Defend Your Ideas without Becoming Defensive
Welcome to today’s lesson.
Yesterday, you learned a few ways of letting others know about your expertise and knowledge without turning them off. In today’s lesson, you will get tools for defending your ideas confidently and assertively. In this way, you can become more persuasive and influential, which will give your self-confidence a big boost.
When someone criticizes or challenges you, your self-confidence can falter. You may feel the need either to defend yourself or to agree and give in. Neither choice is good for your career or business. You don’t want to get a reputation for being stubborn and hot-headed or weak and submissive.
Start by being prepared to address objections and answer questions. When it happens, keep the result you want in mind. Focus on:
• what you are trying to achieve
• what is best for the organization or your client
• the value of your idea or opinion for achieving the result
• the value of the feedback on the result
Remember to maintain a growth mindset. People with a growth mindset see setbacks as opportunities to learn and grow. This will serve you well in situations where you feel as if you are being attacked or unfairly criticized.
The key is to pause, reflect on what is being said, and be willing to take the other person’s point of view as valid and worth considering. This immediately reduces the risk of responding negatively.
Keep in mind that others may not exercise restraint and may become angry or defensive when you pursue your ideas. Don’t let them push your buttons. Maintain a calm attitude, and continue to communicate in a polite, reasonable manner.
You may have to take a break or table the discussion. Do so with grace and firmness. Say something like, “I need to think about what you are saying. Why don’t we take a break and get back together later?”
By listening to others without judgment, you may discover that their arguments have merit. They may, in fact, lead you to change your ideas or opinions. This is good news. Your willingness to improve your idea or accept something better is the mark of a growth mindset. But there’s another benefit: This openness is a sign of professionalism and leadership.
You will gain the respect of others and become someone they want to work with and be around. You will be taken more seriously when people know you can accept and appropriately respond to feedback. All of this can boost your self-confidence. You will be listened to and respected—even by people who disagree with you.
Hearing negative, critical feedback and staying calm isn’t easy. You may have to use mental rehearsal more on this aspect of communication in order to master it. It is worth the effort. Your ability to defend your ideas without becoming defensive helps you face challenges more easily. Each time you face a challenge and succeed, you gain more confidence.
Tomorrow, we move forward in boosting your self-confidence with more tools to help you communicate with confidence.
See you tomorrow.
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