Interpersonal Skills

Destructive conflict response #4:​ DEFENSIVENESS

Anxious/protective in the face of criticism.

When we trust things will be okay regardless of the outcome of conflict, there’s no reason to be defensive. We can be open to different opinions.

At the heart of defensiveness is insecurity. We don’t want to admit failure, being wrong, or shortcomings. Did you know our brain treats intellectual threats the same as a physical one?

Thoughts that lead to defensiveness:
• Their opinion is off-base.
• This isn’t my fault.

To overcome defensiveness:

• Do I tend to view criticism as a win/lose situation?
• Is there a fear-based reason I won’t face my short-comings?

• “I’m being unfairly attacked. I need to defend myself.”
• Try: “This person cares enough to share feedback with me. I should remain open to see if I can improve.”

CHOOSE to be open and receptive. Be curious about the unique point of view others have that we don’t. Change your thinking that feedback is an attack. Self-awareness and openness to feedback is a top predicator of career success.

Commit to REFLECT, REFRAME, and CHOOSE to be open and receptive.

Destructive conflict response #3 – CAVING IN

Giving in to something after originally opposing.

Caving is in tempting; it feels like the quickest path to end a disagreement. Though, it typically means you sacrifice your legitimate rights. The pain of conflict can cause us to take shelter in this option.

This short-term gain, however, comes at the expense of long-term resolution and creates unbalanced, unhealthy power dynamics in your relationships.

Thoughts that lead to caving in:
• I don’t want to upset anyone.
• Putting up a fight just isn’t worth it.

To overcome caving in:

• Do I often let others have their way to avoid interpersonal discomfort?
• Will I be satisfied with the outcome if I give in again, or will I be resentful?

• “If I speak up, this could get messy. I’ll just go with the flow.”
• Try: “Healthy conflict is productive and leads to better results. It’s important I share my viewpoint.”

CHOOSE to be open and honest about your concerns, ideas, or opposing views. Healthy conflict is shown to increase commitment and accountability.

Commit to REFLECT, REFRAME, and CHOOSE a new perspective.

Destructive conflict response #2 – BELITTLING

Making someone feel unimportant.

There’s no one-size-fits-all reason why people belittle others. Some people are unaware of their behavior and may say a person is too sensitive, or dismiss it as humor, if brought up.

People may belittle because they have unresolved anger toward a person. Other times the behavior is rooted in insecurity; putting others down to lift themselves up.

Regardless, it’s important to realize belittling behavior destroys relationships.

Thoughts that lead to belittling:
• I’m going to make you look like a fool
• I’m going to show your idea doesn’t matter

To overcome belittling:

• Have I been accused of putting someone down? Do I tend to rationalize it?
• Do I have unresolved resentment toward this person?
• Am I struggling with insecurities this person triggers?

• “He/She is being so sensitive.”
• Try: “Maybe I’m not coming across as I intend.”

Explore a more respectful and tactful way to communicate. Evaluate if something should even be said. T.H.I.N.K.: Is it True, Helpful, Inspiring, Necessary, Kind?

Commit to REFLECT, REFRAME, and CHOOSE a new behavior.

Destructive conflict response #1: ARGUING


Sometimes we have so much confidence in our vision it’s frustrating when others can’t see what’s obvious to us.

As frustration grows, we defend our position aggressively. If they don’t back down, it may intensify our need to assert ourselves.

This creates unhealthy exchange centered on WINNING, not finding a SOLUTION.

It becomes about protecting our ego, putting others in their place, or giving up as little ground as possible. It’s unlikely we evaluate someone’s position objectively.

Thoughts that lead to arguing:
• There’s no way I’m backing down
• I don’t get you; I’m obviously right!

How to overcome arguing:

REFLECT. Step back from your emotions:
• Is this thought actually valid/true?
• Am I overreacting or exaggerating the problem?
• Is there another way I could look at the situation?

“They have no idea what they’re talking about.”
Try: “They’re coming at this from a very different angle than me.”


Select a productive response you don’t normally use (see graphic). Is this response easy or hard for you?

Commit to REFLECT, REFRAME, and CHOOSE a new response.

I’m doing everything right. Why am I not getting an offer?

I’m asked this a lot.

→ I’ve done my research
→ I asked great, employer-centric, questions
→ I nailed “What are your strengths?”, connecting it to the job
→ I was confident, not cocky
→ I had answers ready for their questions
→ I provided accomplishments relevant to their need
→ I mapped my stories to their job description
→ I don’t have off-putting behaviors based on mock interview feedback
→ I listened at least as much as I talked
→ I didn’t ramble or spend 5 minutes telling one story
→ My body language checks out based on video mock interviews
→ I was on time
→ I’m not showing lack of passion

Note: Unconscious bias is real, but out of scope here.

1 in 3 of 2,000 surveyed hiring managers say they know within 90 seconds if they’ll hire you, according to Jobvite.

Why? They’re subconsciously assessing 3 things:
1. Do I respect you?
2. Do I trust you?
3. Do I like you?

Reflect on the first 90 seconds of your interviews. Did you make a strong connection?

Your #1 job is to build rapport.

Smile and make eye contact.
Share common ground from their LI profile or something in their office.
Mirror their pace: If they’re calm and you talk fast, maybe that’s an issue.

People hire people they like.