Discovering the nature of defensiveness and "button pushing" was invaluable for me personally and for being able to now see it in others. I just loved Chapt. 2: "Hey, Buzz Off ... I Am Not Defensive!"
"Defensiveness is a poison pill to good relationships. In conflict, defensiveness is like blood in the water to a shark. A little here, a little there, and in no time the situation has degenerated into a feeding frenzy."
"Defensiveness is always based on fear."
"Defensiveness does not defend us from others. It arises to protect from experiencing our own uncomfortable feelings. The prescription for dealing with your own defensiveness is to let yourself experience those feelings. Do not avoid them."
"Defensiveness provides only temporary relief. It's like covering dog poop with whipped cream. It may look good and smell better for a short time, but it doesn't deal with the underlying issue or clean up the mess."
"If you think of your childhood as an eighteen-year-long hypnotic induction, you'll get a better idea of how behaviors that were helpful to us as children may have taken on a life of their own and my not be helpful to us as adults."
"Defensiveness distorts our reality, causing us to spend more energy on self-preservation that on problem solving."
This was great, too:
"The difference between a small annoyance and a button is like the difference between Teflon and Velcro. It is slips off you like Teflon, it is not a button getting pushed. If, however, the incident sticks in your throat, heart or gut like Velcro, then you've probably got some unresolved fears or pain that is a button waiting to be triggered."
The authors say that when buttons get pushed, people typically get dumber, rather than smarter. "By our informal calculations, there is about a twenty-point drop in IQ."
Because of this book, now when I feel my anger rising from what someone else is saying, I tell myself, "Hey, is this defensiveness? If so, am I going to let myself get dumber or try instead to see why the button pushing is making me react poorly?"