I’ve been preparing for my upcoming talks at AVMA Convention 2024. I wanted to share some key points from my talks on defensiveness and how it impacts communication and de-escalations.

The ability to create observational awareness of yourself and others when defensiveness is displayed becomes crucial in preventing conflicts from escalating. The TREND acronym provides a practical framework for identifying and addressing defensive tendencies in ourselves and others.

T (Triggers) — It’s essential to be aware of our own triggers and how our words or actions might trigger defensive responses in others. By taking the time to examine these triggers, we can better understand and manage our reactions and anticipate potential sources of conflict.

R (Response) — Instead of reacting defensively, we should strive to respond with curiosity. Asking open-ended questions and seeking to understand the other person’s perspective can help diffuse defensive or reactive behavior and pave the way for constructive dialogue.

E (Esteem of self and others) — Defensive behavior often stems from a perceived threat to our self-esteem or the esteem of others. By considering our own self-worth and respecting the dignity of those around us, we create an environment where defensiveness is less likely to arise.

N (New ways to communicate) — Encouraging collaborative discussion and active listening can introduce new, more effective ways of communicating. This atmosphere fosters mutual understanding and reduces the need for defensive posturing.

D (Deal with it early) — Addressing issues promptly and providing opportunities for all parties to express their feelings can prevent defensive behavior from taking root. Encouraging people to write down their thoughts and emotions can help them articulate their perspectives more clearly and objectively.

We can better recognize and mitigate defensive behavior by incorporating the TREND approach into our interactions. This improves communication, fosters more productive dialogues, and helps build stronger relationships based on mutual understanding, trust, and respect.

It’s important to remember that defensive behavior is a natural human response, often rooted in our desire to protect ourselves or our beliefs. By acknowledging and addressing it in a constructive manner, we can create an environment where open and honest communication can flourish, ultimately leading to more positive outcomes for all involved.

Want to hear more about this topic? Join me in Austin, TX at the AVMA Convention June 21-25, 2024.

graphic that says I'm speaking at AVMA Convention



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