Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Always on the Defensive

It's no secret that I tend to get defensive when I am criticized. I don't accept constructive criticism from loved ones very well. I can take it from coworkers and supervisors, only because I will wait until I am at home to get defensive about it.

In my defense (ha ha), after I step back and think about things I am a perfectly pleasant person again. I just need a chance to see the big picture, understand that I am blowing things out of proportion and that criticism does not mean that the criticizer thinks I am always wrong/terrible at my job/ugly/stupid/mean.

I think that, to an extent, this is fairly normal human behavior. Mine just seems to go a little farther because I happen to work with my husband. I love almost every aspect of this arrangement. Seriously, it is fantastic 97% of the time.

The 1% that I do not always love is when I want to leave work and Levi doesn't, or when he wants to leave but I want to finish something, but we have to drive together because we carpool. That is not a big deal and is very rare. Plus he is really accommodating in situations like that. (I am a little more impatient.) Other couples say that they would not be able to spend that much time with each other, but that is not a problem for us.

The 2% that is sometimes an issue is this defensiveness issue. When I complete a project at work and a coworker makes a suggestion, I have no problem taking that suggestion and either implementing it or "taking it into consideration," which means mentally telling them to go to hell and deleting their email.

However, when Levi makes a suggestion about my work I get defensive and want to rip his head off. Let me be perfectly clear that he is a smart man and makes very valid comments and suggestions. This is my own weird personality flaw showing itself to the world. I mean, I don't even understand it myself. What do I want him to do? Only give me praise? If he really thinks that something can be done in a more efficient manner, he should definitely tell me, just like he would tell anyone else in the office.

I know that I can't simply stop being defensive overnight. So the first step of my stop-being-an-idiot process is to keep it under wraps. When Levi says, "that looks great, but you should probably include blah blah blah in paragraph five," I need to keep my lips firmly closed, nod my head, and walk away. I can be defensive in my head for the next two hours if I want to, but he will not know it.

If I can accomplish that for a week or so, my next step will be to verbally acknowledge his suggestion. No agreeing or disagreeing, just repeating it back to him without using a bratty tone. Um... let's see if I can get through step one first.

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