When something goes awry we all have a tendency to seek out and place blame. Especially when a relationship problem arises.
But, is blame a skillful means to remedy the situation?
I constantly see people embroiled in it, I’ve been embroiled in it myself. We all have the tendency to blame. Unfortunately, blame is usually what perpetuates and exacerbates the problem, at least in my own experience.
And, it’s not too difficult to understand why blame is counterproductive. Take a minute and think about what happens when blame is placed. Say for example two family members are at odds. Imagine you are one of these people.
How do you feel when you are blamed for a problem? How do you feel when you didn’t cause the problem and yet are still accused? How do you feel when you did cause the problem? Chances are in either situation when the finger falls on you, you’re not going to feel positive emotions. Instead, anger is much more likely.
When is the last time you heard someone blamed say “wow yes, you are right, it is my fault, let me get to work fixing this problem?”
So, if you’re more likely to feel angry, or whatever emotions you identified, is it much of a leap to imagine that any other person would likely feel the same way if the finger is pointed in their direction?
It’s simple to see that blame is just a waste of time, in fact it probably only makes things worse.
Knowing this, we should all be mindful of what we say and do in the midst of conflict, lest we unknowingly place blame. Here are a few tips to avoid blame and get to the bottom of conflict:
- Watch what you’re about to say. If you can become aware of the type of language that imbues shame, you can phrase things in a much more productive manner. Don’t expect to become aware overnight, but if you do notice at least after you’ve said blameful things, you can eventually learn to catch yourself before you say them.
- Focus on correcting the problem first. Perform a problem analysis. Look at what has changed. Figure out when it changed. And see if you can determine what has led to the deviation that you would like to fix. Then, ask yourself, and others that are involved: what can be done to correct for the deviation?
- Be optimistic. You know things will blow over in a week, or in some short duration, think about that future time and how you’ll no longer be aware of what is so emotionally salient in the present. Think about bringing that future mindset to the present. Kind of like when you’re sick with a cold, you know in a few days, the cold will be the last thing on your mind.
- If you’re worried about a repeat problem, instead of blame, ask how everyone can work together to be accountable to avoiding a repeat of the problem in the future.
So, now you’ve been forewarned, finding blame isn’t productive. If you go about placing blame in the future, and it blows up the situation, you have nobody to blame but yourself.