You are inherently wired to detect threats: anything you sense might cause you harm, deplete your resources, or obstruct your goals.
You're also inherently wired to neutralize threats you detect by distancing yourself from them, diminishing them, or destroying them.
Threat detection and neutralization are hardwired into our human nature, and with good reason. Our nature says, "Watch out. This is a threat. What are we going to do with this threat: distance ourselves from it, diminish it, or destroy it?" We would not have survived history without this crucial element of human nature.
The problem is that we still have the same threat detection system we used to survive the last 5,000 years, only now we use it to defend ourselves against minor threats or not threats at all, and we struggle to notice the difference.
Feedback is the most common situation where human nature pushes people to misidentify a threat and overreact. Whether feedback comes from a client, stranger, teammate, or family member, there is a tendency to feel attacked and get defensive.
When someone feels threatened by feedback, what do they do? Put up barriers (distance), undermine the messenger or accuracy (diminish), or retaliate (destroy).
What's scary is that this reaction is often instantaneous. We'll even do this with the people who love us, care about us, and are trying their best to act in our best interest. We struggle to see outside the bounds of our human nature.
We can't entirely overcome human nature, but we can understand it, put disciplines in place to keep it in check, and learn to work with it rather than let it undermine our efforts.
In my next note, I'll explain why a 3,000-year-old story contains the keys to forming a disciplined relationship with our human nature.
Answer the call. Do the work.
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