Defense Mechanisms

Defense mechanisms, in psychology lingo, are strategies we use to “cope with reality.”
George Vaillant has identified a range of mechanisms, spanning from the unhealthy (such as denial and distortion) to mature. When reacting to circumstances at work, do you use these healthy strategies?
Sublimation: transformation of negative emotions into positive actions or behavior
Suppression: the conscious decision to delay paying attention to an emotion or need in order to cope with the present reality
Altruism: putting the needs of others before your own with no expectation of payback
Humor: overt expression of feelings without personal discomfort and without unpleasant effect on others


When employees feel included at work, they exhibit a stronger work ethic and are more innovative.
(This is because when employees feel included they feel a sense of both belongingness and uniqueness – two elements of human fulfillment.)
Managers help employees feel “included” when they:
1) are humble – learn from criticism and admit mistakes
2) empower employees – to learn and develop
3) are courageous – consider greater good over personal gain
4) hold employees responsible for results.

See Catalyst study: catalyst.org/knowledge/inclusive-leadership-view-six-countries.

Rockwell Automation suggests four ways for managers to practice humility:
1) share your mistakes as teachable moments
2) engage in dialogue, not debates
3) embrace uncertainty / admit not having all the answers
4) role model being a “follower” / let others lead.

See HBR article: blogs.hbr.org/2014/05/the-best-leaders-are-humble-leaders.



photo 2

photo 1

credit: Loyola University

In Strong Ethical Cultures


In Strong Ethical Cultures…

Management and supervisors:
*Communicate ethics as a priority
*Set a good example of ethical conduct
*Keep commitments
*Provide information about what is going on
*Support following organizational standards

*Consider ethics in making decisions
*Talk about ethics in the work we do
*Set a good example of ethical conduct
*Support following organizational standards

source: Eighth National Business Ethics Survey (NBES)

1. Mission: a sense of purpose in coming into work
2. Collegiality: working with awesome people
3. Challenging work: being stimulated by the work to be done
4. Meaningful advancement: the promise of growth
5. Confidence in senior leaders: a sense of trust–and transparency–with management
6. Perks: good pay, free food, a beer cart or two

credit: FastCompany

Salesperson duties in accordance with the Golden Rule

1. Warn customers of potential hazards

2. Refrain from lying and deception

3. Fully and honestly answer questions about what they are selling

4. Refrain from steering customers toward purchases they have reason to think will harm the customers (including financially)

– see the complete article by Thomas Carson (whose ethics class I had the privilege of taking)

The 6 Mistakes of Man

1. The delusion that personal gain is made by crushing others.
2. The tendency to worry about things that cannot be changed or corrected.
3. Insisting that a thing is impossible because we cannot accomplish it.
4. Refusing to set aside trivial preferences.
5. Neglecting development and refinement of the mind, and not acquiring the habit of reading and studying.
6. Attempting to compel others to believe and live as we do.
– Cicero, On Old Age