When it gets in the way of work, who hasn’t blamed technology?
Last week, on a conference call with a colleague, I did this very thing. I felt frustrated and stressed by a technical issue that was stopping me from delivering work to meet a deadline. Expressing those feelings to the person nominally responsible for the IT, I put the blame squarely on ‘her’ inadequate technology.
Inevitably, my colleague took my upset personally – and soon became defensive. Just as inevitably, the conversation got heated and we both ended up feeling more frustrated and stressed.
The problem only grew in size and impact.
Blame (verb): to feel or declare that someone, or something, is responsible for a fault or wrong.
The blame game is so common in workplace environments. When we’re stressed out and anxious, when we just need an issue resolved quickly, it’s much more likely we’ll fall into finger-pointing tactics. It’s just one unconscious way that we try to avoid taking responsibility for tackling difficult challenges.
It doesn’t necessarily mean we are bad people either. Plus blaming something – be it dodgy technology or a bad product – at least isn’t as personal as blaming someone for our problems.
But, whatever the circumstances, resorting to blame in the workplace never ends well for anyone. Blame damages our relationships. It closes down our options. Ultimately blame blocks learning and growth.
Organisation and Relationship Systems Coaching (ORSC) teaches us some great antidotes to the blame game. One really useful tool is curiosity.
What if I had paused on that heated conference call, stepped out of my own agenda, and for a moment really listened to what my colleague was saying?
What if I had cultivated curiosity about the real causes?
And from that place adjusted my thinking, to ask myself: How might I have contributed to this problem? What could I learn from this situation? How might we, together, solve this issue?
It is that momentary pause, and taking a conscious position of curiosity, that can take everyone in a different, much more productive direction.
If I’d been more mindful of my ORSC training on that call, we might have resolved things in a matter of minutes, instead of the issue taking up a week of our time and generating far too many emails!
Could you resort less to blame in the workplace?
If you’d like to acquire the skills and tools to be more conscious and intentional at work, join us for the next ORS@work training course, on 26th and 27th April.