Here’s a few things I’ve heard lately:
“They made me do it!”
“They forced me to respond the way that I did.”
“It’s all their fault, they backed me into a corner. What choice did I have?”
“If they didn’t say that, I wouldn’t have had to respond in the way I did.”
Notice something in common here? We’re all guilty of it, I had some of the same thoughts just the other day. We shift the blame, we skirt the real issue, we never contribute to the problem. The other person’s actions are always unreasonable and it is because of them that we reacted in the way that we did. It’s their fault.
There’s a reasonable reason for unreasonable behaviour
When I was doing my conflict management training, a teacher of mine constantly said this. At first I thought, “that’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard! Of course they are being unreasonable and I highly doubt that there is a reasonable reason for them being so ridiculous! They are just being a(n) ___________.”
It’s a Reaction Cycle
When you’re dealing with people that you think are being unreasonable you will commonly fall into the reaction cycle. You’ll stop listening and start trying to pick apart what they are saying while they are saying it. You’ll become unreasonable…if you let them.
It Starts With You
It seems unreasonable to say it doesn’t it, but it’s true. Only you can control your own behaviour and that includes how you react, perceive and respond to the comments in front of you. Doesn’t sound fair does it? Here’s the problem and it lies within blame.
This past week I attended the Global Leadership Summit and finally got to hear one of my favourite people, Brene Brown, speak (outside of her awesome Ted Talks!). In her talk she defined blame as “the simple discharging of pain and discomfort.” Blame is something that we project on others, something that we just need to “get off our chest,” something that doesn’t help us when we’re dealing with people.
Instead of blaming others, what would happen if we took responsibility? What would happen if we asked the other person what they take responsibility for? What would happen if we shifted our judgement into curiosity and started exploring the reasonable reasons behind the person’s unreasonable behaviour?