My young daughter is going through a frustrating blame phase. Everything she does or what happens around her is someone else’s fault. She trips over her own feet – “It’s your fault”. She drops something – “It’s your fault”. Those words pop out of her mouth without hesitation and without thinking. She gets cross, she upsets herself and those around her and it’s puts us all on edge!
It’s a phase I hope she grows out of soon but I know that removing a default to blame is tough and many mature and intelligent people struggle with this too when they make a mistake or get scared.
Falling into the blame game creates negative emotions and puts you on the defence. Laying the blame for mistakes at the feet of others tends to leave everyone stuck, out of ‘flow’ and points energy in the wrong direction. Blame effects personal performance and leaves marks on how people view you and how they will react to you. Blame is a pain for everyone involved and is never conducive to strong performance and effectiveness.
So why do we blame?
Truth is we use blame as an excuse not to focus on the bigger picture problems and to ignore our own shortcomings.
When we blame we are often protecting ourselves from losing face or showing our own weaknesses. Blame is often the result when our own anxiety and apprehension rises to the surface.
When we blame we jump to conclusions, we only look at one aspect of a problem and this way we never seek to correct but just to move past it or brush aside.
When we blame we allow negative thoughts to control our behaviour.
We often blame when we don’t understand and we often blame if others around us tend to do the same. If we have a tendency to blame it’s often rooted in previous experience and our embedded beliefs. I’ve seen blame too often feed blame. I believe blame is very much a reflection in workplaces of lack of respect and unity in teams, as well as lack of personal confidence and resilience. Blame feeds off power rather than empowerment and it all too often festers under the surface for too long before being acknowledged and tackled.
The long and the short of it is blame is bad and does no one any good if it is ignored, just accepted and not tackled. ‘Blame is lame as we say in my house’.
So how can we tackle the blame game?
My recommended starting point is a quick exercise of looking in the mirror and asking yourself whether blame is one of your own shortcomings? The next thing is to ask yourself is blaming someone else moving you closer to what you want and towards success?
Accepting and acknowledging a shortcoming puts us on the path to correction. Understanding that blaming people does not move us forward towards our vision of success takes us in the right direction.
I work with clients to embrace self-leadership as a means of inspiring and influencing oneself to say no to blame and other negative thought patterns.
Self-leaders know that they must take responsibility and ownership for their actions and acknowledge their part in the mistake and the challenges others are experiencing.
Self-leaders know that correcting anything within their team and the wider organisation starts with their own self-awareness and ability to direct themselves.
Self-leaders understand and correct the bigger picture even if it means showcasing and focusing on their own shortcomings.
Self-leaders know how to convert negative thoughts and beliefs into positive thoughts knowing that negativity limits and positivity empowers.
Self-leaders know that empathy and understanding is important for growth and they know that blame plays no part in building momentum and action necessary to get results.
Self-leaders know mistakes happen, embrace the learnings and move on quickly.
Embracing maturity, self-awareness, responsibility, ownership, unity, empathy, respect and learning is key to eliminating blame and to prevent people from jumping to finger pointing, negativity and poor performance. If you are looking to address blame, then teaching and coaching people around self-leadership thinking and behaviour is a very effective place to start.
Lead yourself to success.