By Joe Moore
Do you get a bit uncomfortable in a conversation where you think your contribution, or performance is challenged? When you start to think that others are trying to get you to change, do you become a little uneasy and try to change the subject of the conversation?
When I am uncomfortable in a conversation where I am being told something about myself I don’t really want to attend to, I change the subject of the conversation. I sometimes channel Bart Simpson “You can’t make me, it wasn’t me, I didn’t do it.”!
I suspect there’s a little of Bart in all of us.
Defensive behaviour – putting up barriers to or avoiding information that may improve life at home and at work. Some are so defensive about the way they now behave (the status quo) that they decline to consider changes.
Defensive behaviour stops us from being well-informed. Defensive behaviour helps us not to change, prompts us to focus only on information supporting what we are doing.
Common defensive behaviours include:
- Blaming others – “My colleagues have no sense of urgency”
- Denying – “There is nothing wrong with our service”
- Rationalising – “People work better under the pressure of tight deadlines”
- Minimalising – “It’s not a big deal”
Is defensive behaviour just a personal eccentricity – or is it costly to personal and business relationships?
It’s both isn’t it?
Let’s look at some of the costs. Defensive behaviour may be a barrier to:
- openly discussing and reviewing errors and near misses.
- using customer complaints as a source of information about product and service enhancement.
- resolving conflict.
- working collaboratively.
- developing your relationships.
Are you avoiding information, feedback and conversations that could help you improve?
It will be obvious to someone.
Let’s hope they care enough about you to let you know.
About Joe: Joe Moore is the founder and principal of Kimber Moore & Associates. Joe and his team are highly skilled in helping leaders and staff deal with uncertainty, change, complexity and conflicts. You can read more of Joe’s posts and contact him here