The Blame Boomerang: How to Send Blame Back Where It Belongs

I recently had the pleasure of watching Brene Brown’s hilarious video, “Hi, I’m Brene and I’m a Blamer,” on YouTube. With close to 840,000 views, it’s clear Brown has struck a chord.

Her point, which she makes far better than I – did I mention she’s funny?—is that it’s far easier to blame others than to be accountable for our own feelings, thoughts, or actions.

This is true. (Have I mentioned, “Hi, I’m Frances and I’m a blamer?”) 

One thing Brown doesn’t address is her husband’s tactic of hanging up the telephone before the blame begins.While it’s obvious this works within the context of their relationship, it’s not a strategy the rest of us are likely to be able to use if we’re not at fault.**

So what do I recommend you do —and not do— when you feel blame is being unfairly apportioned to you?

1. Do allow the speaker the time/space to blow off steam:

Like Ms. Brown, many of us blame to blow off steam—knowing on some level that we’re behaving irrationally. With this in mind (and I’m not saying it’s easy), give the person a moment or two to say their piece and then, hopefully, correct their course. If that doesn’t work:

2. Don’t say, “Don’t blame me…” 

Like “I told you so,” the phrase “Don’t blame me…” is rarely (read: never) useful. If, after giving the blamer a moment, he or she still seems to think it is your fault, saying, “Don’t blame me” is only going to exacerbate the crazy. So it looks like you’re going to have to be the bigger person and:

3. Acknowledge their frustration/focus on a solution:

 While it’s not easy, the fastest way to move things along is to abandon the need to be right/maintain your innocence and instead say, “I’m sorry this happened.” The beauty of this phrase is that a) You aren’t accepting the blame and b) it’s true! You are likely to be sorry it happened, particularly if you’re being unfairly blamed. If you are inclined —or it’s your job— to put your shoulder to the wheel, “What can I do to help?” sends blame to the corner (where it belongs) so problem solving can begin.

**Please note: if you have, in fact, made a mistake, my request is that you own up to it immediately. That said; please do not use the phrase, “My bad…” ever.

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