If you didn’t rush me, I would have submitted a better report.
If you spoke to me with more respect, I would make more of an effort.
If you reminded me that the meeting time had changed, then I would have been on time.
You’re the one that made me angry.
They all seem reasonable comments for many. Yet they are all statements that reflect someone else being the issue. They don’t take responsibility for themselves or their actions. My dog ate my homework kinda stuff.
Blamers hold other people responsible for their pain and/or frustrations. When it is someone else’s fault for how you feel then you do not need to own anything.
A blamer expects that other people should change to suit them. They need others to change as their own happiness and satisfaction depends on this. Some blamers think that if they cajole or pressure people enough they will change to suit their thinking. Some Blamers just blame in silence. Either way, it’s not their fault.
This type of thinking means they are stuck in the ‘blame trap’. This trap does not allow people to see their contribution to the situation or at least the fact that they can own how they are reacting. After all, no one makes you angry. You chose to be angry.
Getting stuck in blame is like drinking a bottle of poison in the hope it will kill your enemies. It’s a toxic behaviour that damages relationships and productivity in the workplace.
Carl Alasko, the author of ‘Beyond Blame’ says we use blame in two ways. Firstly, we ‘find fault with another person or group’ and we ‘transfer responsibility onto someone else’, both by using criticism, accusation, punishment, and humiliation. We then use these behaviors to;
- Change someone’s behavior
- Vent a feeling
- Escape personal responsibility and
- Protect ourselves
Alasko says that it has been empirically proven that positive work environments, absent of blame, increase productivity and there is a mistaken belief that work is a zero-sum game, that is, if you win, I lose. By aiming towards the absence of blame and correcting the win/loss attitude, work becomes both more pleasant and more efficient. That just makes sense right?!
Interestingly but not surprising, the largest chapter in his book is about marriage. He says that ‘blame thrives in environments where commitment and obligation are crucial’. So without ownership then little resolution will occur.
Perhaps we could start by considering the sage advice from the Dalai Lama;
“It is far more useful to be aware of a single shortcoming in ourselves that it is to be aware of a thousand in somebody else”.
To learn more of the thinking traps we can fall into read the blog on the ‘Board of Directors that live in our head’.