Ego defensiveness is self-centred communication. This is more than just being selfish. It is a response pattern in which a person who follows this pattern sees a disagreement as a personal attack. Such a person’s first reaction to criticism would be to counterattack in an attempt to save face and to defend the bruised ego in any way possible.
You need to realize that your own responses are the controlling factor in communication. If they are defensive, they can make you blind to good suggestions, and they can destroy your ability to relate positively to these with whom you work. Some common kinds of ego-defensive communication tactics are;
- Sour Grapes: This tactic involves rationalizing, saying that you did not really want a thing, or downgrading the qualities of something you are unable to achieve.
- Projection: Projection involves accusing others of your own faults.
- Scapegoating: Picking on others and blaming them unjustly are characteristics of this tactic.
All of these ego-defensive mechanisms are normal in the sense that everyone uses them on occasion. Sometimes they may even be necessary, as when others seem unable to communicate with you without using hostile, abusive, or aggressive attacks against you. Some people have poor self-images; so their communication habits are based on these patterns. They feel that they must cut other people down in order to build themselves up. They make communication difficult as best. The key point to remember is that ego-defensive communication never deals with the substance of a discussion, but rather with personalities. Thus, they can all be barriers to good communication.