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How to Defend Yourself Without Appearing Defensive

How to Defend Yourself Without Appearing Defensive
Defending others is much easier than defending yourself without appearing defensive. Here are some ways to keep your defense from backfiring.


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Defending everyone's fallibility

Defending everyone's fallibility

When people don't trust you, you’re already at a big disadvantage and anything you say can be dismissed as mere defensive revenge.

The best you can do is to resist fighting for infallibility. Instead, defend everyone's fallibility. You will regain credibility if you posture as a learner, not someone last-word learned.



The art of presenting ideas

Aristotle’s distinction between three aspects of rhetoric:

  • Your logos or logic: your reasons, the facts of the matter as you see them.
  • Your pathos or emotional appeals to listeners.
  • Your ethos, your identity or posture: what kind of person you portray yourself as being, so that listeners would want to adhere to the you see things.


Exhibit some fallibilism

  • Make your doubter's case against you, so that they feel heard. Visit the possibility that you’re wrong.
  • Show that you get them by giving voice to their doubts.
  • Identify an error you’ve made or something you’ve learned from their feedback.
  • Admit to miscalculation.
  • Honor their right to decide for themselves whether to believe you.


Have an exit strategy

Be careful during the debate, knowing you may have to withdraw in the end. If you take good care, you can withdraw with the consolation of thoroughness. Though you tried hard to restore common ground, you didn’t succeed.

If you have an exit strategy, a way to explain to yourself why you didn’t restore common ground, you won’t feel panicked and tempted to force them into restoring trust in you.



3 elements of a persuasive presentation

... that are core to making it a success, according to  Aristotle: Persuasion requires appealing to ethos (trust), logos (intellect), and pathos (emotions), no matter w...

Sheryl Sandberg and the importance of an engaged audience

From sharing a company's successes and telling a powerful personal story to using meaningful data and citing the experts -- as well as delivering a message with passion -- there are multiple ways to shift listeners from feeling bored to getting on board.

Sheryl Sandberg does that, in her speeches.

Sheryl Sandberg presentation techniques

  • Involving the audience intellectually and emotionally from the start. Her questions required people to participate physically, intellectually, and emotionally.
  • Making an evergreen topic fresh and evocative by connecting it to today's headlines. This will most likely generate an emotional response from an audience.
  • Being personal and vulnerable. This builds trust and empathy with her listeners. 

Getting into remote working

Getting into remote working

Workers around the globe have been forced to take on the promise and challenges of virtual teamwork.

Many people are more used to working in person and haven't had the opportunity to pr...

Working well

Virtual teamwork places greater emphasis on communication and organization.

Over the short-term, newly formed virtual teams experience more negative outcomes, such as team conflict, lower satisfaction, less knowledge sharing, and poorer performance. But, they will adapt and improve over time.

Adapting quickly

At an individual level, some people will find it easier to adapt than others.

  • A study revealed that when people are imaginative and enjoying a new challenge, they are happier to embrace virtual teamwork.
  • Extroverted individuals prefer face-to-face work, and virtual work may lessen the energy they get from social interaction.
  • Introverts are better at adapting to a virtual environment as it involves less face-to-face interaction.
  • Those who like to make quick decisions prefer virtual teams.

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