Defensiveness and RAJE Behaviors

Sometimes don’t you just want to throw yourself on the floor and have a good tantrum?  Do you ever want to point your finger in frustration and say, “It’s all your fault!”

I know I do, and it takes a great deal of discipline to move past that initial disappointment when things don’t go the way I wanted (or the way someone else wanted).  I recall that Steven Covey taught of the importance of catching oneself in the brief moment between when something happens and how we choose to respond to it.  If we catch that moment we can be response-able.

When we don’t have awareness of that moment, we can fall into what I call RAJE behaviors: rationalizations, apologies, justification, and excuses.

Just this past week I found myself:

  • Rationalizing that the Government sequestering and shut-down was responsible for me not being on track to meet my business goals.
  • Apologizing for being late because traffic was especially bad
  • Justifying not getting something done that I said I would because something else came up.
  • Making an excuse about why I couldn’t go to Pilates

The thing about RAJE is that when I’m disempowering myself, I am not moving toward what I really want.  Being empowered means we accept obstacles and disappointments without making ourselves or others wrong or insecure.  $#!+ happens, and we have to look to the future rather than “shoulding” all over ourselves.

As a coach I am always listening for my client’s empowerment vs. disempowerment.  As a fellow member of the human race, I try to be aware of the moments I get caught thinking of all the reasons “why not” instead of “how will I?”  It is such an interesting dynamic, knowing that you own your own destiny but have no control over what happens outside yourself.  There are external factors that impact our lives, and all we can do is respond to those factors in the best way we know how.

When I feel backed in a corner by another, RAJE may begin to show up in me.  This is a mechanism of defensiveness on my part, and it’s the result of my perception that others are using blame or criticism in a way that feels personal.  It can also happen when I am not able to take personal ownership of a situation because I am internally (sometimes unconsciously) blaming or criticizing myself.  Catching that moment before I respond can be helpful.  In some of my relationships, I can set a strong boundary and let the other person know what I am feeling.  In others, I have to fight the impulse to react in a way that will spiral out of control in an unproductive way.  The most important thing is to build awareness of the disempowerment.

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Deb Siverson is a seasoned executive coach, certified as a PCC through the International Coach Federation. If you want to schedule time to discuss how you or your organization can increase engagement by having a different conversation at work, contact us now.