Aspire for More with Erin

How Do We Overcome Defensiveness

June 03, 2023 Erin Thompson Episode 11
Aspire for More with Erin
How Do We Overcome Defensiveness
Show Notes Transcript

This is a shorty episode about the best way to overcome defensiveness in ourselves, with our associates and residents. 

I will give you a hint: add value, make them feel valued and show an abundance of appreciation!

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Hi, and welcome back to another episode of The Aspire for More with Erin podcast. I am so happy that you're here. I know how valuable your time is, so let's get on into it. we've been going over a lot of the heavy emotions that we come in contact with when we work inside of a senior living community. We've talked about vulnerability. We've talked about shame. We've talked about courage and how to use those. Today I wanna talk about defensiveness and resiliency. I am very familiar with both of those and I'm being vulnerable and giving you all of my struggles and how I've overcome them and currently overcoming them daily because some of us have a more natural leaning into a positive mindset and being vulnerable, and others struggle with keeping that mindset to be more of what's happening for me, not to me more positive and more gracious. I, have a tendency to be the one that struggles to have a positive mindset. For some reason, mine has just been set naturally that tips more towards the negative. Um, and I'm really exercising the muscle and keeping it, in the middle of the road tipped toward positive. I have been a naturally defensive person probably my entire life, and it has been one of the barriers I think in my relationships and then also probably in my career, and it's really something that I can identify in our associates and why I can deal with the meanest of the mean the grumpiest of the grumpiest residents and associates, because I have become aware of what my struggles were that led to my defensiveness and I can see what will help eliminate or at least reduce some of the walls that other people will put up. Recently I have been diving into Brene Brown's research in shame and vulnerability, fear, and courage. And it has just been a very fascinating dive into the human spirit. And within watching and reading a lot of her content, she discussed defensiveness. And a comment was made about how defensive people have been beating themselves up for their entire life. And so then when somebody comes in and wants to be, wants to talk to them, maybe even giving honest feedback or, um, feedback in general, they protect themselves and all of a sudden they become defensive with you. And boy, that hit me like a ton of bricks. I want to give you some advice on how to manage them. Most people who are defensive do not value themselves. They are literally beating themselves up, shaming themselves for the things that they did not do that they wanted to do. Their mindset is probably a very negative place to be a minefield of emotions that could go off at any time. And so sometimes when we're faced with that type of negativity, We don't know how to be vulnerable and try to connect with them, and so therefore we do not connect with them, which then reinforces the negative mindset that they have about themselves. And so in today's episode, I really wanted to go over defensiveness, how to manage it, and also resiliency because most of these people who are defensive are often very resilient too. So if you have that person or people that you kind of avoid talking to, giving feedback to because they're defensive, I want you to try to be vulnerable with them and ask, tell them how much you appreciate them, how much you value them, and what you believe they're worth is to this community. Let me give you an example. We'll just say her name is Erin, and you wanted to bring her to your office to talk about a few things, and you say, Erin, thank you so much for being here. Come in. I just wanted to sit down and have a simple chat with you. First of all, I wanted to tell you that. I appreciate you working here. You're a valuable member of our team. You change people's lives every day, and the work that you do does not go unnoticed. We appreciate you being a valued associate here. Instantly. We have walls that have come down. You have told Erin how valuable she is. Whether or not she chooses to believe that is up to her. But you have told her. And then maybe list a couple things that she does really well and then say now want to give you some feedback on how we can help make this job easier for you. We've noticed a few things that may be, needing just a little bit of tweaking, but nothing is awful, just ways that we can do this better and then go over the ways and then at the end of the conversation just say, I really appreciate you sitting down talking with me about this and that you have done nothing wrong. This is just us communicating about something that I believe can help you do your job better. I think that the conversation would go a lot better than, Hey, we need to talk about this because if you already know that person is defensive, what is bringing them the bad news first going to do? If somebody were have come to me and told me how valuable I was, how much they appreciate me and to give me evidence of what my worth is to them. Then instantaneously things would have changed my, my comfort level of sitting down and understanding the point of the conversation would be positive one and not a negative one. And I think the moral of my story through that ramble is your defensive employees are the ones who are hurting the most. They're the ones who need you the most, but need you in a way that is true, authentic, and vulnerable. They could really learn how to appreciate themselves through how you approach them and how you talk to them. They beat themselves up way more than you beat them up Know that the way they are acting or reacting to you is how they really feel about themselves and love them harder, authentically, and I really think that you will see a difference if you can do that consistently. When I had a mentor that understood. That I got a little off balance when my work-life balance was off and tilted more towards the work that I needed her to say, Erin, you need to take a break. When someone knows those, those details about your work performance and your anxieties. There is such a trust there that I said, okay, because I knew that she was in it for me. I never needed somebody to look at my performance. I needed somebody to keep me balanced, to remind me that this place can survive without you for a day or two. I was never defensive in that moment because I knew that she had my best interest at heart and I could take criticism and construction from her because she valued me and I knew it and I valued her. When you have that relationship, it's beautiful, but when you have a relationship where somebody's wondering what their worth is to you, You're gonna have the defensiveness. So if you can consistently show and say your value and your worth to your team, you will see results. I made sure that everyone inside of my community knew how important they were. Knew what their worth was to this community knew their value to this community. It should be no surprise to know that my caregivers and my housekeepers were very empowered and they knew what their worth is to this community. That was very important to me because society wants to tell you that you have no worth, that you have no value, and that everyone is out to get you. That automatically creates defense mechanisms. It automatically creates this massive wall between two people, depending on race, religion, and politics. But if you know your worth, if your housekeeper and your care team and your maintenance team and your culinary team know that when they come to work every day that they change lives, then they're probably gonna come to work that day and they're gonna know that you value them in their position cause you consistently tell them that. That is how you manage a defensive associate a defensive resident. You let them know their worth and their value upfront, not in the middle and not in the end. Thank you for coming to see me today, Mrs. Thompson. I value you as a resident. I value your opinion and I value whatever it is you're about to say to me. So let's have it. That's how you do that. When you sit down, you roll your eyes and you're very busy, you set the tone to have a conversation that is a negative one. So practice opening up every meeting, every conversation with a family member, every conversation with a resident, every conversation with an associate with what their value and their worth is to your team. If you do that, things will change, and your superpower in that moment is consistency to honoring worth and value and lowering the defensive behaviors that you may see inside of those conversations. Thank you for your time. You are valued. You are worthy. You are worth it. I honor your time and I am so thankful that you listened to me. I appreciate it. Have a great day.