An old expression goes, “it's amazing what you can accomplish when you don't care who gets the credit."
I like that line; however, I have learned that perhaps its sister line is equally as accurate. The idea that "it's amazing what you can overcome when you don't have to hold the blame" would also be truthful.
I'll give you an example. I was on a call yesterday trying to resolve some custom software issues, and the team I was working with took five or so minutes to explain why the problems we were having were not that person's fault.
After the third person went down that road and the fourth started, I interrupted him and said, “Hey guys, I am going to say this is my fault for not communicating the needs of this project better; let's focus on how we move from here."
It took us literally three more minutes to have two possible solutions to test this week. The call was about 30 min, and at least 20 of it was them explaining why it wasn't their fault where we were. It didn't matter to me if I took the blame. It mattered that we got the issues resolved.
I have also seen this work well when working with children. I will tell my kids when they get emotional about an issue I didn't explain well. Then I will ask what they heard and how we can get where we want to go, and it has calmed them down and allowed them to become part of the solution. I am not telling you that you should take more blame when you do not deserve it.
However, sometimes taking the blame off others will be your best and fastest path to resolution. If someone feels the blame is on them, they get defensive. They can focus on solutions if they know the blame is not on them.
This technique has helped me quite a bit. Hopefully, it can help you as well.
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Dr. Matt Chalmers
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