Ugh! I absolutely can’t stand talking to someone who is defensive. There’s a popular sports quote, “Offense wins games but defense wins championships.” And that maybe true in the world of sports, but in life you have got to relax a little. Let me explain, defensive people are thick, and I’m not talking about waist line, I’m talking hard headed thick. You ever ask someone a question and they answer it with a question? That’s a major clue that you are speaking to a defensive person. There’s a difference between being analytical and defensive; defensive folks are usually argumentative.
They’ve been conditioned to question any interaction that they may encounter. “Why? Who wants to know? I don’t understand what you mean? For what? What does that have to do with it?” They are so guarded that it’s almost impossible to talk to them, let alone help them. Defensive people rarely take responsibility for their own actions. If they don’t complete a task, it’s because someone else didn’t do their part. They find ways not to be accountable for their failures. They’re so busy trying to argue or justify themselves that they can’t even consider constructive criticism. And I’m not talking sometimes, I’m talking every time. “I had a rock in my shoe, the sun was in my eye, and a dog ate my homework.”
Defensive people try to portray themselves as victims. “Because he did…” therefore “I couldn’t do…” all kinds of excuses. You understand what I’m talking about, either at work or at home, there’s that person in your life that makes you cringe at the thought of having to talk to them. You know you’re going to have to ask just the right question, with just the right tone or else they are going to take offense and flip on the defenses. Drives me nuts! It’s so difficult to get things done when someone is constantly trying to protect or hide or better yet assume that you have an angle, when you ask them a simple question.
Jobseekers, you can’t go into an interview with a defensive mentality. When the interviewer ask you about a former employer, or about a weakness, or about conflict; don’t get upset and respond out of anger or confusion (confused because you don’t understand the point of the question). You will lose that opportunity. Don’t use a harsh tone of voice, don’t assume that someone is implying something or has an alternative motive.
Again, there’s a difference between strategic thinking versus defensiveness. Playing defensive outside of sports can be a career killer.