How To Get Through To A Defensive Person

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Maybe you’re talking with your spouse. Or friend. Or brother. Or colleague. Whoever it is, you know that no matter how carefully you say something, the words won’t get through. They’re just so damn defensive.

You want to scream stuff like, “It’s not a personal attack!” or “I’m just trying to have a conversation!” Mostly, you want to ask, “Can you just stop being so defensive?”

Here’s the thing: No, they probably can’t. It’s right there in the word. They’re defending. “It implies there’s a threat,” says Ellen Hendriksen, clinical psychologist and author of How to Be Yourself. It could be you, but just as likely your words are triggering something deep-seated.

Once their fears are ignited, all focus is danger related. It’s hard for the defensive person to get out of that mode. And saying something like, “Don’t get so defensive,” is about as effective as saying “Relax” to someone panicking.

So what can you do when talking to someone who always gets defensive? Turn up your empathy and turn down your assumptions, because you’re most likely going into the interaction hot. You’re bracing for that person to feel threatened and that ends up threatening you.

“Then we have two reptilian brains talking to each other,” says Laura Silberstein-Tirch, licensed psychologist and author of How to Be Nice to Yourself. That means both of you are down to three options: fight, flight or freeze. “It’s a limited repertoire.”

You want to open that up. You can open that up. It means going in with a different attitude, almost a blank slate, where what’s happened in the past doesn’t matter, and instead of continuing to pull on a rope, and trying to “win” the discussion, you drop it. As Silberstein-Tirch says.“Our hands are free, and we have the freedom to choose how to respond.”

How To Break Through Someone’s Defenses

There’s no one thing to say to talk to a defensive person, but it’s like any successful communication. Hendriksen says to stay in the first person – “you” ups the threat level – and focus on specific acts rather than making things eternal character traits. Example: “That presentation wasn’t at your usual level” is taken better than “You’re not really good at public speaking, are you?” You can also pepper in ways to make any criticism a show of confidence, with something like, “I’m saying this because I know you can handle it and because you’re really smart.”

“Turn it into faith in them,” Hendriken says. But nothing is magic. Defensive people can turn the most benign comment into an attack, and there’s also something called sensitization. It’s like when hot coffee burns your tongue. Everything else, no matter how cool, will set it off, says Hendriksen. Your words, regardless of how thoughtful, can do that.

In those times, acknowledge the reality. It could be, “This might not be the right time. When would be better?” Or be even more direct with, “It seems what I’m saying isn’t working. How would you approach this problem?” In either of these scenarios, you’re out of the struggle, and giving responsibility to the other person to provide some insight and help with the solution.

“It allows them to show their cards a little more,” Silberstein-Tirch says.

Hitting Refresh

A common frustration in arguments is that the same issue comes up over and over, particularly with relatives and spouses. One approach is to have a meta-conversation, Silberstein-Tirch says. That is, talk about talking.

Consider saying, “I notice when we talk about your mother, things go off. What can we do about it?” Here, you’re not talking about the issue, but talking about talking about the issue, and that one step removed makes it easier for the other person to engage. Rather than bumping heads, you’re now teaming up on the problem, which in couples therapy is called unified detachment, Hendriksen says.

But what also helps is to come into the conversation clean, like it’s the first time. You stay away from lines like, “I know you’re gonna get defensive,” a preface that has never caused someone to exhale. Instead, you want what Silberstein-Tirch calls “beginner’s brain.”

It means being present for the conversation that’s about to happen. It’s impossible to do this every time, but if you can foresee a difficult interaction, deep breathing can help slow you down. So can noticing three things you see, hear, and feel, in that order. “It grounds you in the here and now,” she says.

It all sounds doable and probably helpful, but also like a bit much, especially for someone else’s triggers. Really, it’s not your problem.

Maybe so, and if you had to run through these options all the time with a person, it would be too much. But if it only happens occasionally with someone you care about or need to keep working with, then it might be more beneficial to swallow some ego and take into account what matters the most in the long-term. “It’s the difference between being right or being effective,” Hendriksen says. “Do you choose being right or the relationship?”

