“Denial by definition is a psychological defence system by which people protect themselves from things that threaten them or make them feel uncomfortable. People do this by refusing to acknowledge the awkward person, thing or event, or by attacking any allegation of the existence of such difficulties”.
I came across this detailed definition of “DENIAL” and some analysis into day to day life and work, I realize that almost all of us are more or less inflicted by “DENIAL”. Most of the people do not take “CRITICISM” in a normal manner. The first reaction to a single bit of “CRITICISM” is to go into a state of “DENIAL”. And as rightly said in the beginning, the reactions vary from refusing the allegations to attacking the critic in a variety of different manners. The former is the approach taken by most people wherein the “CRITICISM” has arrived from superiors or co-workers. The later approach of attacking the critic generally happens when the “CRITICISM” comes from a critic who is at a position lower then the person being criticized.
Today in this global world software market, there are instances where a person from a company is sent to a client’s site for work. Lets take an example. Suppose person P works for Company A. Company A has got a project (probably the same one or another one) ongoing on a site S from a Company B. Now the person P is working with the customers directly (i.e. people from Company B on Site S). Customers are very particular about deliveries from Company A.
This is where the “DILEMMA” jumps in. If something is wrong with the deliveries from Company A, then the customers will come and directly contact person P. They believe in P and P also knows the truth that something is wrong with the delivery. In this case, what would P do? Simply speaking he has 3 options:
1. Reject the truth and say nothing is wrong with the deliveries.
2. Partially accept that something is wrong with the deliveries and that to is because of a third unconnected factor. It can be anyting varying from IRAQ War to a fight with your wife or your neighbours’ wife 😀 to wearing the wrong pants. In other words, give out stupid excuses for the wrong things with the deliveries.
3. Accept the truth and boldly say that something is wrong with the deliveries and propose steps for improvement so that the same mistakes will not happen again.
Any good company/person ideally should follow the 3rd (third) approach. If that be the case, then the customer has more reasons to believe in your work and deliveries and it will definitely in the long term increase the business exchange between the client and customer. This approach is known as “Constructive Criticism” which if followed properly can generally reduce frustration, make the work environment more lively and enjoyable, improve the working culture by setting a policy, improve trust and reduce communication errors.
But as everything good fails in this age of “KALI” (Kaliyuga, thats a different story which I will take up in my blog sometime later), the first reaction to anything like that would be No.1 and then laterly No.2. The 2nd (second) approach is generally taken after making sure that the customers cannot be fooled in the matter. Otherwise it is generally approach number 1 (one). I will in some other blog also show you the general tactics used in order to use approach 1 and 2. But this blog discusses in detail another issue known as “DENIAL” which would be explained pretty good when the approach 3 is followed.
So, coming back to the example, lets say person P follows the 3rd approach and accepts the mistake done by his company (Company A) and gives a critic feedback to his company (Company A). If the manager is pretty good and moral, he will take the critic feedback positively and will try to improve. But thats an ideal world and will not have any fun part ;). So we take a manager M (I would call him AHM, AssHole Manager), whose first reaction is always “DENIAL”. Believe me 90% of managers come in this category. Its not by chance that Managers and Damagers rhythm so very good :D.
Back to example, now AHM will go to P and deny the existence of problem. But P is a very capable guy and shows AHM the mistakes in the deliveries (either pointed out by customers Company B, or if he is proactive then by himself). Hence the AHM now shifts to the 2nd approach. Everything is fine with the 2nd approach except for the unconnected factor. Because we are a bunch of nerds (who are generally termed as intelligent guys), the AHM will definitely not link it to IRAQ War :D.
Because person P is not in a position of AHM (atleast not in a position to say anything against AHM), AHM in his state of “DENIAL”, will take the approach of attacking the critic (refer the 2nd para of this post). In this case, AHM can come out and say all sorts of things about P, right from P being critical of the company he is working for upto P carrying out his own personal agenda of undermining company A. P is in a soup because if he tries to do something right, Company A kicks his “ASS”, if he tries to do it otherwise Company B kicks his “ASS”.
Both the cases directly affects P in a variety of ways ranging from emtional and mental demeanour to professional and sentimental weakness. The obvious question is that is there a way out for P? If P has any moral values, the answer is NO. And as AHM is an exact opposite of P, P can’t have a sound working environment. The easiest and finest solution available is to leave the Company A.
Many of you reading this post has experienced this kind of situation and I would like if you all elaborate on this issue. There is one more post I came across which cited the reasons an individual jumps companies. That would be my next topic as well :). Till then keep writing your comments and your experiences, your solutions and how you approached similar situations. It would be a great learning ahead.