I used to work for an attorney who I’ll call “Leonard the Lunatic.” I must confess, I learned a lot from him, not the least of which was to love the Oxford comma. But I digress.
Leonard the Lunatic was very quick to blame anyone and everyone. And one of the things he taught me, although not on purpose, was to look for the repair rather than the fault. I’ve subscribed to the theory that how to fix what went wrong, and how to prevent the mistake from repeating, was far more important than figuring out who to blame. I think I’ve now become hyper-conscious of noticing others who are quicker to assess blame than to either own the responsibility or offer a solution.
Here are a couple of my favorites:
- The bank bounced my check — no, actually you wrote the check without having sufficient funds. (Of course, not many of us still write checks so that one may be obsolete.)
- You made me late — no, actually you chose to ignore the time.
Once you’ve become aware of the concept, I’m sure you could come up with many other examples of knee-jerk blame. So now I wonder what it would look like if we took some responsibility for ourselves instead of blaming others? What if we paused for a moment or two to figure out a possible solution instead?
Proactive versus reactive. What a concept! It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about mass shootings, devastating fires, or immigration. It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about increased adult onset diabetes, or increased diagnoses of depression or anxiety. I’m not saying that looking for a cause isn’t important, but it shouldn’t stop there. Once the broken thing has been identified, wouldn’t we be better served in looking for how to repair it? And then, in a perfect world, how to prevent it? Leonard the Lunatic’s diatribe about whose fault it is would certainly become irrelevant.
Hopefully, those of you who read this are already what I’d like to call enlightened. You’ve stepped beyond the realm of fault and are forward-thinking enough to look for solutions. I also think those of us so enlightened are attuned to noticing the blame factor in others. Should we point it out to them? I think it’s easy enough to do without sounding either bitchy or self-righteous. Simply ask the blamer what he or she would suggest to fix what they’re talking about. You might have to do this more than once to get your point across, but why not share your own enlightenment?
For example, when your perpetually late friend is once again the last one to arrive at the restaurant, offering the tired excuse of “traffic,” think about this response: “Mary, you know you’re always late because of traffic. What would you be willing to do to be on time in the future? If Mary chooses her own method of repair, it’s more likely to succeed than if you simply told her what she needs to do.