It seems we’re all programmed to do the blame game. Someone screws up, we heap on the blame. All it does is embitter a relationship. Whatever relief the blamer gets from this is matched by the bitterness and guilt the ‘blam-ee’ will feel.
Remember the last time you chewed out someone? Or you were on the receiving end? You must know the feeling. I do. We all do. What is it that drives us to want to make the other person feel bad? So they’ll suffer? To avenge our being wronged? To balance the score? I can’t answer that. But I have an alternative to the blame game.
There IS a way to communicate our disappointment without flinging arrows at the other person. Another way to register our upset without imposing pain.
I suggest that when you are about to lay into someone for whatever transgression he or she may have caused, try saying: “The next time this happens, let’s __________________.” If a colleague has messed up, frame your response in terms of “the next time you do something, consider this alternative instead.”
Sure, this may not work for major issues, where someone has willingly hurt another or committed a crime. But it can work magic in most cases where we feel wronged.
The other person may feel bad because of what she or he may have done, but not for what you’ve said. Your relationship will likely not deteriorate. The other person will probably breathe a sigh of relief, thank you (silently) for not chewing him or her out, and appreciate getting a second chance.
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