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Don't Blame, Shame or Complain
By Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D.

Communicating to a team member can be more dependent on how you say "it" rather than what it is you say. If you blame, shame or complain, your team mate could get defensive and not be able to take in what it is you are trying to tell him or her.

When someone feels blamed, he or she can immediately go into denial about what you are trying to share. For many people, feeling blamed takes them right back to childhood and he or she will choose to ignore the problem, get over-sensitive or become angry. Telling a staffer how you feel without blaming will help engage him or her in resolving the issue rather than confusing it or having things escalate into an argument.

Blaming is also a way of avoiding responsibility. Making any issue someone else's fault takes away the opportunity you have to correct a negative action and grow from the experience. If you want to be the best team member and person you can, own your behaviors. It is also wise to remember that there are such things as honest mistakes, and for those, forgiveness is the key.

Shaming someone is one of the most ineffective and destructive means of getting your way or avoiding an issue. I actually think it borders on emotional abuse. When a person feels shamed he or she becomes disempowered and is no longer participating in the discussion. The shamed individual is emotionally processing feelings of guilt and not being good enough instead of looking to solve a problem. People who work with others who are shaming feel weak and are not able to give their teams the finest parts of themselves.

Shaming behavior can include name-calling, belittling, bullying, comparing one person to another or using foul language. Treating a team member in this way will not get you what you want; it will only serve to further alienate him or her from you. If you are hurt or angry with a team mate, tell them so without adding fuel to the fire. A straight-forward approach will help you accomplish so much more than a shaming or negative remark will.

Complaints are universal in life, but how you complain can be the difference between a caring team mate and one that could care less. Letting your team members know that changes are needed is an important part of a healthy working relationship. Doing it without anger or attitude is the sign of a mature leader.

Explaining how your team mate's behaviors make you uncomfortable and how he or she could do things differently is far more effective than just harping about what seems wrong or raising your voice to get your point across. Most people are receptive to gentle, positive suggestions. If you haven't tried it in a while give it a shot, you may be surprised at how well a little tact works.

Blaming, shaming and complaining are ineffective tools when it comes to building a positive working environment. Put them away and use your best communication cornerstones instead.

For more than two decades Fortune 500 companies, educational institutions, and government organizations worldwide have relied on Dr. Barton Goldsmith to help them develop creative and balanced leadership. He is a highly sought-after keynote speaker, business consultant and nationally syndicated author. His columns appear in over 150 publications, including the Los Angeles Business Journal. Dr. Goldsmith works regularly with The Young President¹s Organization (YPO) and The Executive Committee (TEC). Considered an expert on small business, he has spoken worldwide to groups of 10 to 5,000, and is in high demand for Keynotes, Training and Consulting. He can be contacted through his web site at: www.BartonGoldsmith.com or at (818) 879-9996.






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