None of us enjoys the feeling of having disappointed someone. Sometimes we face disappointment from others, and sometimes we’ve disappointed ourselves. Either way, we don’t like the feeling.
Disappointments can be large or small. We might forget to do something we said we would, or fail to meet a deadline, or not do as well as we hoped, or we might arrive late. We might realize we’ve made poor choices and not feel ready to take the responsibility for them.
This is exactly when the brain starts searching for some way to deflect blame. Many will choose to start complaining about circumstances and other people in hopes it will distract the disappointed party or disperse the blame.
- We blame our overloaded schedule for our forgetfulness.
- We blame broken technology for causing us to miss a deadline.
- We blame a corrupt evaluation system for our disappointing results.
- We blame traffic for making us late.
- We blame coworkers for not doing their part.
- We blame children for making us too tired.
- We blame spouses for not being supportive.
- We blame bosses for creating stressful environments.
- We blame the weather for keeping us from exercising.
- We blame Other People And Things for Whatever Happened.
In the practice of NoCo, blaming is a type of complaining because it’s another way that we talk as if we don’t have responsibility. We might think that it helps justify our mistakes and therefore improves how others think of us. In our minds we are less at fault and therefore less of a disappointment.
In reality, however, it erodes others’ confidence in us. If we blame others for our actions, we sound like we consider ourselves powerless. We sound like we can’t solve problems. We cause others to wonder if we also blame them behind their backs, and their trust in us starts to erode. They are less likely to want us to be part of their team.
While it might temporarily lessen others’ disappointment in us in the short term, blaming projects a future in which more disappointment is likely to happen.
Going NoCo means that we interrupt this pattern and start taking responsibility. Sometimes the source of these complaints is legitimate, but we recognize they only contributed to the end result. Going NoCo means we also take responsibility for our part.
- We recognize that we over-scheduled ourselves and that we didn’t set a reminder.
- We recognize that we waited until the last minute and didn’t leave buffer time to deal with mechanical problems.
- We know we can’t expect to succeed every time and seek to learn from it to do better next time.
- We leave earlier to avoid traffic, choose an alternative route, or re-schedule.
- We find out if our coworkers had the resources and information they needed, and if we communicated our expectations clearly.
- We recognize that a risk of being a parent is being under-slept, that we should anticipate that possibility in our plans whenever we can.
- We change how we’re asking for support from our spouses and find out what kind of support they are available for.
- We collaborate with our bosses and/or coworkers to find ways to reduce stress at work.
- We get appropriate clothes for exercising outside, or develop an indoor workout routine.
- We see that our own choices contribute to everything that we do.
And sometimes figuring out the cause and planning for next time isn’t what’s needed in the moment. Sometimes the right thing is just to apologize and feel that disappointment.
If we can use this as a motivator to change our choices in the future, then over time we’ll find that it’s easier to accept greater responsibility. We stop blaming and start owning our choices and we become increasingly trustworthy in the eyes of others — and ourselves.