Being on the defensive.
So often my clients are finding themselves reacting to situations defensively as they interpret a comment or email as a criticism. Unfortunately our propensity to negatively scan can become our default behavior when we constantly focus on what’s wrong rather than what’s right.
This may be because our personality style preference is to stay with what is and resist change. It may be that our role requires us to constantly seek out errors in numbers or processes, as often is the case with accountants, or as with lawyers who are often seeking the flaw in the argument. Either way our brain becomes conditioned to scanning for the negative.
Whilst this may be a strength in certain situations, it doesn’t necessarily serve us well if this becomes our default position and people’s listening of us deminish’s as a result of our constant negativity.
What’s worse is that it becomes so normal that we don’t even see people shutting down to our input, comments and ideas.
How to increase people’s listening of you.
- The first step to changing this is awareness. Notice how people respond to you in meetings, conversations, and emails.
- Write it down somewhere to see how often this occurs, which will likely horrify you. It’s not enough to just notice it happening, you need to see how often it happens.
- Practice positive scanning by writing down three things that have gone well both at lunchtime and at bedtime. This rewires the brain and has stunning immediate effect.
- When wanting to point out challenges do so in a way that is likely to take the conversation forward. For example ” that’s an interesting (or great) idea, how can we move this forward and take care of (insert concerns).”
What’s in it for you
You will notice an immediate change in people’s listening of you when you consciously scan for positives. This doesn’t mean ignore the negatives, but people are more likely to listen to your ideas when they are not forced into an immediate position of defending their position. By starting with the positive they are more likely to be open to your suggestions and therefore you would be seen as a valuable contributor.