By Steve Calechman

Source: How To Get Through To A Defensive Person

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Related contents:

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“Psychopathology: re-humanizing psychiatry”. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica. 127 (6): 436–7. doi:10.1111/acps.12091. PMID 23663272.Nevid J, Rathus S, Greene B (2018). Abnormal Psychology in a changing world. New York, NY: Pearson. p. 11. ISBN 978-0-134-44758-2.Herzig T (2010).

“Malleus maleficarum (review)”. Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft. 5 (1): 135–138. doi:10.1353/mrw.0.0161. ISSN 1940-5111. S2CID 161336612.“Perspectives: Medical”. A Beginner’s Guide to Abnormal Psychology.Cherry K (May 9, 2016).

“What Is Abnormal Psychology?”. Verywell. Retrieved 2017-03-10.Boag S (July 1, 2014). “Ego, drives, and the dynamics of internal objects”. Frontiers in Psychology. 5 (5): 666. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00666. PMC 4076885. PMID 25071640.Turner MJ (2016-09-20).

“Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), Irrational and Rational Beliefs, and the Mental Health of Athletes”. Frontiers in Psychology. 7: 1423. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01423. PMC 5028385. PMID 27703441.

Neuroticism’s prospective association with mental disorders halves after adjustment for baseline symptoms and psychiatric history, but the adjusted association hardly decays with time: a meta-analysis on 59 longitudinal/prospective studies with 443 313 participants”. Gilles-Thomas, David L. (1989)

Definitions of Abnormality”. University of Buffalo. Retrieved 2022-06-05.Bennett 2003, pp. 3–5Phares V. Understanding abnormal Child Psychology. Haboken NJ: Wiley.Sánchez de Ribera O, Kavish N, Katz IM, Boutwell BB, Back M (September 2019)Ipser JC, Singh L, Stein DJ (July 2013).

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Ignore These Myths About Life Insurance

Photo: BalanceFormCreative (Shutterstock)

Many young, single people assume they don’t need life insurance. Unfortunately, this misconception is difficult to reconcile before it’s too late. After all, life insurance is one of those investments that you can’t exactly buy after you need it, and if you wait too long, it’s going to cost a lot more to get it.

The purpose of life insurance is to provide a safety net so your family or loved ones won’t struggle to pay bills or handle other financial responsibilities after you’re gone—but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to think about it until after you have a family. Here’s what you need to know about that and other myths about life insurance that are best ignored, and what facts to consider instead.

Life insurance only matters after you die

In fact, life insurance is for the living. It’s in the name, and sure, the central reason to get life insurance is to financially protect your loved ones in the event of your death. But many life insurance policies also have living benefits, which allow you to tap into your plan in the event you are diagnosed with a terminal or chronic illness.

Another way you can benefit from your life insurance your plan while you’re still alive is through its cash value. Depending on your plan type, you may be able to build tax-deferred wealth through your policy, with the ability to make withdrawals from or take out loans against the value during your lifetime.

All life insurance is too expensive

Life insurance costs will vary depending on your age, gender, health, and specific policy. Predictably, the younger and healthier you are, the less expensive life insurance will be. For example, a healthy 35-year-old can pay under $28 per month for a term life insurance policy with a $500,000 death benefit payout and a duration of 20 years, according to Policy Genius.

If you’re concerned about costs, Business Insider advises you to start small. Get as much life insurance as you can afford for now, and then reassess when you are able to increase your coverage down the line. For your first plan, term life insurance is one of the most popular and affordable options. It’s a straightforward policy that provides a large assured sum assured for a low premium over an extended term, typically 10 to 30 years.

If you have health issues, consider looking into policies that don’t require medical exams.

You don’t need life insurance if you’re single with no dependents

This might be the most prevalent myth about life insurance: If no one is depending on you, why create a financial security blanket? The reality is that if you have transferable debt, like student loans, you could render your parents or other family members responsible after you’re dead. Life insurance is not just for married couples.

