Defensive behavior can be detrimental in both personal and professional spheres.

We typically perceive defensive behavior as an intentional slight or offense to us. But what we don’t realize is that we are also capable of unintentional offense. As human beings, we react to our environments and, when we feel threatened, we try to protect ourselves. So, if it is so instinctual, how can we control it?

Defensive behavior usually stems from a perceived threat. But there are a number of ways that defensiveness can manifest itself in human behavior. We react to different stimuli in different ways, and the same goes when we are being defensive. It is the type of threat we perceive which triggers specific defensive behavior.

6 Things That Hide Behind Defensive Behavior


Dogmatism is defined as ‘the expression of an opinion as if it were fact’. The same is true in a dogmatic character.

To the dogmatic, it’s either you’re wrong or your right, all or nothing. This thinking can cause people to act defensively when they encounter a grey area. This can show in behaviors such as argumentative behavior and strops.


Impulsiveness can cause people to act before they think. If they make a mistake, they may not always be so willing to own up to their slipups. Trying to shift blame or make excuses for impulsive behavior is an easy way to spot those who are trying to rationalize their actions.

Manipulative Behavior

Manipulative behavior causes tension in any situation, as no one wants to feel as though they’re a puppet for someone else’s gain. Defensive behavior in these situations is usually cautious and distrustful.

Being guarded

Guarded people typically behave more defensively, as they are trying to hide information from others. This can cause friction when they fear they are going to be questioned or confronted.

When defending themselves, guarded people are usually very evasive of questioning. They will try to change the subject as soon as possible.


Superiority typically causes defensiveness of those on the receiving end in a similar way to manipulation. It is typically a trait of someone with a higher position.

Defensive behavior in these circumstances may not be at the time of a conversation but may come later in the form of ridicule or gossip. Pointing out the flaws in someone who is seemingly superior is a way of making them feel less of a threat to us in the future.

Being critical

Critical people will always garner defensive behavior. Concentrating on the negative aspects or the mistakes within a situation causes defensiveness in the future, as people are more sensitive to being told they are wrong. This usually presents itself in impatience and dismissal of the criticisms.

How to Deal with Defensive Behavior

Defensive behavior can be difficult to manage, as it does not always come from ourselves. There are times when we must learn to handle other people’s defensive behavior in order to keep the peace.

Where defensiveness is a personal trait, it may be difficult to change another individual’s behaviors. So you may need to learn to moderate your own.

There are a number of strategies you can utilize to help you control both your own defensive behavior, as well as stay calm in the face of defensiveness in others.

Rethink the scenario

By re-framing the situation and taking in the perspectives of others, we can see the situation in a new light. What we may perceive as defensive behavior may be natural reactions to threats in our own behavior.

By looking at things from another’s perspective, we can learn to regulate our own behavior and be more respectful and calm to get better results in the future.

Be self-aware

Taking the time to analyze what makes you feel defensive can help you to recognize these triggers in the future and become mindful of them.

By keeping in mind what issues can cause you to become defensive allows you to keep them out of your environment, or simply regulate your behavior when they are present.


Keeping your mind open to the perspectives and feelings of others will make others much more responsive. Simply respecting the needs of others and taking them into consideration can quickly erase both your own defensive behavior as well as that of others.

Deep breaths

There are times when we can’t escape a difficult situation and we must have control of our behaviors so as not to cause offense. When we can’t remove ourselves from a situation, it is important to remain calm and take deep breaths until we can take ourselves away.

Defensiveness can cause serious issues in relationships. It can also cause offense to those we may not want to cause offense to.

By creating a calm environment and being open to the views of others, it is easy to remove unwanted defensive behavior and improve your personal relationships along with work productivity.

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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Michelle

    Hi, I am a very guarded person. This is not because I have something to hide; in fact with me what you see is what you get. I feel that I am guarded because I don’t trust anyone and don’t want to be hurt, as I’ve lived through a lot of traumatic experiences. Once I truly get to know someone who is trustworthy, I am an open book and a friend for life. Thank you for this article.

  2. Khadim Un Nabi

    I am Khadim,its were described in very easy language.

  3. Tressa Bridges

    Enjoyed your article today and learned a lot.
    Best wishes to you in reaching out and helping others.

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