“But it wasn’t my fault! I’m not responsible!”

Courtesy of a link at globular-worming-debunking blog Watt’s Up With That?, I came across a very interesting article on how we (humans in general) tend to avoid taking responsibility for words and/or actions that have proved harmful or negative.  It’s worth reading the whole article.  To whet your appetite, here’s a list of ten excuses often used.  How many of them have you heard before – or used yourself?

1. Delegate the matter to someone else internally – diffuse it, distance yourself from it – and do everything to avoid an internal and especially an independent review.

2. Avoid, reword, or repackage, the issues – obfuscate the facts, or at least talk tentatively or vaguely about some mistakes in the past and that you or someone could probably have done a better job on … but go no further; rationalise and/or disguise any culpability.

3. Focus on minor or “other” things so as to look like you are focusing on the central things, punctuating it all with the language of transparency and accountability.

4. Appeal to your integrity and to acting with the highest standards, without demonstrating either.

5. Point out your past track record. Highlight anything positive that you are doing or contributing to now.

6. Ask and assume that people should trust you without verification. Offer some general assurances that you have or will be looking into the matter and all is okay.

7. State that you are under attack or at least that you are not being treated fairly or that people just don’t understand.

8. Mention other peoples’ (alleged) problems, question their motives and credibility; dress someone else in your own dirty clothes, especially if they are noisome question-askers or whistleblowers.

9. Prop up the old boys’ leadership club, reshuffle the leadership deck if necessary yet without changing leaders or their power or how they can cover for each other in the name of “loyalty” and on behalf of the “greater good”. Try to hold out until the dust settles and the “uncomfortable” stuff hopefully goes away.

10. So in short, don’t really do anything with real transparency and accountability; rather, maintain your self-interests, lifestyle, affiliations, and allusions of moral congruity, even if it means recalibrating your conscience – essentially, acting corruptly via complicity, cover-ups, and cowardice.

There’s more at the link.

I know I’ve done some of those things – hopefully not too often!  It’s sobering (and uncomfortable) to realize that we’re guilty of many of them without realizing or thinking about it.  They’re almost knee-jerk reactions rather than rational responses.

It’s also worth remembering those ten points, because we’re going to run into them in all sorts of situations in almost every walk of life.

  • Customer service problem?  Watch the vendor use them to make excuses.
  • Politician caught lying?  Watch the weasel duck and dive!
  • Problems in our relationship with our spouse?  Why, it’s all your fault, darling!  (Yeah.  Right.)

Food for thought.



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