During a conversation with friends at dinner last night, we were talking about taking responsibility for our own actions. I mentioned someone I know well that is often blaming another person for any and every little bad thing that happens – even though they are the one that created the situation in the first place. It’s a trap that is easy for any of us to fall in. If I blame the other person, it removes any responsibility I have to fix it. Over. Done. Not my problem. I can go on without any worries and continue to think everything is the other person’s fault.
When we witness that behavior, it’s difficult to point it out in a way that allows the person to become receptive and not defensive. If we can deliver that message with compassion and clarity, it helps everyone. Better yet, if we can get good at recognizing it in ourselves, then we influence our own interactions in a very powerful way. Sometimes (ok, often), I blame Grace for not listening to me or not being smart enough because I’ve told her a million times not to bark every time the UPS truck pulls in, or for being stubborn when she won’t come when I call her. You get the picture. It’s her fault.
So I work to avoid that natural inclination to walk away from the responsibility. It takes two to communicate, so I try to continually ask the question: “What was my role in that interaction?” “What can I change that will make the outcome the way I intended?”
When we can ask those questions – consistently and with a truly open mind to receive an honest answer – then we move from a victim to problem-solver.