Are You Being Too Defensive When Receiving Feedback?

BY Jessica Helinski
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It’s not easy to hear criticism but responding to each critique with defensiveness could be your downfall. To be successful, you need to grow, and often, that growth comes from the corrections and advice of others. Entrepreneur Dale Partridge knows the sting of criticism firsthand but he also understands its importance. In a post on StartUpCamp​.com, he writes, “growth is rarely comfortable. But it’s taught me an illogical lesson: The secret to speeding up success is to enhance our ability to embrace correction regardless of how awkward, painful, or humiliating it might be.”

Typically, when confronted with criticism, people react defensively in one of three ways:

  • They move away. Rather than face correction, they withdraw emotionally and/​or physically (“passive avoidance”).
  • They move against. Feeling threatened, they respond with aggression, deflection or rejection.
  • They join in. This involves passively surrendering, and often, they feel like victims.

These behaviors do not allow the person to fully embrace and learn from the correction, and likely, they go on repeating mistakes or making poor choices. “Solving problems requires us to come out of our invulnerable state,” Partridge writes. “When we want to move away we shouldn’t. When we want to push against, we can’t. And when we want to play the martyr, we’re just avoiding growth.”

He shares two other lessons about being too defensive and why they are important. He also shares practices for integrating these lessons into your own life. It's not too late to tame your defensiveness and grow to reach your potential!