Hold Your Ground. Don't Be Defensive

Stephen Miles: Generally coaching, especially executive coaching around just being an effective manager, has application inside and outside the company.  If I can deal with conflict. If I can deal with defensiveness.  If I can listen for content as opposed to winning the interaction. I promise you that your interaction with your significant other is gonna be a much better interaction than if you didn’t apply those tools.  And if you can apply it to your life, I know you can do it at work as well.  And when we practice stuff we’re usually better at it.  So you have more playground to practice on.  

So I think one of the areas where I coach a lot of executives on is really the defensiveness reaction, right.  We often personalize our points of view or our ideas and there are people around us that, you know, want to aggressively poke at us.  And when they aggressively poke at our ideas, they’re poking at us.  And our response to that is usually a visceral response.  You feel it up your back and then you have a defensive reaction.  And whenever I’m assessing somebody I always poke around them to see if I can elicit a defensive reaction because if I can get you in a defensive place, you’ve actually lost your leadership position, right.  I’ve got you defending something so you must have something to defend.

There’s a simple out to this – a really simple tool.  So when you feel that visceral reaction and somebody’s provoking you, facilitate them.  So, number one, people need affirmation more than anything.  Affirm their point of view.  That’s an interesting point of view.  It’s different than mine, right.  You just acknowledge that they exist and you acknowledge that they have a point of view so there’s affirmation in that. So you’ve taken some of the heat out.  Now stay on the front foot and start asking questions, right.  Socratic leadership is one of the most powerful tools in everybody’s toolbox.

You know, help me understand that.  Where’s that coming from?  What are the facts and data that back that up?  Now you hold your leadership position. You haven’t given anything up to them and you’re really facilitating them to be able to defend their position.  And I would bet eight, nine, ten times out of ten they’re gonna get defensive because that’s never happened to them before.  Because a lot of people who are aggressive at work around topics actually are very anecdotal.  When you ask the second or third question there is no facts or data there, right. They’re just pushing you away.  What bullies do in little B form or the big B form is just aggressively try and pursue something with anecdotes.

And if you can hold your ground, not be defensive, facilitate them using affirmation to start and then facilitate them, you’ll end up in the higher place and the higher ground and you can end that conversation any way you want but you haven’t lost your ability to lead that point of view.

Directed / Produced by Jonathan Fowler and Elizabeth Rodd

 

We often personalize our points of view or our ideas and there are people around us that want to aggressively poke at us.

Related Articles

How does alcohol affect your brain?

Explore how alcohol affects your brain, from the first sip at the bar to life-long drinking habits.

(Photo by Angie Garrett/Wikimedia Commons)
Mind & Brain
  • Alcohol is the world's most popular drug and has been a part of human culture for at least 9,000 years.
  • Alcohol's effects on the brain range from temporarily limiting mental activity to sustained brain damage, depending on levels consumed and frequency of use.
  • Understanding how alcohol affects your brain can help you determine what drinking habits are best for you.
Keep reading Show less

Scientists sequence the genome of this threatened species

If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx a team of DNA sequencers has figured that out.

Surprising Science
  • A team at UMass Amherst recently sequenced the genome of the Canadian lynx.
  • It's part of a project intending to sequence the genome of every vertebrate in the world.
  • Conservationists interested in the Canadian lynx have a new tool to work with.

If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx, I can now—as of this month—point you directly to the DNA of a Canadian lynx, and say, "That's what makes a lynx a lynx." The genome was sequenced by a team at UMass Amherst, and it's one of 15 animals whose genomes have been sequenced by the Vertebrate Genomes Project, whose stated goal is to sequence the genome of all 66,000 vertebrate species in the world.

Sequencing the genome of a particular species of an animal is important in terms of preserving genetic diversity. Future generations don't necessarily have to worry about our memory of the Canadian Lynx warping the way hearsay warped perception a long time ago.

elephant by Guillaume le Clerc

Artwork: Guillaume le Clerc / Wikimedia Commons

13th-century fantastical depiction of an elephant.

It is easy to see how one can look at 66,000 genomic sequences stored away as being the analogous equivalent of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. It is a potential tool for future conservationists.

But what are the practicalities of sequencing the genome of a lynx beyond engaging with broad bioethical questions? As the animal's habitat shrinks and Earth warms, the Canadian lynx is demonstrating less genetic diversity. Cross-breeding with bobcats in some portions of the lynx's habitat also represents a challenge to the lynx's genetic makeup. The two themselves are also linked: warming climates could drive Canadian lynxes to cross-breed with bobcats.

John Organ, chief of the U.S. Geological Survey's Cooperative Fish and Wildlife units, said to MassLive that the results of the sequencing "can help us look at land conservation strategies to help maintain lynx on the landscape."

What does DNA have to do with land conservation strategies? Consider the fact that the food found in a landscape, the toxins found in a landscape, or the exposure to drugs can have an impact on genetic activity. That potential change can be transmitted down the generative line. If you know exactly how a lynx's DNA is impacted by something, then the environment they occupy can be fine-tuned to meet the needs of the lynx and any other creature that happens to inhabit that particular portion of the earth.

Given that the Trump administration is considering withdrawing protection for the Canadian lynx, a move that caught scientists by surprise, it is worth having as much information on hand as possible for those who have an interest in preserving the health of this creature—all the way down to the building blocks of a lynx's life.

Why cauliflower is perfect for the keto diet

The exploding popularity of the keto diet puts a less used veggie into the spotlight.

Purple cauliflower. (Photo: Shutterstock)
Surprising Science
  • The cauliflower is a vegetable of choice if you're on the keto diet.
  • The plant is low in carbs and can replace potatoes, rice and pasta.
  • It can be eaten both raw and cooked for different benefits.
Keep reading Show less