The Secret Poison in Organizational Communication

Joe Wynne is a versatile Project Manager experienced in delivering medium-scope projects in large organizations that improve workforce performance and business processes. He has a proven track record of delivering effective, technology-savvy solutions in a variety of industries and a unique combination of strengths in both process management and workforce management.

There is a particular form of behavior that poisons proper communications in any group, large or small, when exhibited by even one person. Eliminating this behavior is essential for the success of your work group and project. This poison is rarely dealt with appropriately, sometimes it is not even discussed despite its toxic effects. “Defensiveness,” is its name. People who exhibit this behavior may not even realize they are doing so. They certainly do not realize the negative impact to your project. It's time we learn to counter this workforce toxin.

Here are several examples of how you may experience defensiveness in others:

Example 1
You: Nancy, I was looking at your report, and I noticed that you left out the schedule details…
Nancy: Well, how can I get these things right when I have to stay late and put out fires?

Example 2
You: Jeff, can I speak with you later about the latest error rates?
Jeff: Why? There's nothing we can do at this late date that I have not already tried! 

Nancy and Jeff evidently picked up some kind of threat in what you said. They are defending themselves against something. You will likely be taken aback at these kinds of responses because you have not necessarily said anything threatening. You might think “Don’t bite my head off!” or "Whoa, I didn't expect the Spanish Inquisition!" (No one …

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"Of course the music is a great difficulty. You see, if one plays good music, people don't listen, and if one plays bad music, people don't talk."

- Oscar Wilde