Defensiveness

I find defensiveness really makes me lose respect for a person.

I dislike defensiveness so much that I would rather remain actually (rhetorically) undefended than risk appearing too defensive. If someone’s being accusatory, I tend to feel like I should give them the chance to convince themselves that I’m innocent, rather than to try at all to convince them myself.

I’m not entirely sure how weird I am for thinking in this way, or how it came about that I think in this way. At this point it is a reflexive response. I don’t even need to think about it. But I have no idea if there are other people who see things similarly, or how many.

I do think it sometimes throws people off when I respond to an accusation with a shrug and an “I’m sorry you think so.” People often aren’t sure what to do with something like that. This suggests to me that even though I’m probably not absolutely unique, I might be at least a bit odd for being this way.

I think the reason why I am so resistant to seeming defensive, and why I find it so deeply not compelling when someone else is not managing (or is not even trying) to avoid seeming defensive, is that it comes across as whiny and weak. It gives the accuser power, and defensiveness almost makes it look more like the accuser is in the right and like the defensive person is scrambling to find excuses or believable lies, often.

Personally, I don’t like the feeling of being defensive. It feels like I’m participating in an unwinnable, “he said, she said,” sort of situation, where no evidence will be decisive and everything comes down to which person seems more believable or trustworthy. And being defensive itself somehow looks untrustworthy, unbelievable.

So my impulse is not to be defensive. I will deny what’s not true, but I won’t protest. I won’t fight back if fighting back is unhelpful or even counterproductive. I’ll deny and then leave it to onlookers to judge me based on what they know of my character, which is what they would end up having to do anyway. Reacting in this way feels like the more dignified and noble way to deal with the sort of vicious character that would make untrue and unfounded accusations. It feels like the only available response that comes from, and shows, one’s strength.

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