Blame Game: Pointing Fingers

Whenever plans fall apart, the first thing a lot of us try to do is find someone to blame. Often when a large group of people are involved, there is a lot of finger-pointing that occurs. Though playing the blame game is a natural response, it is the least healthy response. It can foster trust issues and shows a lack of responsibility.

Why Do We Play the Blame Game?

Why are people so quick to point a finger somewhere else when there is an accident or when a plan goes awry? No one wants to be the reason for failure. Our first reaction is often to protect ourselves. And a lot of times the reason for failure may be out of your control. But we always have this fear of being blamed, whether or not we are the reason for failure.

We live and work in a world that typically looks to punish scapegoats. Ideally, failure would be used as a learning experience. In the real world, it is often used as a reason for punishing imperfection. I’m not saying that mistakes should be rewarded, but I do think that they can be invaluable learning opportunities if used correctly. No one can learn from their mistakes if blame is constantly shifted from one person to another.

It’s Not You, It’s Me

A lot of times when breaking off a relationship, people use the line “It’s not you, it’s me” to soften the blow. We use it to keep from hurting the other person’s feelings. And sometimes it is true when you break up with someone who the problem in the relationship has nothing to do with the other person.

There are times though when “It’s not you, it’s me” is used solely to try to spare someone’s feelings when it isn’t true. The fallacy in this is, you’re already hurting their feelings by breaking up with them. You aren’t doing you or them any favors if you aren’t truthful. They deserve to know if the problem does lie with them, especially if you are breaking up with them due to issues like addiction, abuse, or mental instability. Sometimes, the cold hard truth is what they need to motivate them to get help.

Sharing the Blame

The whole group has a hand in success or failure.

Often, when a mistake happens or a plan or project fails, there usually isn’t just one person at fault. Several people can contribute to failure just as several contribute to its success. Realistically, the majority of the time, more than one person is to blame for a problem. The important thing is that everyone involved take responsibility for their own actions and learn from their mistakes.

No One Is to Blame

There are those rare times when no one is to blame. Life happens, Mother Nature proves that she is the ultimate bitch, and Murphy’s Law is still on the books. Sometimes all you can do is face the fact that everything went to Hell in a hand basket and move on.

Taking Responsibility

The most important thing that we can do is act like a responsible adult and recognize when the blame lies on yourself and when events occur through no fault of your own. If you blame everyone else for everything, no one will ever take you seriously because you’re always looking for a scapegoat. If you always accept blame for everything, you’ll be seen as a martyr.

The key is to gracefully accept blame when it truly rests on your shoulders, and to realize when events are out of your control without making unfounded accusations that someone else is responsible for an outcome. The hardest part is to not accept the blame without making excuses or accusations toward others. This is why it is so important to accept responsibility when a mistake is your fault, as this builds trust in your character so that others will have confidence in you when you say that something isn’t your fault.

The most important thing is learning from our mistakes. This is a vital part to how we grow as responsible adults.

Teaser: Next time we’ll take a look at a topic that might be an emotion or a decision.

Wayne Cochran

Database Administrator, writer, social media evangelist, and occasional traveler, Wayne writes whatever comes into his head or touches his heart. His interests vary from IT to matters of the heart to the dream of a future beach life.

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3 Responses

  1. I’m glad you wrote this. I had one of my reps at work last week literally not taking responsibility for anything! They blamed the customers and co-workers, never once taking responsibility. It wasn’t even that big of a deal until the blame shifting started. That was infuriating. I believe in owning actions, learn from our mistakes.

    • Thanks, I am glad whenever my writing strikes a chord with a reader. There are so many times that conflict could be lessened or avoided altogether if people would just take responsibility for their actions.

      • Did you know that confronting this person calmly about it only lead to further finger pointing? I had to giggle and just let it go, no longer worth it.

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