top of page

3 tips on how you can have more impact replacing blame with curiosity

We're all making mistakes and learning from them, and today, I would like to share one of my recent learnings with you. I was working on a group project, some things were not going as planned and the conversation started heating up. At some point there was some serious finger pointing going one from both sides. After the meeting, I felt angry and very upset with myself about what happened. That I should've known better not to get lured into the "blame game" as I'd like to call it.

Why you might ask?

From my own experience, I learned that starting to blame each other when in a conflict is just not constructive. John Gottman from University of Washington found that blame and criticism escalate conflict, leading to defensiveness and - eventually- to disengagement. If you believe that you already know what the other person was thinking and what their intentions were, you're not ready to have an open conversation and learn from each other.

When creating a safe team environment, having an open, learning mindset is important. It is only when acknowledging that you don't know all of the factors that you will come with an open mindset to the table, allowing a positive and constructive atmosphere.

Knowing this, I started researching on how I could do better in the future and came across and artical on HBR by Laura Delizonna that gave 3 tips that will help to start replacing blame with curiosity. I will share the main points below:

  1. State the problem or outcome as an observation, using factual language "There have been some difficulties in project x"

  2. Open the door for an exploration of the problem together: "I can imagine that there are multiple factors that contribute, maybe we could explore them together?"

  3. Ask for solutions. The key to solving a problem is often within the people themselves. "what do you think needs to happen here?" is a good example.

This is something I will actively work on during my next conflict when feeling triggered by blame. Do you have other tips or tricks?


bottom of page