Diffusing Defensiveness

3 min read


Diffusing Defensiveness

Defensiveness is both a feeling and behaviour. Defensiveness becomes elicited when someone feels threatened, and their behaviour is to go silent, deflect communication, or vehemently defend their position.

In sales and negotiation, defensiveness keeps us from gathering information, building connections, earning trust, and moving toward an agreement.

We have all experienced defensiveness from prospective clients. Whether you meet someone at an open house or a networking event, it is not uncommon for them to feel and act defensively when talking to a real estate salesperson. Part of this is caused by people’s general mistrust for REALTORSĀ® but using the right words can diffuse defensiveness quickly and lead to building the trust and connection critical to real estate relationships.

Defensiveness also shows up in negotiations. When people feel defensive, they are likelier to stick to their positions, withhold information, and be closed to new possibilities.

Both head and heart trust are the keys to diffusing defensiveness. Earning authentic trust in a business setting can be complicated.

There are several communication skills that can make a significant difference in how people feel, behave, act and begin to trust. Let’s take a look:

“During a negotiation, it would be wise not to take anything personally. If you leave personalities out of it, you will be able to see opportunities more objectively.”

– Brian Koslow

Ask questions that are open-ended, non-judgemental, and non-steering.
This requires a mindset of curiosity and acceptance of not knowing the answer.

Use professional empathy to understand their perspective, thoughts, and feelings.
Understanding doesn’t mean you agree; it means accepting their viewpoint regardless of your thoughts/feelings.

Acknowledge the other parties’ concerns, opinions, and feelings.
This validation helps to lower their defensiveness and promotes a more open dialogue.

Listen actively.
Being present and focused on the other party takes a deep commitment. It also requires self-management to turn off your inner dialogue, step away from your biases, and quell your desire to be the expert. When people feel heard, trust increases, and defensiveness diffuses.

Use words carefully and deliberately.
Use language that is neutral, respectful, and non-accusatory. Avoid any form of confrontation. Don’t argue, even politely. Adopt a tone that is positive, empathetic, and authentically curious.

Separate the people from the problem.
Both people and problems matter, and they can get wrapped up together in a poorly managed negotiation. Dealing with each problem separately encourages mutual problem-solving and constructive dialogue. You begin to work on the problem together.

Using “I” statements.
When expressing your own perspective or concerns, use “I” statements instead of “you” statements. For example, say, “I feel we can explore other options.” Instead of “You are wrong” or “You don’t understand.”
Seek common ground. Look for areas of agreement and shared interests. By emphasizing common goals, you can build collaboration and mutual problem-solving.

Use direct communication instead of beating around the bush or being wishy-washy.
By clearly communicating what is essential to the negotiation with certainty, you are seen as competent, and the other party will feel more confident in you. This builds the head trust necessary for successful deal-making.

Remain calm and composed.
Self-manage your emotions and be fully present for the other party.
Practice your communication skills in sales and negotiation situations.

Want to master the communication skills essential to attracting clients and negotiating transactions? Join our elite Group Negotiation Coaching program starting in August. This is a never before offered program where group members bring their real-life negotiation challenges and re-enact them with Suze as the agent. You’ll see first-hand, real and raw, how Suze uses the above skill sets and negotiation concepts to master any situation. Suze will thoroughly debrief each situation with the group for maximum learning.

The AREN or CNE is a pre-requisite for this program.

We will meet three times per month for one hour. The maximum group size will be 15 people. The cost is $395 per month, but if you join in August, you get an early bird discount of $100. ($295 per month) that will last for life.