A culture of defensiveness in the workplace can become highly toxic. It leads people to seek to blame others to avoid taking responsibility for their own mistakes, creating a siege mentality and ultimately undermining trust. Yet defensive behaviour is a natural response to fear of failure in some cases. So, what is the best way to manage it?
A climate of trust
Before asking yourself in frustration, “why can’t she take criticism?” or “why does he always react so defensively?”, it’s worth taking a look at your own management style and the prevailing culture in your workplace, and specifically at the level of trust that exists within the organisational hierarchy. The 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer
, an annual survey of 33,000 people around the world, finds that only 72% of employees trust the organisation they work for. It’s unsurprising, therefore, that people react to situations in which they feel insecure or under attack by seeking to deflect blame and put up defensive barriers.
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