Blaming and scapegoating

blamingAnother mistaken blink-of-an-eye assumption (or “mis-blink“) we can easily fall into during times of change is called blaming or scapegoating.

When a situation turns out differently from the way we wanted and we blame someone for something that the person had only partial control over (including ourselves), then we are mixing up the person, the event, and our feelings about the event. We are ‘scapegoating’ the individual.

Human beings have used this way of getting rid of unpleasant feelings for thousands of years, but it is inappropriate and it doesn’t solve the problem.

This complex mis-blink is likely to contain a mix of the other mis-blinks:

  • a value judgment (of the person)
  • attachment (to the outcome that didn’t happen)
  • blinkered thinking (that the failure to get the outcome we wanted is somehow a complete disaster)
  • expectation (that it ‘should‘ have turned out differently from the way it did), assumption (that it was going to)
  • mistaking feelings for truth (mistaking our feelings about the event for a judgment of the person for a truth that they are to blame), and perhaps even
  • dependency (for the actions that we ourselves didn’t take that might have created a different outcome).

This makes scapegoating a great way for us to dump or project a whole range of our own inner emotions on to a person. That might make us feel better. But, like the archvillain in a movie who kills any team member who fails to meet their objectives, scapegoating a person only makes our organisation weaker and discourages others from making the future innovations that these times of change will need.

Better, instead, to manage our emotions. Use the tools of Chapter 1 to centre and ground ourselves and the people around us. Then use the tool in Chapter 2 to understand how we contributed to the situation and learn from what happened.

Then we can identity the only two things that really matter: what we will do differently in a similar situation next time and what we will do now to move forward.

Adapted from Inner Leadership

Photo By Partha S. Sahana via

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