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The Blame game
Teach yourself how to perform a blamectomy in 10 thoughtful steps


DVM360 MAGAZINE


6) Before blaming another, we should reflect on our intent for doing so. In poetic verse, this step might be expressed as follows:

"When within ourselves, the urge to blame we find, these four questions bring to mind: Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it helpful? Is it kind?"

7) If someone hurts us, it's natural to hope for an apology. But if an apology is slow to come, what is likely to occur if we continue to dwell on our negative feelings?

If we are determined to wait for an apology that never comes, we may become even more frustrated. In effect, we may be allowing the offending person to control our emotions in a negative way. The cost in terms of lost energy and negative feelings can be enormous.

8) What about our legal rights? Although the answer to this question varies with circumstances, recall that civil law is not synonymous with morality.

Just because we have the legal right to exact reparation from another person does not always mean we have the moral right to do so. If others express sincere sorrow for their improper actions, why not try to forgive and forget? We can forgive in terms of letting go of resentment. By withholding forgiveness, we often are choosing to be unhappy, perhaps even more so than the person we are blaming. We can forget in the sense of not holding the error against another at some future time. The wise person who can forgive and forget saves the expense of anger, the cost of hate, the price of misery and the waste of time.

9) We should avoid damaging others' reputations by not spreading harmful gossip about their perceived error to others. We should not reveal what may hurt another, unless it is of greater harm to someone else to conceal their errors. The Judicial Council of the American Veterinary Medical Association made the following statement about ethical behavior: "Veterinarians should not slander, or injure the professional standing or reputation of other veterinarians..."1

So far, we have considered nine steps that will help us to constructively control our impulse to blame others harmfully. There is a common theme in all nine of these steps. Please review the following summary with the goal of finding it.

1) Be kind and gentle.

2) Get all the facts before assigning blame.

3) Be an empathic listener and be empathic when offering corrective counsel.

4) Overcome the desire to retaliate.

5) Balance the harmful effect of others' errors with the intent of their actions.

6) Consider your intent.

7) If necessary, accept the situation and overcome negative feelings, even without an apology.

8) When circumstances allow, forgive in terms of letting go of resentment, and forget in terms of not holding the error against an individual in the future.

9) Avoid the tendency to spread harmful gossip about others' errors.

10) The common theme in all nine of these steps is the Golden Rule. The 10th step in performing a blamectomy is also a direct application of the Golden Rule. To paraphrase, respond to the errors and mistakes of others as you want them to respond to yours.


Carl A. Osborne
Dr. Osborne, a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, is professor of medicine in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Minnesota.


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Source: DVM360 MAGAZINE,
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