When we get defensive in conversation

Ever wondered why conversations can unexpectedly go downhill and become unfriendly, toxic encounters instead of productive dialogue? It’s our brain – equipped with survival mechanisms that were built in when we were still hunters and collectors – that responds defensively.

I speak with Caroline Webb, author of the best-selling book How To Have A Good Day. Caroline worked for 30 years as an economist at the Bank of England, and as a Partner at McKinsey and Company. Today she is an executive coach and speaker and runs her own business. Caroline published her book How To Have a Good Day in 2016. Published in 60 countries and translated into the most common languages in the world, How to Have a Good Day covers insights from economics, behavioural psychology and neuroscience, and translates these into practical advice to improve working life

In this episode, we speak about what causes defensive responses in the workplace. Simple, innocent events can cause unexpectedly strong reactions in our brain. This response – triggered by the amygdala – comes at the same moment our ‘thinking brain’ goes off-line and is no longer available for rational thinking and dealing with emotions. Especially, we speak about what managers can do to respond more constructively to circumstances that trigger our defenses. Caroline shares some of her most powerful tips and insights.

Like every week I also speak with Els de Maeijer, researcher Communication and Innovation at Fontys University of Applied Science in The Netherlands, who reflects on each episode and puts the insights in context. The podcast ends with practical tips to enhance the clarity of your conversations, in the office and at home.

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