Why Do People Get Defensive?


8 Answers

Joe McHugh Profile
Joe McHugh answered
The clue to the answer to this question is in the question itself. There is never a need to defend something, regardless of what it is, unless it is considered to be under attack. The reason that people get defensive then, is because they feel that they are being attacked. Whether they are or not is a different issue.

Different people have different thresholds when it comes to criticism and so may become defensive if they believe that they have been criticised even if there was none meant. There is no one simple explanation why this may be the case because everybody’s experiences are different. Perhaps someone has spent a long time being criticised, ridiculed or verbally bullied and has decided to assert themselves for a change. This could lead to every comment that is directed at them being analysed for potential attack, and so make them more prone to being defensive.

Perhaps the criticism (attack) is real and unjust, so the defensiveness is justified; or perhaps the defensive person is unable to deal with any perceived attack and so over reacts.

If you find that there are a great deal of people who become defensive when you are around, perhaps you need to have a look at what it is that you are doing that is making them this way. We have all unintentionally upset somebody through being tactless, but some people take pride in being direct and ‘calling a spade a spade’ thinking that it is an asset, when very often it is little more than inconsideration and bad manners.

If, on the other hand, you are close to someone who you believe over reacts, maybe there is something that you can do to assure them that no attack is meant and help them to restore some self confidence to be able to deal with these situations.
Ryan Rugraff Profile
Ryan Rugraff answered
People get defensive for a number of reasons. It could be that they are uncomfortable with the topic, their ego may be bruised, or they could just be used to abusive people taking advantage of them etc. Mostly though for what ever reason is at the base of it, they feel that they are under attack. For instance often individuals will get defensive even with criticism that is helpful, just because their ego is so fragile they can't except it, so they see it as an attack on the ego and then become defensive.
Anonymous Profile
Anonymous answered
People get defensive because there's some truth behind what is being said to them.
thanked the writer.
paul bombolis
paul bombolis commented
Although i do agree with your assertion to a point, but it can be a culmination of nerves, constant questioning of ones character, and just not wanting to share private matters. But a friendship should develope as such to foster communication that is both understood to be true and accurate, as well fun and reliable without giving the impression that you are doing anything else to the contrary such questioning their integrity.
Anonymous Profile
Anonymous answered
Having been there, I believe there is such as thing as being "too nice".  Some people are rude, unintuitive and aggressive, and it is necessary to defend yourself assertively and abruptly.  Some people find that hard to do, because they are constantly thinking in the framework of fairness, which is completely just, but can lead to you searching for words, and then not finding them, leading you do feeling down, guilty and frustrated.  This is unacceptable, stand up for yourself!  Don't make others make you feel and guilty and certainly don't feel guilty slightly going over the rude line, if someone is exploiting and emotionally damaging you!!!
Drummergal Profile
Drummergal answered
In these times I notice it is getting worse , and I guess it is also part of nature because I have seen it in very young children .
Everyone one wants to be okay and when someone steps in there space they get offending when being put down .
I'm sure these are a few of the answers .

Good Question Nosy

Anonymous Profile
Anonymous answered
I believe people become defensive for different reasons, some people become defensive when others are crossing certain boundaries and are becoming aggressive towards them... I believe the main reason why people become defensive is due to their ability to adapt and protect them selves, in other words its a natural instinct that we possess to survive, we humans are always capable of protecting our selves even when we don't realize it.
Anonymous Profile
Anonymous answered
They are ignorant apparently.
It could be they always think they're right and that is their key value, and don't you mess that up.  But through truth in logic these people will come around to follow others.

Also it could be they don't trust others, because they believe you will lead them astray.  Seems like a lack of respect and/or knowledge on the topic is problem.  

Perhaps its a matter of weakness, they don't want to show any sort of weakness and they are aggressive towards people who think they can do better or are better than them.  Did someone say class issues? Be it the teacher or the student someone is broken.

Can't think of anymore reasons, but its all foolishness in the end and those people have quite a learning disability, and will have a harder time than others reaching their best and never world class greatness due to lack of coaching.  The reason I say that is because the best in the world at anything have taken in coaching for around ten years to reach pinnacle of success in a profession.
tina harris Profile
tina harris answered
I think they are just tired. Tired of having to defend themselves all day. So they get on the defensive side. They just don't want to be bothered I think..
thanked the writer.
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tina harris
tina harris commented
Thank you. .but don't you really think this. It's the truth. People just get on your last nerivs... So people just become defensive..don't they.
Anonymous commented
I acted rather defensively today. And was wondering why I did it, so googled and landed on this page. A lady who works with me constantly comments on what I eat and how much I eat. She always asks me if what I'm eating is enough and even food I consider regular food is "diet" food according to her. So normally everytime she asks me these questions, I say yes and just continue with my work. Today, I got all defensive and asked her if what she's got is enough for her and she replied, "How can you ask, you haven't seen how much of it I've brought". This conversation seems extremely juvenile, but I guess I got defensive because I was REALLY tired of her questions.

People get defensive for various reasons and I think I did this time because I was just tired.
paul bombolis
paul bombolis commented
Being bothered and tired is not really an acceptable excuse to over react to what normally can be considered a non threatening question.

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