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What do you think being defensive really means?

Moms View Message Board: General Discussion: Archive May 2006: What do you think being defensive really means?
By Anonymous on Tuesday, April 25, 2006 - 01:41 pm:

I am a little ticked off right now so this may not make sense. My boss can be a real, well you know the not nice word that would show up in red dots here. Seriously. The one particular thing that has bugged me lately is she says that I am defensive. If I answer her in a way I guess that is not basically kissing her butt I am defensive. I guess I should just keep my mouth shut and take all her crap. Or at least that's what I feel like she wants. I don't yell, call names ect... I simply try to let her know what happened and she always throws it in my face that I am being defensive. Now let me say. There are times that I have had the right to be defensive, in my opinion. My boss and co workers like to blame things on the person that is not there. OR if its to cover her butt she is all for that. So maybe my tone is defensive and I don't realize it. But I hate it when she says that. What prompted this today was. I happened to be the one on call last night. I work in social service. I got paged, answered it. Took care of what I knew of the situation. I guess another dept in our agency who happened to be involved called my boss also because he had some more info. I guess he did not have the pager number. I think the bottom line is she then ended up having to deal with it. She could have called me and said deal with it but she didn't. So know she's upset. I dealt with the one call I got. So when I told her sorry this was all I knew of the call. She says well I don't mean for you to get defensive. Of course with her ususal sarcastic tone. How was I defensive. Again if I said nothing I guess I would have been better off. I will bid my time for now. She is in school and supposedly quitting in the next year. It can't be any too soon. I guess I am venting. But would also like some feedback regarding whether you think this is being defensive. Thanks. I am going anyom because god forbid she came across this.

By Dawnk777 on Tuesday, April 25, 2006 - 03:09 pm:

She sounds rather passive-agressive. She could have called you and had you deal with it, but she didn't. She dealt with it and made sure you knew about it! Yikes.

I don't have any suggestions, but it does sound like a difficult situation.

By Dawnk777 on Tuesday, April 25, 2006 - 03:09 pm:

She sounds rather passive-agressive. She could have called you and had you deal with it, but she didn't. She dealt with it and made sure you knew about it! Yikes.

I don't have any suggestions, but it does sound like a difficult situation.

By Alberobello on Tuesday, April 25, 2006 - 07:18 pm:

BUMP

Ditto Dawn, she does sound a bit weird. However, you should try and talk to her so it doesn't affect you in your work. Hope you can sort it out. I am going to bed now... hopefully someone can give you better advice. Good luck!

By Mommmie on Tuesday, April 25, 2006 - 10:56 pm:

When I think of people being defensive my thought is they should just say nothing - even though they could say something. If you don't speak you can't be considered being defensive.

To me defensive people are ones who speak too soon, offer too much information and jump to conclusions and they have this, How Dare You Accuse Me tone of voice. They are also a little paranoid. If you say nothing, then they can't say you're being defensive.

This means leaving some things unexplained and that's okay.

I'm glad for you that she's leaving. A toxic boss is no fun at all.

By Cocoabutter on Wednesday, April 26, 2006 - 08:26 am:

It sounds as though she may be young. If she is in a position of power, she may be getting a big head, and a bit cocky. I would say she needs some serious training in people skills and how to handle subordinates with dignity and respect, and some of that knowledge comes with maturity and experience.

Here is what I see going on: She IS trying to be sarcastic and cocky, but to protect herself, she manipulates you to believe that you are just being over-sensitive. That seems to me to be typical control-freak behavior.

By Ginny~moderator on Thursday, April 27, 2006 - 07:52 am:

If you mean I am defending myself against unwarranted accusations then yes, I suppose by that definition I am being defensive. I think it is professionally appropriate to provide the reason or explanation for something, particularly when it is clear that I am being accused for invalid reasons based on incomplete information. I prefer to define my actions as providing the information necessary to evaluate a situation before someone jumps to inappropriate conclusions.

You may prefer that I keep silent when I am being criticized for a bad result that I did not cause, but I believe that as a manager/supervisor, you - and the agency and clients - are better served if you have all of the relevant information before you reach a conclusion. And I believe I have the right to defend myself against unwarranted criticisms that may become part of my personnel file or evaluation.

By Eve on Thursday, April 27, 2006 - 09:56 am:

To me it's when someone doesn't hear what you are saying. They immediatly start defending their position, rather than taking in what's being said or to stop to consider that the advice or whatever could be correct or helpful. I would try telling her "Thank you for bringing that to my attention." or something. Maybe she needs an ego boost. The sarcasm would drive me nuts! Good luck.

By Mommmie on Thursday, April 27, 2006 - 11:29 am:

Ginny, you're being defensive.

By Ginny~moderator on Thursday, April 27, 2006 - 12:22 pm:

Yep, and any time anyone accuses me incorrectly or unfairly, I will be defensive. I don't think it is a bad thing to defend yourself when you are being attacked. I do think that in a work situation, it is not wise to keep your mouth shut and "suck it up". By doing that, you can be viewed as agreeing with the unfair criticisms being laid on your plate.

I don't mean one should be contentious and argue or defend every little bitty thing, but when you are being blamed for someone else's failure or when the person criticizing you clearly doesn't have all the information and would not be criticizing if s/he had full information, why not defend yourself?

By Mommmie on Thursday, April 27, 2006 - 01:41 pm:

I guess in a perfect (work) world we would all get our Full Say about everything to everybody. We could provide details and time lines and explanations and thought processes on every issue so all others have a full and complete understanding of everything that happens in the work place.

