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Blame Culture

Why is it that people can't admit to making mistakes, but rather want to shift the blame on to someone else even when the responsibility should lie on their, or their company's shoulders?

This came to my mind this morning as I have a handful of particularly frustrating incidents over the past couple of days, with a very famous coffee supply company - one with a 300 year history - making aggressive phone calls for the umpteenth time to chase up late payment of a bill which was paid, in full, within 3 days of them submitting it. Has to be our fault that they screwed up the paperwork, blaming us first for non payment, then the move when that excuse was blown out the water, then having nothing to say when it was pointed out we had already had a similar call after their move, emailed and written to confirm, and they hadn't even been polite enough to reply. Even after 300 years, I am sorely tempted to find a new supplier.

The reason another company hasn't paid our invoices for course run in October is because we hadn't changed the company name on the invoice to them when they took over another company and added three letters to their combined name. That was 2 weeks ago and we have resubmitted with those extra magical letters, but the guy there's not answering emails nor returning calls, so I smell more problems.

And it's particularly frustrating at times to ask xxx "when was yyy last done" and to be told that zzz should have done it, even though it's clearly not been done for quite a while and xxx has signed off on having done it very recently indeed.

I guess that when people feel defensive and insecure, it's the most natural thing in the world for them to look to shift the blame onto others when asked. The immediate problem is that is makes them look all the more silly and gives me (as it would give any customer or business contact) all the more reason to mistrust them and in reality make their position all the more, truly, insecure. Whereas the occasional (or even a bit more than occasional) "oops - sorry about that", with a correction and a feeling that a lesson had been learned, would have turned a negative situation into one that had a positive outcome.

Sadly (and I shouldn't be sad in the run up to Christmas!), I know that I have to take steps as a "relationship manager" at work not to back anyone into a situation where an error must be admitted, but rather to do and ask things in such a way that they can get whatever it is sorted, without taking blame themselves, putting the blame on others ... and hopefully in such a way that the same issue won't occur again and again. And there are things that I know I have to get a little frustrated about, and simply let go.

There's an article on blame culture here ... worth a read. I am not blameless, but neither am I an expert /psychologist and I really wish that I could cut out the crap of all the time the blame culture wastes across the people we deal with and get on with the real job, with joy and efficiently.
(written 2008-12-17)

 
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M300 - Well House Manor - Behind the scenes
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  [2910] Robust - testing the system - (2010-08-09)
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  [1000] One Thousand Posts and still going strong - (2006-12-18)
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  [813] Monday Morning at Well House Consultants Melksham - (2006-07-24)
  [769] King Edward VII - days of empire - (2006-06-20)
  [742] A visit from the solicitor - (2006-06-03)
  [677] Sympathetic development - (2006-04-09)
  [203] Holes in on line information - (2005-02-05)


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This is a page archived from The Horse's Mouth at http://www.wellho.net/horse/ - the diary and writings of Graham Ellis. Every attempt was made to provide current information at the time the page was written, but things do move forward in our business - new software releases, price changes, new techniques. Please check back via our main site for current courses, prices, versions, etc - any mention of a price in "The Horse's Mouth" cannot be taken as an offer to supply at that price.

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