Blame – common currency of the media. Some organizations are rather familiar with the process too, without usually using the word itself.
The thing is…
As an observer, with whom do you usually feel empathy – the person doing the blaming, or the one being blamed? Blaming is an unattractive behavior that distances us from the people around us – the uninvolved onlookers. Their sympathies transfer to the person we are blaming.
Let’s be clear though…
There’s a difference between “blaming” and holding people appropriately and reasonably accountable.
Whereas accountability involves clarity of thought, blaming is an unthinking response…
It’s so tempting to deflect responsibility elsewhere. We can do it in an instant, so easily we don’t even notice we’re doing it.
Sometimes who or what we’re blaming is so distant or inanimate we think we can’t hurt them.
But still we hurt ourselves…
Only yesterday, I nearly wrote in an email “my bank would take a dim view of me letting you have that information,” (making my directness the bank’s fault) instead of just saying: “I know you would do this anyway, but could you please make keep the details I gave you to yourself.”
It’s also tempting to blame the IT. It’s such a universal problem, isn’t it? “We would have got the report to you on time, but we had IT problems.” or “Sorry, we didn’t respond very quickly. The email was down.”
And then, there’s the traffic. Ah the traffic: “Sorry I’m late. The traffic was really bad.” What a handy excuse.
These words comes so easily.
But here’s the thing…
By blaming the IT, the traffic, or whatever, we come across as weak, and a victim of everyday circumstance. We’re so feeble, we can’t overcome routine difficulties.
Much better to take responsibility, even if it maybe doesn’t belong with us. Others respect that. “I’m sorry I’m late. I didn’t allow enough time to get here.” or “The report took us longer than we allowed.”
Or meet expectations in the first place, of course.