Defensive behaviors


Avoiding action:

Over confirming

Strictly interpreting your responsibility by saying things like, “The rules clearly state….� Or “This is the way we’ve always done it.�

Buck passing

Transferring ones own responsibility of a task or decision to others.

Playing dumb

If a task is given and the concerned is avoiding the task by false pleading ignorance or inability on some pretext

Stretching: Prolonging a task so that one appears to be occupied—for example, turning a two-week task into a four-month job.

Stalling: Appearing to be more or less supportive publicly while doing little or nothing privately.

Avoiding Blame:

Buffing: This is a nice way to refer to “covering your rear� It describes the practice of rigorously documenting activity to project an image of competence and thoroughness.

Playing safe is avoiding situations that may reflect unfavorably and includes taking on only projects with a high probability of success, having risky decision approved by superiors, qualifying expressions of judgment, and taking neutral position in conflicts.

Justifying is development of explanations that lessen one’s responsibility for a negative outcome and/or apologizing to demonstrate remorse.

Scape goating is placing the blame for a negative outcome on external factors that are not entirely blameworthy.

Misrepresenting is manipulation of information by distortion, embellishment, deception, selective presentation, or confused.

Avoiding Change:

Prevention is trying to prevent a threatening change from occurring.

Self-protection is acting in ways to protect one’s self-interest during change by guarding information or other resources.

Impression Management (IM) Techniques:

Conformity is agreeing with some one else’s opinion in order to gain his or her approval.

Example: A manager tells his boss, “You’re absolutely right on your reorganization plan for the western regional office. I couldn’t agree with you more.�


Explanations of a predicament creating event aimed at minimizing the apparent severity of the predicament.

Example: Sales manager to boss, “We failed to get the ad in the paper on time, but no one responds to those ads anyway.�


Admitting responsibility for an undesirable event and simultaneously seeking to get a pardon for the action.

Example: Employee to boss, “I’m sorry I made a mistake on the report. Please forgive me.�

Self Promotion is highlighting one’s best qualities, downplaying one’s deficits, and calling attention to one’s achievements.

Examples: A salesperson tells his boss: “Sunil worked unsuccessfully for three years to try to get that account. I sewed it up in six weeks. I’m the best closer this company has.�


Complimenting others about their virtues in an effort to make one self appear perceptive and likable.

Example: New sales trainee to peer, “You handled that client’s complaint so tactfully! I could never have handled that as well as you did.�

Favors are doing something nice for someone to gain that person’s approval.

Example to prospective client, “I’ve got two tickets to the theater tonight that I can’t use. Take them. Consider it a thank you for taking the time to talk with me.


Enhancing or protecting one’s image by managing information about people and things with which one is associated.

Example: A job applicant says to an interviewer, “What a coincidence. Your boss and I were roommates in college.