And while many think of life insurance as replacing lost income, even a stay-at-home parent who doesn’t receive a salary should take out life insurance. Although they may not be the traditional “breadwinner,” the cost of replacing childcare or other household duties is worth considering, and preparing for.

You should just stick with your employer’s life insurance

While many company life insurance policies are a low-cost (or even free) perk, they likely aren’t sufficient to meet your financial needs, typically offering around a year of your usual salary. Investopedia explains: “If you have dependents who rely on your income, then you probably need coverage worth at least six times your annual salary…Some experts even recommend getting coverage worth 10 to 12 times your salary.” It’s wise to supplement employer-provided insurance benefits with policies that are tailored to your needs.

The bottom line: Life insurance is not one size fits all

Take advantage of the fact that life insurance is highly customizable. And compared to other forms of insurance, your life insurance needs will change drastically over time. Think about it: Children, marriage, divorce, remarriage, caring for elderly family members, and retirement…and that’s just your thirties. (Kidding.)

Even if you don’t think you need it now, you should start with what you can afford and build coverage as your circumstances change. Nerd Wallet provides a handy table that will help you compare quotes now, and companies like Policy Genius make it easy to shop around for a good rate. But rather than rely solely on online platforms, it’s also worth consulting a real life professional.

By: Meredith Dietz

Source: Ignore These Myths About Life Insurance

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How to Answer “Why Do You Want to Work Here?”

Summary.    Of all the interview questions job applicants prepare for, the most obvious ones sometimes get the least attention. Yes, you came ready to share your biggest flaw, your greatest strength, a moment when you shined, and a concept you learned, but what do you do…

Sometimes the toughest job interview questions are also the simplest and most direct. One you should always expect to hear and definitely prepare for:

“Why do you want to work here?”

Like a similarly problematic interview question — “Tell me about yourself” — “Why do you want to work here?” requires you to focus on a specific answer without any clues, contexts, or prompting from the interviewer. It’s a blank space — but that doesn’t mean you can wing it and fill it with just anything.

How to Answer “Why Do You Want to Work Here?”

Drawing from my 16 years of experience as a communications coach as well as someone who’s sat on both sides of the interview table many times, I recommend three basic approaches:

  1. Express your personal passion for the employer’s product/service/mission.
  2. Explain why you would enjoy the responsibilities of the role.
  3. Describe how you can see yourself succeeding in the role, given your skills and experience.

You can use any combination of these three approaches so long as you keep your answer concise. Here’s how to tackle each approach effectively along with sample answers to use as a guide.

1. Express your personal passion for the employer’s product/service/mission.

Employers want to know you’re passionate about what they do, whether it takes the shape of a product, a service, a mission, or a brand. You can also connect your passion to the company’s core values, which can often be found on their website. Showing you’re passionate about the position is particularly important if you’re applying for a role at a nonprofit where the mission matches your personal values.

But how do you convey this enthusiasm? CEO consultant Sabina Nawaz offers useful tips in her HBR piece, “How to Show You’re Passionate in an Interview.” As she writes, “When you’re passionate about something, it tends to spill over into other aspects of your life.” Identify those examples in your own life and share them during your interview. Expressing enthusiasm is not about “display[ing] the kind of full-throated, table-thumping behaviors companies tend to equate with passion,” Sabina explains. It’s about conveying “what matters most to you.”

And remember to be clear about why you are passionate, not just that you are passionate. Simon Sinek has schooled us all on the importance of “why,” and it’s no less important in a job interview than it is in a sales call or CEO keynote.

Sample Answers

Here are examples of responses that effectively connect passion to mission.

  • “For most of my adult life, I’ve strongly supported X because I believe that Y…”
  • “X is very important to me in both my professional and personal life because I strongly believe that…”
  • “I’m very passionate about X and would be thrilled to work for an organization that subscribes to the same core values…”

2. Explain why you would enjoy the responsibilities of the role.

It’s no secret that we work harder, better, and longer when we enjoy the work, and what employer wouldn’t want that dedication from their staff? But it’s your responsibility to make that connection between job and joy clear. That connection can be as simple as “X is something I enjoy,” but expressing how or why you enjoy it makes that point even more valuable and memorable.

