Listening Without Defending

by Cynthia Jennings on May 20, 2020
We all have faults. However, none of us enjoy hearing about them. When others tell us how we’ve hurt them or confronts us regarding sin; defensiveness, fear and pride often rise up.

These three reactions potentially harm our relationships, hinder emotional intimacy and likely increases the hurt, as does trying to tell them the reason they “shouldn’t feel that way.” Keep in mind we don’t have the right to decide what should or should cause someone pain.

Listening without getting defensive, for some is a hard skill to master. This is true when our spouse {family or friend}, is talking about our triggers. Triggers are issues sensitive to our heart. Triggers can raise the wall of defensiveness that encompass fear because some of us are accustomed to being cast off and pride which creeps in due to us not wanting anyone pointing out or correcting out our faults.

While it’s important for our spouse {family or friend} to voice their complaint. It’s also vitally important for the listener to do the following to prevent them from responding defensively.

*Self-soothe: Prevents the listener from responding defensively. Self-soothing helps keep your emotional brain from overpowering your rational brain, thus self-regulating so you won’t “flip out” and say something you don’t mean or will regret.

*Affection and respect: When the tough conversations happen it’s easy to fall into being defensive and remain in that thought. However, it is helpful to focus on your affection and respect for your spouse {family or friend}. Try to recall fond memories that demonstrated love, how the love is more important than the conflict and believe the love will help get you through the conflict.

*Don’t take the complaint personally: Sometimes it’s very difficult not to take the complaint personally especially when triggers are discussed. If you feel yourself becoming defensive ask yourself why? Remember your spouse’s complaint is about their needs, not yours. Self soothe so you can be there for them.

*Reframe: In the midst of the complaint a trigger may be said. To harness your defensiveness, it’s ok to ask for the statement to be reframed so that you can understand the need and devise a plan to meet the need.

When someone share their concerns with us, love demands that we listen without trying to defend ourselves, excuse our behavior, or minimize their feelings. If there is the need or opportunity to ease their pain or insecurities by explaining our actions. Begin by saying, “I’m sorry I hurt you, and I can understand why you feel this way.” No matter what we do or don’t say, our priority must always be on strengthening the relationship, instead of being right. The moment we lose sight of this we are in danger of creating further damage and distrust.

In our broken world it’s unfortunate that we often respond to the failings or pain of others with a lack of grace and at times rejection.  When your spouse {family or friend} brings a complaint to you, take a deep breath and think before responding to prepare your heart to listen without defending.

PEARLStoPONDER: Learn to listen to understand not just to respond, prove your point or to be right. Listen to help the other person heal.

Proverbs 12:15--The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.

Proverbs 17:27-Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.

Proverbs 18:2--A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.

James 1:19—Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.
Please fill in the information and your comment will be forwarded to the website administrator.
Your comment will be visible after the page administrator completes the publication process.
Security Question:
What is the sum of 3 and 2? *