Find Mediators Near You:

Why Do We Blame?

“The only thing blame does it to keep the focus off you when you are looking for external reasons to explain your unhappiness or frustration.” Wayne Dyer

It seems we sometimes spend needless time in blame mode when we are disputing with another person. I don’t really know what compels blame when I hear mediating and coaching clients – or in my own tendency to blame, at times. Are we trying to take attention away from our own wrong-doing, as in this quote? Are we, for some reason, thinking it will make us feel better if we blame the other person – and that they will take responsibility for something (possibly to which we contributed)? Do we need to be the victim by blaming others?

Blaming seems to be impulsive and even instinctive for some. It’s often an instant reaction to being blamed ourselves, to feeling hurt and angry, to not getting what we want, to trying to do our best and it falls flat, to refusing to take responsibility if something doesn’t go well, and other such inner turmoil leading to blame. At these times, we don’t always realize that we have choices about how we react. That is, unless we are getting something out of blaming, which itself is an important question to ask ourselves, we have the ability to change a tendency to blame.

Since blaming doesn’t make things better, it helps to remove ourselves from the negativity and think about what is going on for us at these times. In this week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog you will see a list of reflective questions that may shed a light on a tendency to blame if that is something you are doing in a particular situation or generally, have a tendency – at some level of your consciousness – to choose blame.

  • What was it about the other person’s words or behaviour that led you to lay blame?
  • What did you need from the other person that they weren’t delivering on?
  • What impact did blaming the other have on you?
  • What impact did blaming have on the other person?
  • What do you believe about the other person and their intentions that may have contributed to your feelings of blame in this situation?
  • If you told the other person exactly what you are/were feeling about what they said or did, what words would you use?
  • What was going on for you that you chose blaming as a way to cope with this person or situation?
  • What other choices did you have that may have served you better?
  • What would it take for you to let go of the blame now if you want to? If you don’t want to, what is the reason you want to hold onto the blame?
  • What theme(s) may there be about the circumstances, subject matter, person and other possible variables – when you tend to blame?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?

Cinnie Noble

Cinnie Noble is a certified coach (PCC) and mediator and a former lawyer specializing in conflict management coaching. She is the author of two coaching books: Conflict Management Coaching: The CINERGY™ Model and Conflict Mastery: Questions to Guide You. MORE

Featured Mediators

View all

Read these next


Changing Lawyers’ Understanding of Resolving Disputes

This video is presented as part of's 25th Anniversary Conference. Leonard Riskin saw certain unahappiness in law schools that he linked to the adversarial process of settling disputes. Instead...

By Leonard Riskin

Post Divorce Haunts: Unresolved Issues or Changes in Circumstances Come Back to Haunt Divorced Couples

Divorce agreements tell a story.  The story speaks not only of arrangements for children’s living and times spent with each parent; it also delineates financial terms, which may include: Who...

By Dr. Lynne C. Halem

Making Sense of Collaborative Law

To most attorneys including this one, on the first hearing "collaborative law" sounds like a contradiction in terms. Lawyers go to court to find out who's right and who's wrong,...

By Robert Wildau