Breakdown in communication is the root of so many failed relationships or friendships.
Despite there being probably millions of different self-help books on this subject, many of the people I work with need an immediate and practical solution to this problem.
De-escalation of the issue is the primary need and waiting for weeks to get through a self help book might not be where to start, although I would certainly recommend it for continued care because habits take hard work to break.
First I will tell you the concept that you are working with to overcome communication breakdown, then I will tell you the solution. I highly recommend not skipping the concept, because it helps to understand WHY this works.
Concept: Problems exist completely separate from the people experiencing them
The reason that defensiveness happens in the first place, is rooted in feelings of shame that are often so triggering from past trauma, that a protection mechanism has been put into place so that these feelings are replaced with anger.
Individuals who find themselves defensive, are having an emotional reaction that is triggered by feelings of vulnerability.
Feeling vulnerable, or attacked, or unsafe emotionally, can lead to the physical body wanting to replace these feelings, because they are awful to experience.
The physiological response to this, when there is an emotionally traumatic past, is anger. Anger feels powerful, and gives you the sensation of having control over the situation. This reaction releases adrenaline, which is actually an addictive hormone our body releases during its “fight or flight” response.
The issue is, that once the anger subsides, you realize that instead of ACTUALLY having control of the situation, you have often made the situation worse, and have hurt or scared people around you.
On top of this, it very rarely is an effective solution to a problem. Parts of your brain actually shut down during a fight or flight response so anger is actually a very damaged place to make decisions from.