Accepting our part of the problem

Notice how hard it is to own our own stuff? Especially when the other person is the bigger problem? Consider the following conversation:

Speaker A: He’s such a jerk! I never want to talk to him again.

Speaker B: What happened?

Speaker A: He never told me that the assignment was due today or that it had to be done up professional. He just yelled at me when I asked him a question and told me I was going to get written up and reported to _____.

Speaker B: Wow that was so unlike him. He must have had something that was bothering him. Aren’t your assignments listed for you ahead of time?

Speaker A: Yeah, they are listed, but I wasn’t there when they put them up and because I have so much to do I couldn’t check what was listed and anyway he should tell me or at least cut me some slack since I work my butt off for him.

Without considering the wrongs or the mistakes of leader (which may be numerous!), notice that speaker A doesn’t tell you that he/she has a habit of forgetting to look at the assignment list nor that when the unnamed “he” called speaker A on messing up, speaker A then spoke in sarcastic and demeaning and defensive tones.

This is a fictional account. And yet we all struggle with saying, “I didn’t like how he treated me but to be fair, I keep forgetting to do what he asked.” “I wish he didn’t yell at me in front of everyone, but I have to admit I was goofing off and talking when I shouldn’t.” If I yell at my kids it is because I was tired or they deserved it. If I speed, it was because I was late. If I’m late it was because of bad traffic. If I didn’t finish my writing assignment it was because of some last-minute crisis. Notice how we take truths and turn them into defenses and thus avoid any blame at all.

What if you are only 10% of the blame for a conflict and your child/spouse/coworker/parent is to blame for the other 90%? Do you find it hard to say, “You know, when we were fighting yesterday, I said _________ and that was hurtful and wrong. Will you forgive me?” Do you find it hard to stop at the end of the sentence without adding, “but you….”

I do. So do my clients and my kids. We seem to think that if we acknowledge our part we let the other party off the hook. In fact, most frequently, when we own our part, the other party is MORE likely to own their stuff too.


Filed under conflicts, deception, Relationships, Repentance

3 responses to “Accepting our part of the problem

  1. Jess

    Just wanted to say that I really appreciated this post and thought that your last sentence was a great summary to hold onto as a take-away!

  2. Anna

    I seem to dodge conflict like the plague, but hate this about me, so have been praying and really trying hard to stay calm and not put all of the blame on the other person.

    A recent conversation with my brother in law-

    Him- “Mom said you made her feel like less of a person when you bought her groceries for her a few weeks ago.” (mom is going through bankruptcy and all of the emotions that can come along with that)

    Me- that sounds like gossip, why would you tell me something hurtful that I am sure she didn’t want me to hear and if she did she needs to tell me herself so we can work through it, her and I.

    Him- I was just trying to help by coming to you with that information. Please don’t make this some bigger deal than it needs to be.

    Me- I have to go.

    Him- You are acting so immature.

    I didn’t talk to him for a day or two. He was angry and kept leaving emotionally charged voicemails about the exchange. Any advice on how I could have handled that differently? I feel like I was setting a boundary, but am unsure. Any help would be appreciated.

    • Without knowing your tone, demeanor, or history with “him” your response sounds great. Just how was he trying to help? What did he expect you to do with the information. You might have bought more time by asking him that outright before labeling it gossip (which it was) but don’t assume that you could have avoided his reactions. Appropriate self-evaluation checks your heart and your reaction. Was it harsh? Was it attacking? Do you have a history of those things with him?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.