Everywhere you look, it seems that someone is offering advice on how to make your marriage happier, your friendships closer, and your love connections stronger. Television and radio talk shows are loaded with advice. Even your sister-in-law has advice…or your mother-in-law, cousins, the bartender at the local watering hole, and the guy at the bus stop.
Here is what may be the single most valuable piece of advice you will ever receive about how to build and sustain good, close, lasting relationships. And it’s not just for family members and close friends; it applies to the workplace as well. Are you ready? Here it is: Learn to stop blaming and finding fault with others. It doesn’t matter how much you may believe you are in the right. The fact is, blaming and fault-finding create resentment, hostility, and withdrawal.
Blaming, name-calling, pointing a finger at someone else – none of these are helpful unless we are trying to deflect the blame from ourselves. But as a wise one once said, when we point the finger at others, remember that three other fingers are pointing back at ourselves. In the end, all we do is destroy any possibility of trust in us, in what we say, do, and who we are.
When you stop blaming and finding fault, you create an atmosphere of openness, and the focus shifts from what is wrong to what it will look like when it is fixed. Practice making clear, honest statements of your needs and the changes you’d like. Clarity drives moving forward, even if it’s a little painful, at first.
Show why the thing you want is mutually desirable. Paint a vivid picture of the benefits of change and keep that picture alive in words and thoughts. Reward positive efforts toward change with lots of praise and approval. Remember, people move in the direction of praise, while criticism usually doesn’t produce much movement at all, except away from the critic.
This is Leadership 101. Try giving up on blaming others, take accountability for yourself, your words and your actions, and see how your relationships improve.