If you get defensive in a discussion, it’s because you think that what your counterpart is saying has at least some, and maybe a lot, of truth to it.
If you didn’t believe that the statement had any truth to it, you would either ignore it or laugh it off.
So you need to watch out for those statements that make you feel defensive. They are the same statements that you don’t want to be true, but at least to a certain extent are true.
The more defensive you get, the more truth the statement contains. And hence the more room for your personal growth if you are able to address the issue highlighted by the statement.
As an investor, my job is to back and advise entrepreneurs. This post is about the second part.
I believe that the advice that I give needs to be truthful, concise, and actionable. I think I achieve the second and third goals most of the time, but there are instances when I can improve. The first goal, however, can’t be compromised. It’s my responsibility to always tell the truth.
Sometimes telling the truth creates pleasure. The truth is aligned with what the entrepreneur wants to hear so there’s no potential for disagreement.
But sometimes telling the truth creates pain. The truth is something that the entrepreneur doesn’t want to hear and ignoring it lets them avoid short term pain.
But telling the truth is something that I can’t compromise, and so I tell it. Often, since the entrepreneur doesn’t want to experience the short term pain, they don’t accept the truth. Sometimes they reject it gracefully, and sometimes adversarially.
And sometimes they accept it. Sometimes they say “You’re right. Thank you for telling me the truth. You’re doing me a big favor”. Although this happens more rarely, when it does, you realize that all the adversarial reactions are worth it.