by Asgar Jafferali Dhanji (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania)
Someone makes a constructive criticism and you feel the need to defend yourself. Someone makes a comment and you feel hurt.
Reacting in a defensive manner usually involves a knee-jerk or instantaneous reaction. After reacting defensively, you may even reply with some form of criticism of your own or get into an argument, which only escalates the situation.
Most people are annoyed if not angered when they are, say, not appreciated (when you know you have put so much time and effort) or give you adverse reactions to your inputs!!
It would be nice if everyone was kind regarding their reactions to us and our work but unfortunately, that is not the world we live in.
In such circumstances, to create a buffer or space between the comment and your defensive reaction– try to gather your composure and perspective.
Take a few seconds to think before your reaction.
Does the comment make sense? Is there an element of truth in it? Can you learn something here? Or is the person simply being a jerk?
While it is not always easy not to react, try honestly to assess the situation. You will reap huge dividends to take careful note of what is being said– before becoming defensive.