Comment leave one →
  1. February 5, 2014 12:21 am

    Thanks for sharing these informations to the readers. The 5 points mentioned in this page is really helpful to the readers and which is really interesting. Keep sharing these kind of informations in the upcoming pages.

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