Makarios Consulting Blog

Analysis Paralysis: How Insecurity Hampers Productivity

Have you ever worked for an organization whose culture is burdened by “analysis paralysis”? Where every task is met with requests for additional research to justify the initiative to someone further up the chain?  Deadlines are missed, discussions are circular, and productivity grinds to a halt. The culprit just might be the HeadTrash of Insecurity.

Insecurity is one of the hardest types of HeadTrash to identify. It can manifest in many different ways, and is easily confused with the other varieties of HeadTrash. For example, when one mixes Anger with Insecurity, it results in a passive-aggressive response that can be confusing and frustrating for both parties. Sometimes Insecurity will cause someone to express their Anger about one topic when they’re actually angry about something completely different, which leads to miscommunication.

Insecurity in a leader can result in resentful and irritated subordinates. Insecure managers often fail to praise subordinates. Always needing to be reassured, the insecure leader will claim credit on behalf of the entire staff because he or she lacks confidence in their own abilities.

And forget criticism — even of the constructive variety.  Insecure people don’t take criticism well. Constructive criticism offered as a way to encourage improvement is seen as an attack that says, “You’re not performing well enough.” Instead of taking good advice to heart, the insecure person feels inadequate and gets defensive when any type of critical comment is made.

Remember: Before offering constructive advice, start with a positive comment that will give a little boost to the person’s self-esteem. Hearing something positive can help soften the blow of a critique.

Message Delivery. How you deliver the message is just as important as what you’re saying. Using soothing tones and a slow cadence can help calm the insecure person because the tone of the conversation is not taken as an attack. The slightest raise of voice volume could set off the defense mechanism of Insecurity, so it’s important to be aware of how you deliver the message.

Communication. How you communicate to an insecure person also is important. In a world where people too often hide behind their screens, it’s easy to avoid a serious conversation with someone by simply sending them an email. Try to have difficult conversations in person so that you can read their reaction and begin a true dialogue with them about the issue at hand.