Responsibility can be difficult to embrace. It means the buck stops with you whether you’re at fault or not. Delegating isn’t an option. You’re the one who has to make a decision or do something to create forward movement. If you’ve been handed a mess, you have to clean it up. It may not even be your own mess, but when you’re responsible, it’s yours to resolve.

Why would anyone want to take responsibility for something they didn’t create? Or clean up someone else’s mess? Shouldn’t the person at fault clean up their own mess? 

Not if you want swift resolution.

If you want to solve a problem, you must leave all blame behind. It sounds illogical, but it’s actually the most effective way to problem solve. To understand more, let’s look at how and why blame gets in the way.

Blame prevents resolution

Have you ever been yelled at by a boss, a teacher, or a parent? Have you noticed that no matter how bad your punishment was – whether you got suspended, grounded, or fired – the problem didn’t get solved? Admitting you were wrong didn’t resolve anything, either; it just made the other person feel good for making you feel bad.

How can any problem be resolved when everyone’s emotionally upset? By the way, what was the problem in the first place? With all the blame flying around, it’s hard to know.

Blame gets in the way of resolution because they’re mutually exclusive and serve opposing purposes. The compulsion to blame is self-serving while creating resolution serves only the solution. The clear frame of mind required for resolution is entirely destroyed by blame.

Hold someone to account instead of blaming them

Holding someone to account is different than blaming them. When you hold someone to account, you’re pointing out the facts, devoid of any emotional involvement. 

For instance, if your friend didn’t call you back, you would hold them to account by letting them know they didn’t call you back when they said they would. Then, you’d ask them to recommit to another time. This creates the space for a smooth resolution.

Blaming them would look much different. Blame would be making them wrong for not calling you back, which would lead to an argument. You’d both get emotionally upset and resent would taint your future conversation. That’s not resolution.

Accountability leaves out emotion

Accountability is simply accounting for what happened based on the facts. If you show up late to work, your boss might hold you to account by saying, “you’re late!” Being accountable means saying to your boss, “Yes, I’m late,” accepting the consequences, and continuing with your day.

Telling your boss a story about how there was an accident on the freeway, or you couldn’t get your kids to put on their shoes might be the truth, but telling that story is an attempt to escape responsibility. It’s an attempt to justify your lateness. Nothing you can say will change the fact that you’re late; if you’re late, just be late. 

Embrace the idea of shared responsibility without blame

Sometimes multiple people influence an undesirable outcome, in which case, shared responsibility is in order. For instance, if you’re involved in a car accident, there could be more than one driver legally responsible for causing the accident. 

Even though you can understand how your sudden stop contributed to someone hitting you from behind, that driver should still be held accountable for driving too close to your car. Allow them to be responsible for their mistake. Especially if it means getting all of your damages covered. 

Experts at the Joye Law Firm share, “In some cases, more than one party contributed to a car accident or other personal injury accident. Identifying multiple potentially liable parties can increase the amount of insurance compensation available to cover your losses.”

There might be an appropriate time to overlook someone’s error in judgment, but not when that error led to property damage or personal injury. 

Choosing resolution eliminates the need to blame

In any situation, when resolution is what you ultimately want, you have to forget about blame. You have to cut right to the center, find out where the breakdown was, and create a new plan. This requires moving past the ego and the need to be right. You won’t get to point fingers, but you will get a faster, more efficient resolution.

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