|Are you playing the "blame
game" usually starts and ends in a standoff.
Nobody is moving, nobody is
talking and yet everyone is right...in their own
We see it all the time at work and at
home; with bosses, colleagues, parents and
spouses. It isn't until some time has passed
that you even know that you were participating in a
blame game. However, you can save yourself some
angst if you can recognize the signs of being locked in
a "blame game" while it is happening.
The truth is that when you lock
horns in the game, you aren't able to get the results
you want (unless conflict and angst is your
Someone once said to me "would
you rather be right or get what you
want?" I wanted to say "both," but I
knew that was the wrong answer. It is hard to get
what you want if you always need to be right.
When you are so fixated on being right,
you forget what your broader objective really is;
whether that is to get the job done, get a promotion or
have a long-term, loving relationship.
So here are some tips for recognizing
when you are in a blame game and how to get out of it:
Tip #1: You see only black
and white: You are right, and they are wrong.
I once had a colleague who I
could not stand. Everything he did seemed to rub
me the wrong way. I believed he favored
people and was rude to those that weren't useful to
him. I believed he operated in a way that didn't
enhance the team, but instead created a culture based on
exclusion versus inclusion. I thought he was
more interested in himself above all else. Of course,
the vision I had of myself was exactly the
opposite. I believed I treated others equally and
wanted to enhance the team and to create a culture of
In a nutshell, I could do no
wrong and he could do no right.
However, the truth was
somewhere in the middle and a little bit
grey. He wasn't a perfect leader, but
neither was I.
Once you see that you are engaging
in this black and white thinking, one way to
get out of this "blame game" is to recognize that you
are not as right as you believe yourself to be and your
nemesis is not as wrong as you want to
believe. Redirect some of that judgment to
yourself and start chipping away at your own
self-imposed perfect image.
Recognizing you are both flawed
is a much more powerful starting point to get the
results you are seeking.
Tip #2: You look for
alibis to support your black and white position; you are
right, they are wrong.
Complaining husbands and wives do this
all of the time. They seek out friends to
corroborate with and seek out other examples to trash
their spouse. Colleagues also engage in this
behavior regarding their bosses. Siblings have
been known to gang up against their parents with all the
things they think they do wrong. Oh...and
Democrats and Republicans do it to each
other. It becomes a feeding frenzy with no
real productive outcome.
When you find yourself doing
this; STOP. It only feeds your
need to be right and doesn't get you closer to reaching
Instead, spend your energy
identifying your own shortcomings and work on improving
them. Step into the shoes you are
criticizing and do it better.
Becoming a great parent is the
best way to forgive your own parents'
shortcomings. Becoming a leader is the best way to
forget your worst boss. Becoming a loving spouse
is the only way to bridge and strengthen your
#3: You are not listening.
cut sign of when you are participating in the "blame
game" is that you know you are right and it doesn't
matter what anyone else is saying. In that
moment, you are in the comic strip Charlie Brown and all
you are hearing is "Wahhh, Wahhh, Wahhh."
So, how do you make a move that
helps take the stale mate out of the situation?
Ask a question.
Curiosity is one of the best
antidotes for the game. By asking questions,
you will likely realize that this person is not on such
an opposite side after all. It can allow
you to start seeing the areas of agreement between you,
as opposed to solely focusing on those areas of
for sure about the "blame game" is that if you are
frustrated while being in it, the other person is
too. When you take the first step to try to get
out of this game by following some of these tips,
chances are you will break the standoff and start to get
some movement towards achieving your
all, don't you want to get what you want, even if you
don't have to be right?
Interested in moving your objectives
forward? Contact Laura for some one-on-one customized coaching.
Laura Lopez is an
award-winning author of The
Connected and Committed Leader.
She is also a consultant, and a Birkman Method
certified business and life coach who has been featured
on the Today Show and Fox News.
In addition, her accomplishments have been
highlighted in several business periodicals
including Personal Excellence, The Long Beach
Business Journal, The Houston Chronicle, Latina
Magazine, and Central Valley Business Times. Her
articles on management and leadership are regularly seen
in Leadership Excellence.