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Responding to blame


6) Avoid shifting the blame for our errors to others. This choice to blame others for our errors is clearly selfish and dishonest. Once we fabricate the truth, we may find ourselves telling additional lies to cover lies. On the other hand, by admitting our errors and accepting responsibility for them, right-thinking people will usually respect our honesty.

7) Avoid blaming an innocent messenger obliged to bring us the message about our errors. Wise King Solomon stated, "Do not hurry to become offended, because the taking of offense rests in the bosom of foolish ones" (Ecclesiastes 7:9).

Although we have no direct control over the content of the message delivered by a third party, we do have direct control over how we respond to it. If we feel that we are being unfairly blamed, we should concentrate on the principle that the best defense against misrepresentation is fine conduct.

8) We should learn from our mistakes. When we are on the receiving end of blame and criticism, even if we think it is unfair, we must train ourselves to rise above all that is petty, and to accept and use what is true and worthwhile. Those who learn from criticism are sometimes wiser than those who give it. We must be big enough to admit our mistakes, smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them.

9) For the sake of peace and unity, it may at times be advisable for us to shoulder blame for something we did not do, so long as no great issue or ethical or moral principle is involved. Isn't it better to endure wrong than to do wrong? In context of personal relationships, some things are more important than proving who is right and who is wrong.

So far we have considered nine steps that will constructively help us deal with our own faults. There is a common theme in all nine steps. Please review the following summary with the objective of finding it.

  • We should be responsible and accountable for our choices.
  • We should be truthful.
  • We should be humble, and not puffed up with self pride.
  • We should try to avoid being defensive.
  • We should avoid cover-ups.
  • We shouldn't blame the messenger for the message.
  • We should not shift blame for our own mistakes onto someone else.
  • We should try to learn from our mistakes.
  • To promote unity, we should consider shouldering the blame for the mistakes of others, provided an ethical or moral principle is not compromised.

Did you recognize the common theme in all nine of these steps? Again, it is the Golden Rule. The 10th step in performing a blamotomy is a direct application of the Golden Rule. To paraphrase, recognize and accept accountability for your errors as you want others to recognize and accept accountability for theirs.


Carl A. Osborne, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVIM
Between stimulus and response is a space. In this space lies our freedom to choose our response. Knowledge of the underlying causes of blame, self-awareness of our freedom to choose not to blame others, and the desire to constructively respond to being blamed by others are key components in controlling blamosis and blamomas. But having knowledge of these principles is not enough. We must put them into practice. With timely and consistent application of blamectomies and blamotomies designed in harmony with the time-tested principles of the Golden Rule, the frustration, loss of precious energy, distrust and disunity caused by the blame game will be replaced with enthusiasm, accomplishment, appreciation, trust and unity.

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.


Source: DVM360 MAGAZINE,
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