You probably don't do this on purpose.
You also most likely don't even recognize what you are doing and how it's affecting those around you.
As humans, it's quite natural to do things we believe are helping to 'protect' us and insulate us from people and situations that could possibly do us harm.
It's this behavior that at times can send the wrong message and unfortunately limit our ability to see alternate perspectives and viewpoints.
Whether you are feeling attacked, threatened, or criticised, responding defensively typically only makes things worse. Yet, it happens so frequently and is commonplace in organizations and even personal families and relationships.
So, how can you be less defensive and respond more constructively?
1). Take time to actually listen before responding. (If you are thinking about your response while the other person is still talking, then you aren't really listening...)
2). Ask some follow-up questions to get more clarification about the points being made.
3). Allow yourself the opportunity to be in the other person's shoes for a moment to see where they are coming from.
4). Remember, not every person you encounter wants to steal your job and eliminate your existence.
5). Also, even if the other person is wrong and is acting inappropriately or being out-of-line, matching and mirroring their behavior will only make you look equally bad.
6). Try and view the comments being made constructively and figure out a way to apply this information/perspective to improve what is being discussed.
Irregardless of what happens, you want to start with an open-mind and end with an open-mind. Also, it's the more mature and more calm behavior that others will remember and respect when the dust settles...