Don’t Get Defensive, Get Socratic
We all have people around us who aggressively poke at us. And when they do that, we tend to have a visceral reaction. In other words, we get defensive.
And when you do so, you give up the high ground. Or to put it another way, “you’ve actually lost your leadership position.” So says executive coach Stephen Miles, founder and CEO of The Miles Group. If you are acting defensively, Miles says, that is sending the signal that there actually is something that needs defending.
According to Miles, there is a simple tool that will help you avoid this. It is a tool that can be used in both your personal and professional life. When you feel provoked by someone, facilitate them, says Miles. People need affirmation more than anything, so affirm their point of view.
That will go a long way toward diffusing the situation. And then, Miles says, “stay on the front foot and start asking questions.” This style of socratic leadership, as Miles calls it, involves seeking the facts and data to back up a particular point of view. This is a particularly effective tactic, Miles says, because “a lot of people who are aggressive at work around topics actually are very anecdotal.” So once you get to the second or third question, Miles says in the video below, the anecdotal evidence simply won’t hold up.
By facilitating, instead of being defensive, Miles says “you’ll end up in the higher place” and “you haven’t lost your ability to lead that point of view.”
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