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How to Handle the Porcupine: Effective Leadership Communication Strategies

Updated: Aug 21, 2023

A porcupine refers to a person who can easily erupt and spike their quills. They do not like surprises. They may want to block you from direct communication with their team. They may speak for their team and become very defensive when asked about their processes and performance. At the core of the porcupine is a deep desire to succeed. They often have a warrior mindset and believe they are in a battle. They do not understand how they come off and how scary they are to their peers. Here are some ways to help the dear porcupine.

Effective Leadership Communication Strategies

WHAT CAN YOU DO with a porcupine personality?

1. Choose the Right Moment

2. Use Non-Judgmental Language

3. Provide Specific Examples

4. Highlight the Impact

5. Ask Open-Ended Questions

6. Offer Supportive Feedback


1. Recommend Resources

2. Be Patient and Empathetic

3. Set an Example

4. Do a 360 Assessment or Encourage Feedback from Others

5. Recognize Progress

6. Consider Professional Help


"I've noticed that during our discussions, there's a lot of back-and-forth, and I'd like to find a way to communicate more effectively together."

"I feel like our conversations sometimes turn into a debate, and I'd love to have more open and constructive discussions where we truly listen to each other's perspectives."

"I've noticed that when certain topics come up, the conversation can become tense, and I'd like to find a way to approach these discussions with more understanding "

"It seems like there's a pattern of defensiveness in our interactions, and I'm wondering if we can work on creating a more supportive and collaborative environment."

"When I share my thoughts, I sometimes feel like they're met with resistance. I believe we can achieve better outcomes if we approach our conversations with more receptivity."

"I value your insights, but I feel like our conversations become confrontational at times. Let's work together to improve our communication dynamics."

"I've noticed that when disagreements arise, we tend to focus on defending our positions rather than seeking common ground. How can we find a more balanced approach?"

"I'd appreciate it if we could have more open conversations where we don't feel the need to attack each other's viewpoints but instead explore them with curiosity."

"I believe we both have valuable perspectives to bring to the table. Let's try to actively listen to each other without interrupting and see how we can build on each other's ideas."

"I think we could benefit from being more mindful of our tone and language during discussions to avoid coming across as defensive or aggressive."

In summary, porcupines can be deadly for office culture and collaboration. Take care of those porcupines to keep your organization healthy.

by Stephanie Bickel


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