"Don’t find fault. Find a remedy.” (Henry Ford)
While Henry Ford’s quote might well apply to making cars and running a business, it also has application to our interpersonal disputes when one of the common things many of us do is find fault with the other person. Or, we find fault in ourselves. Fault-finding in either case is not a good use of our time and energy. Though, yes, we can learn from finding fault in ourselves – with how we handled a situation – if we use that learning to improve our conflict competency. This week’s blog touches on the tendency to blame in either case, and how we might consider finding a remedy instead.
Why do we find fault anyway? The reasons vary of course – depending on the situation and other person and a host of other factors that may be leaning against us when we are faced with a conflict or initiate one. The other person may have let us down about a matter; we may want to take the attention away from our own bad behaviour; we are experiencing hurt, or feeling offended, betrayed, disappointed; our expectations, hopes and needs have been thwarted; a project didn’t work; we have a high opinion of ourselves, and lack respect for the other person or their efforts; and so on. These and many other possible reasons may result in a tendency to go to blame as a way of reacting. This isn’t to say that we overlook situations when someone has (or we have) done something blame worthy. (There are lots of situations that are unforgiveable and finding fault is a necessity.) The point in this blog is to consider – in our interpersonal disputes – whether finding a remedy – rather than fault – is a better use of our time and energy.
I suggest you bring two situations to mind – one in which you found fault with someone else and one in which someone else found fault in you – as you respond to this set of Conflict Mastery Quest(ions).
- What was the situation in which you found fault in the other person (what specifically did they say or do for which you blamed them)?
- What reasons might account for the person doing or saying what you just described? What other reasons might they offer that you aren’t including here?
- What was the outcome of the situation? How might you describe your preferred outcome?
- What would it take for you to let go of the fault you are finding with the other person?
- What possible remedies are (or were) there to the problem itself? What remedy do you want for the relationship?
- How might you go about making that happen (your answers to the above questions about possible remedies)?
- In what sort of circumstances did someone find fault with you? How does or did that feel? What part(s) of their fault-finding has some basis to it (them)?
- What might the other person want or need from you to be able to move forward instead of continuing to blame you?
- What sorts of remedies might you offer to this situation? What other ones might you be open to?
- What do you suppose it would take for you to raise the possibility of finding a remedy?
- What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
- What insights do you have?