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Strive to squelch the defensive retort

A civil person does not endure rudeness in silence. A civil person tries to make the community better for everyone. Here are some typical requests and comments you might hear in the workplace:
• Would you please take your cell phone with you with you leave your cubicle or silence the ring?
• It is an inefficient use of the group’s time to have to repeat what you missed. Could you come to meetings on time?
• Would you use your headphones so I don’t have hear your video?
• The sounds of flatware scraping on china makes me think I’m in a restaurant. Would you please not eat in your cubicle?
• I wish you had not forwarded my email message.

It’s pretty automatic to give a defensive retort when we feel we’ve been criticized.
They might be something like these:
• I’m waiting for an important call.
• I was busy doing other work.
• This won’t take long.
• I can’t imagine it would bother you that much.
• It’s not a big deal.

That defensive retort is fast and automatic.
Sometimes we regret what we said or hopefully at minimum think about whether we violated common courtesy. I’ve observed few people who have the self-discipline to remain silent and simply listen or apologize.

The people who have self esteem, who are really comfortable with themselves, seem to be the ones who can accept or discuss well-meant criticism. That is a mark of civility. It encourages good working relationships and communication in the future.

And those who never seem to let go of defensive retorts get cut out of communication and collaboration because it’s too difficult to work with them. It’s a lonely and uninspiring way to work.

Try this instead.
The next time someone makes a comment to you that seems a criticism…clamp your lips together, take a big breath and listen. Focus on what the person is saying and think before you respond. There can be some real peace in listening and certainly it’s civil to respect the requests and perceptions of others.


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This is excellent advice for the work place, and should also apply to all situations in life that involves communications with family, friends, home, church, school. Defensive retorts are so easily spoken when someone feels they are being criticised. Quick replies are often spoken in anger and "excuses" are made to cover up the critical. remark. It is SO HARD to remain silent and listen. Practice listening and may the critisims you receive be few and far between!!!