Over the years, I’ve discovered that there are two types of people when it comes to the issue of accountability.
The first is the accountable person. This is the person who is self aware and understands his or her role and responsibility in a problem situation. The accountable person is someone who learns and grows from every mistake and is less likely to make the same mistakes again.
The second is the blamer. This is the person who always has an excuse, explanation, or scapegoat upon which they can dump responsibility. This person is the one who is most frustrating for me because he or she never benefits from learning from mistakes and is destined to make the same ones over and over again.
- an employer who repeatedly loses great employees
- an employee who is repeatedly “let go”
- a politician who runs for office repeatedly and never gets elected
What’s the common denominator here? (Or should I say “who?”)
In order to learn, grow, and move forward in life, it’s critical that we identify and take responsibility for our actions and even in-actions. The sooner we say
“I am responsible.”
“You’re right, I made a mistake.”
the more likely we are to identify the true source of the problem and begin taking steps to fix it.
The following “red flag” statements may indicate you’re attempting to avoid responsibility, deflect blame, or worst of all, reverse blame onto someone else.
When you feel the urge to say them, stop and think, “What’s my responsibility?” or “What part of this situation can I own?”
1. “You shouldn’t have asked me to do it in the first place.”
Then why did you accept the responsibility for the task? Perhaps you should have refused it.
2. “You didn’t give me enough time.”
Then why didn’t you negotiate a different deadline BEFORE you missed the one you agreed to?
3. “You didn’t give me enough information.”
Then why didn’t you ask for more when you were given the task?
4. “Well, I suppose you never made a mistake.”
Whether someone else has made a mistake isn’t the issue. The issue is yours- address it.
5. “Oh yeah, well you’re__________.”
Whatever someone else may be, as in #4 above, it’s not relevant now. If you had a problem with that person prior to this conversation, you probably had ample opportunity to bring it up before this moment. Now is not the time.
6. “What about (fill in person’s name)? Why don’t you ever say something to him/her?”
Turning the conversation to another person, especially someone who is not part of the conversation, is just another deflecting technique like #4 and #5 above. If you have a beef with someone else, take it to him or her.
7. “You never liked me.”
When all else fails, turning the conversation away from behavior to the other person’s feelings about you is a classic technique for redirecting the conversation. How the other person feels about you CAN be addressed if they’re relevant, but only after addressing the concern that person originally brought to your attention.
Can you think of any more blaming phrases? Let me know!