Showing posts with label Walking on Eggshells. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Walking on Eggshells. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Ending Blame and Defensiveness in Relationships

Ending Blame and Defensiveness in Relationships 

(How to Have the Shortest Argument ever)

“We always fight over the dumbest little things”
“I don’t even remember how it started”
“My husband blames me for everything”
“My wife blames me for everything that goes wrong”
This blog is about blame in relationships

Mediate to Go - Ending Blame and Defensiveness in Relationships
Blame should not be placed in any of the above baskets. Learn how to end blame and defensiveness.

Introduction to Blame and Defensiveness

Often, conflicts over something very small are then fuelled by blame and defensiveness and blow up into a full-blown argument. The original problem gets lost because we have added so many layers of blame and defensiveness that we are arguing about the way we argue, rather than what actually happened. Why do we feel the need to blame someone else or search for someone to blame?  It’s time to stop pointing the finger of blame, and time to shift blame into something positive. Let’s stop blame!

Definition of Blame

Blame means  “to place the responsibility for (a fault, error, etc.)” ( Synonyms for blame include repudiation, criticism, accusation, attack, charge, chiding, complaint. (

Definition of Defensiveness

Defensiveness is to be “excessively concerned with guarding against the real or imagined threat of criticism, injury to one's ego, or exposure of one's shortcomings” ( Synonyms for defensiveness include averting, preventive, thwarting, coping with, defending, safeguarding, in opposition (

What you need to know about blame and defensiveness

First, let’s be clear that really small things are not worth talking about at all, and we can learn to have compassion for our partner’s imperfection and let those little things go. This blog about fixing relationships by sorting things into baskets can help you decide if something is worth bringing up.

Once you’ve decided to bring up an issue, how you do it is important. These are bad starters:  “You always…”, “You never…” “I’m sick and tired of…” “Would you just stop…”.  Approaching someone with blame and generalizations or telling them what to do (or not to do) invites defensiveness. When we feel attacked, it’s human instinct to defend ourselves. So, the first step to stopping defensiveness is to not blame.

Steps to address blame and defensiveness.

1.  Try a Preamble to reduce defensiveness:

·      “This is a small thing…”
·      “This is a 1 on the scale…”
·      “I’m not upset with you…”
·      “I don’t need you to do anything differently…”
·      “Please only hear me. You don’t need to respond…”
·      “I know it wasn’t your intention to come across this way…”

2.  Deliver a short explanation of The Issue:  

The goal is to give information about how you respond to something your partner does.  Make the delivery short and sweet.

·      I was embarrassed when you told that racial joke in front of Emma”
·      “When you keep forgetting to pick up my dry cleaning, I feel like what I want doesn’t matter.”
·      “When you aren’t ready and I want to leave I feel frustrated that I’m made to be late”
·      “When you roll your eyes and speak in that tone, I feel two years old”.

3.  Try to END IT THERE!  

Expect no response. Leave. Give your partner time to absorb it. Get in the habit of ending the delivery right there so defensives can’t creep in.  If they get defensive, try:

·      “I’m not sure you’re hearing me. Remember I don’t need you to feel badly…just to understand.”

4. The Time to EXPLAIN is LATER! 

Often, the urge to defend ourselves is simply us wanting our partner to know that our intent was not to hurt them. BUT there should be at least enough time in between the delivery and the explanation to assure the partner that they are understood. It’s certainly okay to reassure someone you had no ill intent. The problem is that if it happens too soon, it comes across as defensiveness.

Putting a space in between the delivery and the defense can help keep little things from blowing up into big ones.   

About the Author – Ending Blame and Defensiveness

Lynda Martens is the Wabisabi Therapist and a contributor to the Mediateto Go Blog. Please read her other contributions by searching on this page for Lynda Martens.

Further listening – songs about blame.

Check out the Mediate2go Top 10 lists about conflict. One of the songs deals with blame.

Further reading - more quotes on blame.

A good leader takes a little more than his share of the blame, a little less than his share of the credit.
Arnold H. Glasow
Too often in life, something happens and we blame other people for us not being happy or satisfied or fulfilled. So the point is, we all have choices, and we make the choice to accept people or situations or to not accept situations.
Tom Brady
A man can fail many times, but he isn't a failure until he begins to blame somebody else.
John Burroughs
I think it's very important that you make your own decision about what you are. Therefore you're responsible for your actions, so you don't blame other people.
Prince William

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Bullying and Harassment Bullying, Harassment, Quote by Maya Angelou
Not everyone is taught the benefits of diversity during their childhood. Often, we meet people who have difficulty accepting others in the world, including in the workplace. Sometimes, these situations escalate. This blog will detail how to deal with a workplace bully. Please leave comments at the end if you have additional questions.

Dealing with a workplace bully, such as a boss or co-worker can have devastating consequences. Sometimes open confrontation may not be appropriate or useful, so here are some general recommendations to deal with someone who exhibits a toxic personality. Remember, the power difference between you and a workplace bully may be significant. It’s important to be conscious of this and to find safe and appropriate ways of empowering yourself to move to a better situation, either inside of outside of the organization.
  1. Talk to your union and find out what your government says about workplace harassment. Some countries offer special assistance in harassment cases. They can also tell you if your complaint might be allowable.
  2. Built alliances with others if you sense they are experiencing the same. Be careful in doing so as this may backfire. [i]
  3. Know your true worth on the market and always have other options. Applying for jobs even if you love your current job. Do so discretely. This is an easy way of ensuring that you have other options and contacts if you are forced to make a move outside of the organization.
  4. Try to assess how you could improve your performance, and if objectively, you are doing something incorrectly. Sometimes we feel defensive when receiving feedback. We may feel as if our managers are attacking our identity. However, ask a colleague, preferably in the same position, if you are doing a good job. Tell your manager your intention is to do a good job and that you are willing to do your best.
  5. If the manager is indeed being inappropriate, with a consistently aggressive tone, using insults, and so forth, be sure to document everything.
  6. Be the bigger person and do not respond with threats, emotion or an equally aggressive tone. By reacting in a calm and collected manor, acknowledging what was said, “…you effectively strip all of the power behind their verbal attacks without [escalating] the conflict. If your boss happens to be intimidating or controlling, then the best way of dealing with their behaviour is to remain calm and acknowledge their power. Consider turning the discussion into one that is focused on goals[ii].
  7. Escalate your complaint up the hierarchy of the organization as a last resort.
Conflict at work can be extremely draining and time consuming. The dynamics can be extremely complex, so see professional advice outside of the workplace.


[i]           Loo, Tristan. (2008)
[ii]           Loo, Tristan. (2008)

Search: #harassment, #bullying, #walking-on-eggshells, #stop-walking-on-eggshells, #Maya-Angelou, #Diversity

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