How to Deal with the Chronically Defensive Person


0 QnVzaW5lc3NfMDQ3LmpwZw==Dealing with the chronically defensive person is among the most difficult, and frustrating “crucial conversations” we can have.

In the 35 minute video below, from a recent webinar, you will learn how to bring up a touchy issue with someone who gets defensive easily, and how to give that defensive person feedback.

Beneath the video, you will find the slide content if you want to scan or review, and a link to download a PDF document that has the same content.

If you would prefer to download the MP3 and listen later, right click here

 The Problem

  1. The Clinical Nurse Leader needs to gather critical information
  2. The nurse’s defensiveness makes this process less effective
  3. It also makes the CNL’s job harder
  4. This could have a serious negative effect on the organization and other people’s lives


What Points Might the Nurse Leader Want to Raise?

  1. The ongoing pattern she’s observed.
  2. Collecting information and giving this feedback is one of her responsibilities….
  3. How important it is to the clinical leader that they have open communication.
  4. How important it is to the clinical nurse leader that team members be coachable
  5. Her desire to give the feedback in a way that feels respectful to the nurse, i.e. in a way that “works” for the nurse.
  6. Her desire to get feedback from the nurse on how to do that.
  7. The fact that she is coming from a place of goodwill.


To Make This Happen

  1. Put The Conversation in Context
  2. Name the Game
  3. Express Your Goodwill and Positive Intent
  4. Involve The Other Person in the Solution

The Declaration/Invitation

“Jane, I went to a seminar yesterday on constructive conversations, and we were asked to think of conversations we have a hard time with and want to get better at. One of the ones I thought of was our conversations about the adverse event occurrences. I feel bad that what I want to be a useful conversation—useful for you, me, and the hospital—ends up being uncomfortable for you and me.

Even though I see them as simply feedback to minimize these occurrences, it seems like from your response that you feel like you’re being reprimanded or that you’re somehow in trouble. I’d like for us to find a way for me to share this feedback with you in a way that works for you. Do you know what I mean?”


Follow-up Questions She Could Use To Collaborate

  1. Are there particular things I say or do that make it feel more like an interrogation or like you’re being reprimanded?*
  1. Can you give me an example of how you would like me to bring up an occurrence with you?


*If you are only giving feedback and not gathering information like the Clinical Nurse Leader is, your version of this question could be: “Are there particular things I say or do when giving you feedback that makes it unpleasant or just plain not useful?”


 If They Don’t Offer You Anything, Now What?

“I know sometimes I have to think about things before I come up with an answer, so I’d like to ask you to be thinking about this and we can revisit it, because it’s really important that we make these conversations work…so if you can be thinking about how you would like me to bring this up and how you would like me to give you feedback, that would be great.”

Webinar Notes in PDF format

Feel Free to Reach Out And Ask Questions or….if you are interested coaching or training…


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