Self‑Defeating Behaviors


Oftentimes, when working in or with a group, a member’s individual needs interfere with the groups’ effectiveness.  Whether you are leading the group or you are a member of the group, the groups effectiveness depends on the ability to notice manage and redirect self-defeating behaviors.  When personal goals, yours or other members, are too strong, they hamper the ability of the group to reach their common goal.

Below are some examples of different types of self-defeating behaviors:

Dependency/Counter dependency: Unrealistically “leaning on” or resisting anyone in the group who represents authority. (“You’re right, of course; whatever you say I will agree to.” “I’m not sure you’re competent enough to make that judgment.”  “Let’s run it by Suzanne.  Without her approval we might as well go home.”)

Fighting and Controlling: Asserting personal dominance; attempting to get one’s way regardless of others. (“AI will not stand for that; it is wrong, wrong, wrong!”  “No one knows this area like I do.”)

Withdrawing: Trying to remove frustration or uncomfortable feelings by psychologically leaving the group, or by physical departure in rare cases. (Symptoms may be such things as doodling, leaning back in the chair, and staring into the wall and of course, hiding behind technology by texting, emailing or surfing during the meeting.)

Pairing: Seeking out one or two supporters and forming a subgroup; protecting and supporting one another. (Such as: communicating in whispers while the “opponent” is talking; building coalitions by texting during the meeting.)

What self-defeating behaviors have you exhibited?  Which are the norm in your organization?  Are there things you would do differently in the future?


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