Sample Answers

Here are examples of responses that connect job to joy.

  • “I always enjoy helping other people learn — from my tutoring work in school to the training experiences I had at my last job — which is why I feel so fulfilled working in L&D.”
  • “I’ve always loved to write and edit — from my days at the college newspaper to the web content I worked on as an intern — so I’m excited to see that writing is a big part of this job.”
  • “Analyzing data has always been fun for me — the challenge of using numbers to tell a story and convey an idea — and I look forward to the data visualization work we’ll be doing on this team.”

3. Describe how you can see yourself succeeding in the role, given your skills and experience.

While the interviewer is hiring you for who you are and what you can do now, they’re also interested in what you can achieve in the future. After all, they’re not just hiring you; they’re investing in you.

Express confidence about your ability to succeed and grow in the role. Use phrases like “Given my experience in X, I can see myself succeeding…,” “I look forward to using my skills to…,” and “I think I will contribute by….” The key is to describe how your previous experience has prepared you to hit the ground running.

Sample Answers

Here are examples of responses that paint a peek at what may be.

  • “I can see myself succeeding in this position because I’ve done similar work in the past and know what it takes to engage these particular consumers.”
  • “I’ve found I work best in a collaborative environment, so I look forward to working with several departments to align on and achieve our goals.”
  • “After learning more about this job, I’m sure I can help you find ways to manage projects more efficiently and effectively.”

Combining the Three Approaches: Sample Answer 

Here’s a sample answer using a hypothetical marketing position for a health care company where writing, creativity, and collaboration are key priorities:

I want to work here because, with physicians in my family, I’m passionate about helping people address their health challenges and make smart decisions about their bodies and their lives. I also love copywriting and diving into editorial strategy — especially in social media — and enjoy brainstorming with colleagues to come up with the best creative ideas. When I think about the needs of this role and the integrity of the corporate mission, I feel incredibly inspired and can see myself contributing in a big way.

Key Tip: Be Specific

As you develop your answer, understand that the more specific you are, the more powerfully your answer will resonate. Conversely, the vaguer you are, the more generic — or even canned — the response will seem.

In the example above, the writer alludes to health care professionals in their family, focuses on copywriting and editorial strategy — not just writing — and mentions brainstorming, a more specific form of collaboration. These are all examples of specificity that make the answer seem more personal and unique.

What Not to Say

It’s obvious how you shouldn’t answer the “Why do you want this job” question, but it bears repeating. Don’t say you want the job because:

  • You like the salary
  • You like the perks or benefits
  • You like the title
  • You want to work remotely or in a particular location
  • You couldn’t get another job you really wanted

Before your next interview, practice your response to “Why do you want to work here?” out loud, not just in your head. And keep in mind that the best answer is less about why you want them and more about why they should want you. If you convey passion, enthusiasm, and optimism with specificity, you’ll connect to the interviewer’s wish list in a way that will leave them thinking, “This is why we want you to work here.”

By: Joel Schwartzberg

Source: How to Answer “Why Do You Want to Work Here?”

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10 Most Important Leadership Skills For The 21st Century Workplace (And How To Develop Them)

With the rise of the gig economy and with many companies adopting flatter, more flexible organizational structures, now is the perfect time to refocus on what good leadership looks like. Because, in our rapidly changing workplaces, leadership will apply to more people than ever before. You may be overseeing a project that requires you to coordinate several team members. Or you may be a gig worker collaborating with other gig workers.

Or you may be occupying a traditional management role. Whatever your job title, this precious ability to bring out the best in people will be a vital part of success.Of course, being a good leader really requires us to polish up multiple skills at once. Here are ten skills that I think are essential for leaders – with a few pointers on how to develop them.

1. Motivating others

The ability to motivate others is all part of inspiring people to be the best they can be. So how can you better motivate others?

· Ensure people know how their role contributes to the company’s vision. That their work matters, basically.

