Do people not listen? How to spot and understand defence...

By Heidi Bo, April 2019

Are you tired of slow decision processes and people not listening to you? Then you are not alone. Do you know the method that teaches you to take back your power and enable you to set clear boundaries and break through your daily challenges? That method does exist, and in the following text you will get more details, why this also happening to you.

Imagine entering a meeting and noticing people are looking away or looking at their phone, you present your case and get a vague response and no actual decision, you experience that people are leaving very quickly when you are done with your presentation. When other people are acting this way – they spark a reaction in you – sometimes that reactions is just as inexpedient as their reaction.

This is when defence meet defence.

All people have defence mechanisms that keeps them from revealing their full potentital – but the god new is that you can actually block this defence and get back in contact with your emotions and regain attention.

Our entire emotional system can be illustrated by a triangle containing Emotion, Anxiety and Defence. A very intelligent system created to take care of you. Something in your or others behaviour or the things you are bringing into the meeting or facing, are tricking anxiety – Anxiety is maybe a strong word, but the brain doesn’t know better, it gets concerned, because experience from previously has tricked it to believe that this might be dangerous, so it makes sense for the brain to activate a defence, to take care of you.

What is a defence?

A defence is a way of behaviour that is not really working for you. It helps you to avoid yourself and your own feelings, by putting a lid on your emotions. It is often an unconscious reaction. Imagine that a very dangerous thing is happening – then the autopilot system is helping you with some basic Freeze, Fight or Flight reactions. A defence is the same – the only difference is that there is not actual dangerous situation, but your mind and body believe that something is dangerous – that something is your own emotions.

Your emotions are not dangerous, but you react as if they were – again a lot of unconscious reactions are going on.

A defence can look very different – in the above example you see some basic flight examples

  • Looking away
  • Focusing on something else like your phone to avoid contact
  • Giving a vague response
  • Walking away quickly
  • Being passive and accepting not getting a decision

All of this are autopilot reaction to avoid being present in the current situation. To avoid own emotional reaction.

The consequence is that do not acchive the results you want and you are not able to exploit your full potential.

What to do about it?

If you are tired of being stuck in defence meeting defence, there is a number of possible actions. Step one is to get to know your own defence. Think back – in what concrete situations did you end in situations and in relation with other people that did not work for you? 

The dynamic coaching method or the intensive dynamic leadership training are ways to get insight and build skill to be able to yourself and others.

Mini coaching case – Inspiration to identify own defence:

Again, back to the example .

What is a concrete example where you felt ignored and it was not working for you? “I entered a meeting, but no one noticed me when I entered, I experience everybody was looking away”

What did you do? “I sat waited quietly to get started, they seemed so busy – It did not really work, they kept being distanced, the answer I got was vague and I did not get any decision out of the meeting”

What is your feeling towards the team when they ignore you like this and do not provide you with any decision or direction? “I get angry”

Okay, you get angry and when you get angry you become silent and passive – If you should do something different – and stay and take the attention and get a decision what could you do?

“I do not know? I would like to yell and force them to listen!”

Do you think that would help you reach the result you want? “No, but that is what I would like to do.” 

Yes, so your defence is helping you not just to act on the impulse – But instead of allowing the defence to control you and make you passive and not just allow your impulse to set direction and start yelling – what could you do?

So, when you experience these situations what do YOU do? What is your defence? and how can you use the power of anger so et works for you and in a way where you set boundaries and break through with your intentions and get a clear decision and regain your position in the meeting?