[This post is part of a series on overcoming guilt and blame for good. If you don’t see a Table of Contents to the left, click here to view the series, where you’ll get more value than reading just this post.]
One last tip for the guilt and blame series, perhaps the most empowering.
What do you do when others attempt to blame you or make you feel guilty?
Most of us argue back, apologize, or attempt to explain our innocence. Often explaining works if the other person isn’t too angry. Apologizing can work, but what if you didn’t intend to hurt them? Then they may feel erroneously justified in blaming you. Arguing back rarely works and may reinforce their beliefs that you are to blame.
You might instead start by recognizing that they haven’t reached where you are, then take responsibility to improve things anyway. They still see greater value in blaming than in taking responsibility to improve their lives, if they are aware of the option of taking responsibility to improve things at all.
Their point of view is their point of view, not objective truth. Because they believe or accuse you of something doesn’t mean you have to agree with them.
Today’s tactic is to recognize they feel the way they do, but to politely let them know you don’t accept their point of view. You aren’t disagreeing with them or telling them they are wrong. You are just telling them you’ve interpreted the situation differently.
You can then follow up, if you want, by taking responsibility to improve things to the extent you can without accepting or giving blame. If they insist on continuing to blame you, you can offer to return to blaming after you’ve collectively improved things. It never hurts to improve things, so they don’t lose in accepting your help.
After things are improved, they may have second thoughts about blaming you.
This tactic — not to accept or give blame but to improve things anyway — is disarming. To be disarming is a great trait to exhibit when someone is attacking you. They suddenly feel unable to attack. It’s difficult to attack someone offering to help you.
(Here is yesterday’s post, in case this one is the first in the series you came across)
Learn to make Meaningful Connections
with a simple, effective exercise from my book, Leadership Step by Step.
- Step by step instructions
- Video examples of me and Marshall Goldsmith
- An excerpt from my book