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I Hate When That Happens!

Working with client families as I do, there are sometimes occasions where communications go awry and something occurs that makes me blush and say, “Oh crap!”

Not that I’m a perfectionist, but any small slip up that makes me look like I was negligent or derelict in even a small way can result in me feeling disappointed in myself, and looking at making sure I don’t repeat that mistake again.

That relatively low threshold is something I want to maintain, even if I also want to learn to loosen my need to never look bad.

Is There Someone Else to Blame?

In the early years of my work in this field, I typically worked alone with client families, so when something went wrong, there was nowhere to hide, or, maybe said more clearly, nobody else I could blame.

Now that I work in collaboration with others more often, that has changed, a little bit.

While it can sometimes be tempting to lay 100% of the blame at someone else’s feet, that kind of attitude and behaviour can quickly turn against you.

Is Self-Blame Always Better?

Regular readers recognize that one key reason that I continue to compose these weekly missives is that this work forces me to think through subjects that my brain dances with from time to time.

Committing to this exercise of sharing my thoughts every seven days has been more helpful than most might realize, as putting thoughts into words here actually helps me advance my thinking.


Like now, as I consider the idea of blaming myself rather than passing that blame to someone else, what’s that about?

There are times where someone else clearly deserves the brunt of the fact that something was fouled up; should I assume a huge chunk of the fault then?  Probably not.

Learning from Mistakes: Ours and Others’

In a recent email exchange with some members of a client family, I had relied on some incomplete information from a colleague I’m working with on that file.

It angered me a bit when I found out that I’d sent them something in a way that could have been put better, had I had the full picture.

After I settled down a bit, a couple of things became more clear.

First off, it wasn’t a big deal, and nobody really noticed besides me. 

Second, I need to accept the fact I made certain assumptions that I could have (should have?) checked out first.

On a different case where I’m working as part of a team, one teammate shared some info with me about a family member, which turned out to be wrong. The result was that I said something in an email that was off base, and I ended up looking silly, which I detest.

On this occasion, I “took one for the team”, and was thankful that it wasn’t my mistake that made someone else look bad, which can feel even worse.

Intra-team Communication Issues

These sorts of intra-team communications issues need to be expected, even as we try to minimize both their occurrence and impact.

Sometimes they create a nice opportunity to normalize the difficulties in front of family member clients, because we almost never stop working with them to help them smooth out their own communication issues. See: An Abnormal Amount of Normalizing

And of course any opportunity to learn from a sub-optimal experience should be seized for all its worth.

Mistakes Are Going to Happen – Deal with It

Errors are bound to happen, and apportioning the blame is typically a futile exercise.

Owning up to our shortcomings and mistakes can be difficult, but like many other activities that require some courage, they’re actually often good for us.

Receiving feedback, even when it’s negative, can be a gift, but only if we look at it this way.

One favourite expression of mine has long been, “It’s not what happens to you that’s important, it’s what you do with it”, or some related version thereof.

Are You Learned or a Learner?

This evokes something I saw a while back but have not shared here yet.

Some people consider themselves to quite “learned” (pronounced: Lur-Ned). That’s nice, of course, if you value those who have taken the time to become educated.

Of course you can change the last letter from a “D” to an “R”, and become a “learner” (Lur-Nur).

How we choose to receive feedback makes a huge difference.