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Kindness Korner

The Best Offense is No Defense

"The Best Offense Is No Defense"

My car was not ready as promised, at 5:00 o'clock. Then when I finally retrieved it the sticker indicating date, mileage and viscosity of the oil had not been applied. So I strode grim-faced back to the service desk. "I'm really irritated", I stated firmly, and proceeded to spout out my dissatisfaction, questioning seriously whether the oil had even been changed at all. My head of steam rose rapidly. All the day's tensions were mounting and about to erupt on the Service Manager's head. Then he eyeballed me and said, "You know, I'd be upset too, if I were you."

A long pause followed. Speechless, I looked at him. Like a helium-filled balloon stuck with a needle, I deflated. My hot air drained like magic. My head of steam cooled off like a tamed pussycat. I became a decent human being again.

Understanding and acceptance, like magic, defused me. I had been understood! Instead of the defensive posture I anticipated, I got understanding. Expecting indifference, I had backed up and gotten a running start in order to hit hard enough to get the attention I felt I deserved. The target, however, neatly sidestepped my attack, and I fell flat on my face. Prepared for defensiveness I received empathy and acceptance.

That Service Manager demonstrated what a major difference acceptance and understanding accomplishes, in contrast to defensiveness.

Life's best game strategy, sure to win, is to play no defense whatsoever. There is a lot of truth in every criticism, complaint, or attack, leveled at us. Therefore dropping one's guard not only disarms the plaintiff, but allows truth to enter our otherwise closed minds. Acknowledging the legitimacy of the accusation, or dissatisfaction, usually satisfies the unhappy. They feel heard as their cry is received and understood.

Proverbs says "A soft answer turns away wrath".

The truly soft answer is a non-defensive one. Defensive answers are crusty and hard. They cause the other person to back up, build up a better attack and come on stronger and angrier. The soft, understanding, reply says "I hear you. I accept what you are saying." Anger is defused. The need to hit harder in order to be heard melts away. Most people want to feel as if they have been heard, that their cry is accepted, and cared about. They don’t even need to have it fixed.

We can drop defensiveness almost totally. In the game of life, a lot of games are won by those who play little, or no, defense.

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