Blame is Power

iStock_000009290000XSmall Responsibility. It’s something many people spend a lot of time avoiding.  Or trying to.

On the other hand, the crux of the message of these times is that we have the power to create – if we accept responsibility for our selves and our lives.

I’ve often thought that the reason managers and executives get paid so much more is simply that they accept a level of responsibility that most refuse to consider.  Maybe that’s why there’s supposed to be a shortage of people to fill those higher level positions.  The willingness to accept what most people call ‘blame’ is a powerful tool – in pointing the finger, they effectively admit they didn’t have control of the situation.  They won’t take any responsibility for it, because they didn’t have any power to affect the result.

If you refuse to shoulder the blame, and try to offload it, you’re giving away the power of responsibility as well.  I’ll happily accept that from anyone.  Feel free to blame me.  I’ll take it up and say thanks for the extra responsibility – and then use it in my next salary negotiation.

Several years ago, I had a job in tele-sales.  I got record figures and was rapidly shifted to a position of more  responsibility.  The reason?  I accepted blame.  Scheduling problems were a huge issue for the company, and the way they ran their business guaranteed that a number of clients were going to have to be rescheduled as their booking dates approached.  They expected a certain level of cancellations, and it was often exceeded.  Being a small market, though, these same clients were then approached the next year.  And the one after that.

If you got through to the decision maker, there were all too many stories of what had happened in their previous dealings.  At that point, most of the sales team started pointing the finger at issues and previous sales staff, to try to overcome those objections.  Meanwhile, the client was getting frustrated that he or she obviously wasn’t dealing with anyone who could answer their issues.

I took a different approach.  I listened, and I apologised on behalf of the company. I took the blame, and accepted responsibility. After explaining the limitations of the scheduling process, I promised to do my absolute best to ensure it didn’t happen to them again – and I did all that was within my power to make sure of it.

More than half the time, we got the sale.

Then I got shifted to complaint handling.  Again, as the scheduling process meant more and more bookings had to be shifted, we had irate customers upset that they’d been assured of their date, and now it was being moved.  Once again, just listening, and being willing to apologise for the inconvenience, meant most of them calmed enough to listen to the explanation of why, and to come to the mediation table.

We had record low numbers of drop-outs that year.  Many of those were amicable, and said they hoped we’d call back next year.

I don’t tell you this story so you’ll think I’m a great sales person, or complaint handler.  The truth is, I’ve used this same philosophy in so many different jobs, and life situations, that I know it’s an important and powerful principle.  If you want to create your life, a la “The Secret”, you’re going to have to learn that what most people see as “blame” and run a mile to avoid, is a secret backdoor to power.  Responsibility isn’t a dirty word, it’s a potent one.  If it’s offered to you, even if someone thinks they’re shovelling something nasty your way, smile, reach out, and grab it with both hands!

PS There is only one thing which I don’t let others blame me for.
It starts with ‘F’ and rhymes with ‘hearts’ 😉

{ 2 comments… add one }

  • Cheryl October 10, 2009 at 7:58 pm

    Great post ! Will be circulating it. This is the first time I have ever come across anyone expressing exactly what I believe about the POWER of responsibility – and so eloquently too ! The buck stops with me. I listen and I do everything in my power to make it work for all concerned.

    Reply edit
  • Crystal October 10, 2009 at 10:46 pm

    Thank you Cheryl, I appreciate the feedback. Looking forward to seeing your site when it goes live too…

    Reply edit
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