01/15/2015 10:45 am ET Updated Mar 17, 2015

The Secret to Defeating Defensiveness

Do you know someone who enters conversations with their dukes up? Maybe it's a colleague or boss at work. Or maybe it's someone around the dinner table or at family gatherings. You know, the person you wish would just relax, take a chill pill and stop arguing and interrupting. You've probably done everything humanly possible to change the outcome -- to no avail. If someone in your life fits this description, you can't afford to miss this week's vlog (see below).

When does defensiveness show up in your world? It's that moment when you hit an emotional landmine. The topic might be who's going to do the dishes, the latest political drama or even the status of your relationship. It doesn't really matter. What you know is that there's a lockdown on communication and a subsequent stalemate. Learn to transform defensiveness with the questions in your awareness prescription.

  1. What recent conversation, situation or experience has left you feeling defensive?
  2. How does your body physically react to this memory (e.g., tight muscles, jaw constriction, shallow breaths, sweaty palms or racing heart)?
  3. What does this experience remind you of? What are you protecting?
  4. What or who do you need to forgive from a past experience when you felt unprotected?
  5. The next time you encounter defensiveness, how might your experience transform if you were curious instead?

Please leave a comment below and share your answers--I'd love to hear from you!

To creating meaningful connections,
Doctor Neha

P.S. Role modeling behavior is much more powerful than preaching to someone else about how they should change (and a lot more effective!). Get curious, not furious and you'll inspire others to drop their defenses.

Neha Sangwan, M.D., CEO of Intuitive Intelligence is an Internal Medicine physician and corporate communication consultant who empowers people toward better health by teaching them practical communication tools to strengthen their relationships, decrease their stress levels and create the life they want. Learn more about her at her website, You can also subscribe to her newsletter, become a fan on Facebook, follow her on Twitter, connect on LinkedIn, or watch her videos on Youtube.

To pre-order Doctor Neha's book, Talk Rx: Five Steps to Honest Conversations That Create Connection, Health, and Happiness, click here.