The problem with becoming defensive is that our internal narrative gets in the way of expressing what’s actually going on. Because we’re imagining all the blame and shame and scorn that the other person may or may not be feeling toward us, we bring those feelings into our words and actions, and end up making a mess.
And the problem with being offensive is that the person we’re offending can no longer hear what we’re saying.
Communication lives between the two. We do best when we can describe the actual, the same way we might talk about the weather. Here is what is. Simply that.