· Be clear on what you need people to do, why, and when. But, importantly, give people the autonomy to accomplish those tasks their way.

· Show your appreciation and celebrate success.

2. Fostering potential

Great leaders look for potential, not performance. Here are three ways to foster potential:

· Don’t fall into the trap of getting people to think and act like you. Encourage them to think and act like them.

· Let people know that it’s okay to fail sometimes. This is all part of inspiring people to take risks, step outside their comfort zone and test new ideas.

· Don’t let people grow complacent. Encourage them to develop their skills and think about the next stage of their career, whatever that may be.

3. Inspiring trust

What makes a leader trustworthy? The following behaviors are a good start:

· Being ethical. This means being honest and transparent, keeping promises, and generally making sure you don’t say one thing and then do another.

· Making your values clear and, of course, living those values.

· Standing up for what you believe in.

4. Taking on and giving up responsibility

Good leaders take on responsibility, but they also know when to let go of responsibility and delegate to others. When doing this, try to:

· Play to the strengths of those around you and allocate responsibility accordingly.

· Ensure people have the knowledge, resources, and tools they need to succeed.

· Decide how you’ll monitor progress without micromanaging. For example, you can agree on how the person will report back to you and how often – as well as the best way for them to raise any questions.

5. Thinking strategically

Strategic thinking requires leaders to take a wider view, so they can solve business problems and make a long-term plan for the future. To enhance your strategic thinking skills:

· Remember the difference between urgent and important. Urgent fire-fighting tasks can suck up a lot of your time and energy, leaving very little bandwidth for those things that are important from a big-picture perspective but not urgent. Constantly remind yourself of your priorities, and manage your time accordingly.

· Use critical thinking to gather data and find solutions to your most pressing strategic questions. For example, “Where will our growth come from in three or five years’ time?”

· Don’t rely on assumptions or gut instincts when answering such questions.

6. Setting goals and expectations for everyone

Setting goals is a great way to drive performance. But have you considered a more dynamic way of setting goals?

· Instead of the traditional, top-down approach (where leadership sets strategic goals, then managers set goals for teams and individuals), you might like to consider the Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) approach.

· With OKRs, leadership sets some strategic OKRs for the business, then each team and individual designs their own OKRs that contribute to achieving the company’s strategic OKRs.

· OKRs should be simple and agile. Forget annual goal-setting; OKRs are typically set on a monthly or quarterly basis.

If you’d like to know more about OKRs, check out my related articles.

7. Giving (and receiving) feedback

Good leaders are able to give and receive feedback, both positive and negative (or, as I prefer to call it, constructive). When it comes to giving people constructive feedback:

· Don’t put it off. You don’t want to overwhelm someone with a loooong list of everything they’re getting wrong. Instead, have a process in place for regular catchups, where you can chat through progress and give feedback.

· Don’t dilute constructive feedback with praise. While it’s important to regularly give people praise, I wouldn’t do it at the same time as constructive feedback. When you sandwich negative comments with a positive comment on either side, there’s a risk the person may only hear the good stuff.

· Be specific, not emotional. Just treat it as a straightforward conversation, using specific, concrete examples instead of opinions or emotions.

8. Team building

A good leader is a bit like a football manager in that they have to pick strong players who perform different roles and then shape those players into a cohesive unit. As part of this:

· Remember, each person will bring their own unique skills and experiences, be motivated by different things, have different working styles, and so on. Embrace this rather than trying to get everyone to behave the same way.

· Model the behaviors you want to see: connecting as human beings, showing an interest, listening to each other, treating people with respect and dignity, and supporting one another.

· Give feedback and reward a job well done.

9. Positivity

If you show up with a negative “this won’t work, that thing sucks, why do we bother” kind of attitude, it’ll soon spread throughout your team. Here’s how to lead from a place of positivity:

· Think carefully about the language you use, verbally and in writing. Use words with positive connotations – turning a “problem” into an “opportunity” being a prime example.

· Celebrate successes, big and small. Highlighting the little wins frequently can be just as impactful as sporadically celebrating the big wins.

