Why are we so quick to blame? Yes, I’ve painted that with a broad brush, but as I used the first person, I thought it fair.
Perhaps, actually, the problem as it broke upon me Sunday morning is less about blame than about the way we use our language. Perhaps you can help me decide.
We have recently developed new, updated nametags for our church. We are int he process of replacing the old ones, as well as trying to keep up with all the new ones we need for new attenders and regular guests.
Twice this past Sunday I was approached with this statement: “You misspelled my name on this nametag!” I, of course, quickly clarified that I had not personally done any of the nametags, so I had not misspelled anyone’s name. After this clarification, I asked each of the individuals if they would write a note to our office including their correctly spelled name.
In each case I attempted to make it clear that we do not intentionally misspell anyone’s name, and that we regret the mistake.
It was only later that I realized that the same conversation, reaching the same outcome, could have begun with a declaratory “My name is misspelled” rather than the accusatory, “You misspelled my name.”
I believe I am onto something. I would guess that much of what becomes difficult, even damaging, in relationships, starts with an accusation where a declaration would be at least as appropriate a characterization, and far less damaging.
Unless you are certain that you want to, even need to seek to blame, would you be willing to change your language from accusatory to declaratory?