But, ya know, that's just not real life. It's not practical, realistic or professional. The less said the better. And, yes, this means having things unexplained and misunderstood sometimes. It is okay. We, as workers, will never get our Full Say and to try to get our Full Say all the time makes us look paranoid and insecure and reactionary and over-emotional.

In the above 7:52am post, you went zero to 60 in 2 seconds. You used big ten dollar words, long sentences and a formal tone. It was totally unnecessary. You felt attacked by me when I was only stating what I thought being defensive meant (that was the original question) and how to avoid being accused of being defensive (just some friendly take it or leave it advice).

I disagree that our silence makes us look agreeable. Our silence indicates maturity and security. This is the meaning of "rise above it."

By Ginny~moderator on Thursday, April 27, 2006 - 02:35 pm:

Mommie, I apologize. What I should have done is started my post with: This is what I would say to the boss who accuses me of being defensive. That would probably have helped a lot.

I didn't feel a bit attacked by you. I have felt attacked by bosses who then accused me of being defensive when I pointed out that they were not correct in their accusations. But I have also had those accusations come up on evaluations, so I learned to (a) point out the error when it happens and (b) keep a lot of erroneous accusations and the outcome to have handy at evaluation.

My son has also had a number of experiences at his present job where when one of his co-workers was asked why he didn't do thus and so, he said oh (my son) agreed to take care of it - and my son then got blamed for the task not being done. This went on for a while, until my son started (a) asking for proof that he had agreed to do the other guy's tasks and (b) stated that he would not accept blame for someone else's failure to do their job.

I think that what the original poster describes is a situation where she is not being defensive, she is just explaining how something occurred, and her boss would rather blame than figure out what happened, so she accuses the OP of being defensive. I'm not sure how "defensive" got such a bad name, but it appears to be a negative trait to defend oneself, and I don't buy in to that.

It's fine to "rise above it" when it is a church supper squabble, or a difference of opinion with a family member or in a group of friends, and I do that in such settings. But on the job there is potential for serious consequences if you don't keep your record clean in your boss's mind. If I understand Anon correctly, this is a frequent occurrence between her and her boss. Been there, had that happen, and was burned by it.

By Tripletmom on Thursday, April 27, 2006 - 09:03 pm:

I think an unqualified manager/boss is what makes people defensive.People should feel appreciated and that they're doing a good job.Having tension in the workplace and between workers is where people will tend to be defensive.I always thought getting along better with the co-workers is much better than getting along well with the boss.If you're good at you're job and you are efficient the boss can't really not like you, unless there's a personality conflict.If there's a personality conflict with the boss then you'll always be defensive.

By Dawnk777 on Thursday, April 27, 2006 - 09:46 pm:

At my clinic job, I usually do feel appreciated, even when I didn't really come to work, because I got called at the last minute!

One of our doctors always says, "Thanks for all the help," at the end of the day. I love that!

By Sandysmom on Sunday, April 30, 2006 - 04:21 pm:

Ditto, Sherri. I have worked for an unqualified boss and it is no fun. Somewhere deep inside they know they don't belong in that position and then insecurities begin to surface. Instead of praising someone for a job well done, their insecurity takes over and they end up running that person down. I've always been told that you don't need to blow someone's candle out to make yours shine brighter.

By Mrsheidi on Sunday, April 30, 2006 - 09:04 pm:

I find that, in order to gain control of a conversation like that, I ask questions. (Questions THEY should have asked.)
I *never* apologize for things I have no control over. (In the workplace, which is sad, apologies are viewed as a sign of weakness...throw tomatoes at me, I know, but this is JMHO.)

This is how it *should* have gone (I'm good at being a Monday morning quarterback) and I'll add a little bit of "Love and Logic"...

Boss- "...So, I had to take the call."

You- "You must have thought I was dropping the ball, huh?" (Empathy and understanding)

Boss- "Yes."

You- "That must have been stressful. (Empathy) Did the other agency not have my pager number?" (Stating the obvious, but this is a question SHE should have asked.)

Boss- "Yah."

You- "Do you want to give it to them or do you want me to?" (Offer choices)

And, do it all with a smile...

By Mrsheidi on Monday, May 1, 2006 - 09:57 pm:

How's the workplace going now?

By Anonymous on Monday, May 1, 2006 - 10:30 pm:

Wow I didn't expect this to be still at the top. Thanks for all the advice ladies. The workplace is going okay. I have a hard time because it can be great 75 % of the time and its that 25% that I hang on to. I admit it. We have had to get to this point though. The first year she was there I would say it was bad 75 % of the time. That is where I have a hard time letting it go and trying to forgive and forget. I got written up once for something that was found to be another workers doing and she still kept it in my file. I should have a filed a grievance then, I didn't and now I have got to learn to let it go. But that is so hard.

A lot of what you all said is right on about my boss. She is young. I am a year younger then her and everyone else is older. She appears to try and compensate for that a lot. She can be so sarcastic. Things she has said have hurt me, embarassed me ect... Like you said Ginny, the defensive thing always comes up. I get good evals but she likes to throw that up in my face. I guess I need to learn that happy medium of when to defend myself and when not. I keep deep breathing she will be gone soon, she will be gone soon. I will say she is equally not nice though. Its at least comforting that I have others to lament with. Thanks!


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