· Resist the urge to complain in front of your team. As Tom Hanks says to his band of soldiers in Saving Private Ryan, “Gripes go up, not down. Always up.”

10. Authenticity

For me, being an authentic leader is a key part of building trust. So as well as being ethical (see earlier), you’ll want to:

· Practice self-awareness. A good leader is aware of their weaknesses as well as their strengths.

· Be open about those weaknesses rather than trying to hide them.

· Bring your whole self to work, as opposed to having one persona for work and one outside of work.

To stay on top of future trends and future skills, make sure to subscribe to my newsletter and have a look at my new book, Future Skills: The 20 Skills & Competencies Everyone Needs To Succeed In A Digital World.

Source: 10 Most Important Leadership Skills For The 21st Century Workplace (And How To Develop Them)

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Finding Happiness Daily Can Be a Challenge, But This Activity Will Help

Finding happiness daily can be a challenge, but this activity will help “We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy.”

Remember that episode of The Simpsons where Marge blew a mind gasket and froze up on the bridge, windows up, refusing to come out of the car? She was so overwhelmed by responsibility and the lack of time to herself that she just lost it. It’s scary to stand on the edge of such an emotional cliff.

 

Carving out some aloneness – the space to breathe and meditate – is imperative. We need time to cultivate ideas, feel through concepts and simply be as a human being instead of constantly engaging with the world.

In today’s frantic age, I think it should be one of our greatest commitments. Peaceful people who know themselves and don’t feel besieged usually act kindly and with compassion, and don’t do a lot of the awful things that we are capable of as humans. So let’s stop feeling guilty for taking some moments for ourselves.

Everything we experience, emotionally or physically, is the result of chemical reactions in our bodies. These reactions are responsible for negative feelings and experiences, but they are also the reason for our joy and positivity. Love, happiness, compassion: these are all the result of a bunch of hormones that, when in balance, come to the rescue in times of need.

Endorphins, serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin are what we call the “happy hormones”. They help us have a higher tolerance to pain and physical stress, they regulate mood and help prevent depression, making us happy and sociable. They guide us in the direction of love and are the reason we strive towards our goals and feel satisfied when we reach them.

While things such as promotions, marriage, buying a house and the birth of your children are incredible, they are also rare events that we can’t experience all the time. If we postpone our joy to the weekend, or a holiday, or that promotion, we are literally robbing ourselves of an enormous amount of happiness that’s there waiting for us, every single day.

Happiness shouldn’t be some far-off goal. It should be a daily reality. And it can be, when we remember that it’s the little things in life that bring us the most joy. The following exercise is going to ensure that you feel happiness and joy every day.

Grab a pen and paper, sit down and get ready to get stuck in. Write down 10 small things that make you happy.

Focus on little events or activities that are unique to you. Holidays and birthdays are common to everyone, so they don’t make the list.

This should be a list of happiness-inducing activities that occupy a special little place in your soul and that are part of what makes you who you are. My list includes:

  • drinking a hot cup of tea in the morning and eating toast with an obscene amount of salted butter
  • sleeping in when it rains
  • reading cookbooks and cooking with beautiful produce
  • fumbling about in our ramshackle garden at home
  • watching the sunrise
  • taking long walks with my husband on a quiet weekend, when we talk about our lives
  • devouring non-fiction books

What’s on your list?

Now look closely at your list and think about how many of the activities you actually do on a regular basis. Each day? Each week? Each month?

You might be surprised to discover that although these simple-yet-awesome things bring you so much happiness, you’re hardly doing them at all.

These items are your “joy rides”. These are simple keys to unlocking more joy and happiness in your life. It sounds easy, right? But it can be a challenge.

Put the list up on your fridge, beside your bed or above your desk at work as a reminder to keep your joy rides up. If you are looking at your list and realising that you’re already engaging with some of these joy rides, then this is fabulous. Be even more ambitious with prioritising your joy.

You are responsible for your own happiness and joy. Yes, you. No one else.

By: Jacqui Lewis

Source: Finding happiness daily can be a challenge, but this activity will help

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