Blame And Responsibility

One thing I’m finding maddening at the moment is, on the surface, laziness.  This is especially the case in my first story.

I was sending an e-mail to someone at work.  I’m trying to get out of sending e-mails where other forms of communication are far more appropriate, but in this case I wanted something quotable so having it in writing was the best way forward.  I’ll change the names, but the exchange went something like this:

Hi Sandra [I know this person reasonably well so “Hi” feels appropriate],

Please can you provide me with any feedback from [your site] about [this project] as soon as possible?


The response arrived minutes later.

Hi Michael,

Please can you ask Leanne?

To put this in to perspective, “Leanne” sits across the desk from “Sandra”.  Sandra could simply have clicked “Forward” instead of “Reply” and sent my query to Leanne with a message of similar length.  Slightly annoyed, I did click reply, put Leanne in the “To:” list with a message along the lines of:

Hi Leanne,

Please can you help with the query below?


Now, I don’t know whether what happened next was a kind of an apology or kind of a “touché” reply but working with this person makes me think it was kind of genuine.  I got a reply almost instantly from Sandra:

Thanks for forwarding this question.

Whatever the motivation, even if I had been played, I wonder of Sandra reviewed the exchange and thought to herself, “You know what, maybe I could have helped out a bit more there.”

It’s a similar story to other things that have been happening at work that are much more long winded but, to summarise, revolve around someone delegating for the sake of delegating, but taking longer to explain it to the person they are delegating it to than it would take them to do it themselves.  Before some of your say it, this is not “effective delegation” whereby you’re exposing someone with less experience to something they haven’t done before as a learning exercise, it is laziness.

It’s hard always to think of a more justifiable reason.  In some cases I think it’s responsibility and people not wanting to step up, but the issue I have with that is that taking responsibility is not always about taking the blame for something going wrong.

I’d never heard of this a prefix before, but there is a line of thought that the difference between responsibility and blame is ethnocentricity versus egocentricity or the difference between people being together in a situation rather than just on their own.  When someone becomes angry and aims that anger at us, we’re more likely to respond with the thought that person is angry with us, rather than simple angry, period.

Michael J Formica MS, MA, EdM take that line of thinking further by suggesting that emotions are self-generated.

One important factor – and a way to break ourselves of our habit of self-consciousness – is to bear in mind where feelings come from. Your boss doesn’t make you angry – you make you angry. By the same token, you don’t make your boss angry — your boss makes your boss angry. Our feelings — all of our feelings — and those of others are self-generated.

So, when someone comes at you in anger — even if you have done something to intentionally harm or hurt them – their anger is theirs, not yours. You may have provoked it, but you can’t own it because it’s not yours in the first place. If it’s not yours, you can’t reasonably blame yourself, for it. Of course, you can, and should be responsible to it, and that responsibility then breeds accountability, which promotes clear, clean and balanced communication with both ourselves and others.

It’s an interesting line of thought, especially in light of earlier posts in this blog where I’ve mentioned not intending to make someone feel bad about something but getting the reply “well you did”.  It’s interesting, too, to think about it as people not wanting to take responsibility for their own feelings.

What is more interesting to me, though, is that the main feeling I’ve got from everything at work is that it’s not people working together for a greater good but people working to just do their own thing.  That is probably the thing that I find most maddening, even if I now have to accept that they are not to blame for how I feel!


I, I can’t get these memories out of my mind,
And some kind of madness has started to evolve.
And I, I tried so hard to let you go,
But some kind of madness is swallowing me whole, yeah

I have finally seen the light,
And I have finally realized
What you mean.

Ooh oh oh

And now I need to know is this real love,
Or is it just madness keeping us afloat?
And when I look back at all the crazy fights we had,
Like some kind of madness was taking control, yeah

And now I have finally seen the light,
And I have finally realized
What you need.



But now I have finally seen the end (finally seen the end)
And I’m not expecting you to care (expecting you to care)
But I have finally seen the light (finally seen the light)
I have finally realized (realized)
I need your love
I need your love

Come to me
Just in a dream.
Come on and rescue me.
Yes I know, I can’t be wrong,
And baby, you’re too headstrong.
Our love is

Madness by Muse


Leave A Comment?