Posted by: chrismaser | November 13, 2010


To be defensive means to protect that which already is, to resist a new view, to resist the possibility of change, and to resist the truth about myself. Defensiveness is a limitation to my growth in that I’m arguing for my old self rather than taking a new look and embracing a new possibility. I’m defending the rut in which my old belief, my old behavioral pattern is stuck. I become defensive because at some level I know that what is being said is at least partly true. And I’m afraid to listen to the truth, because I’ll have to act on it, which means I’ll have to change my stance, something I’m afraid to do. I thus feel obliged to defend my old groove. After all, it’s like home. It’s a comfortable, known entity.

Defensiveness is a coping mechanism that comes rapidly to the fore when we feel unsafe, when we’re losing control of a circumstance. It not only robs an individual of dignity but also isolates the individual from peers and fellow workers. Defensiveness creates a sense of distrust that can spread like an epidemic throughout an organization.


Series on Resistance to Change:

• Our Institutionalized Resistance To Change

• My Introduction To An Agency

• The Inception Of An Agency

• Stages In The Cycle Of An Agency

• When Dysfunction/Malfunction Creeps In

• Homeostatic Defense

• Coping Mechanisms

• Coping Mechanisms: Anger And Aggression

• Coping Mechanisms: Appraisal

• Coping Mechanisms: Denial

• Coping Mechanisms: Displacement

• Coping Mechanisms: Filters

• Coping Mechanisms: Projection

• Coping Mechanisms: Rationalization

• Coping Mechanisms: Repression

• Coping Mechanisms: Resistance

• Breaking The Dysfunctional Cycle

• From Where I Stand

Text © by Chris Maser 2010. All rights reserved.

Protected by Copyscape Web Copyright Protection

This article is excerpted from my 1994 book, Sustainable Forestry: Philosophy, Science, and Economics. St. Lucie Press, Boca Raton, FL. 373 pp. It is updated in my 2012 book, Decision Making For A Sustainable Environment: A Systemic Approach. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL. If you want more information about this book, want to purchase it, or want to contact me—visit my website.

If you wish, you can also read an article about what is important to me and/or you can listen to me give a presentation.


  1. I am really impressed with your writing skills and also with the
    layout on your blog. Is this a paid theme or did you modify it yourself?
    Either way keep up the nice quality writing, it’s rare to see a nice blog like this one
    these days.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: