What Is Finger Pointing Costing Us -- and What You Can Do

When something goes wrong, it's all too easy to point the finger in the other direction.

How many times have we fallen for this easy out? Too many to count, right? Just today our CPA sent me a form to sign, and there was no place to sign. So I shot her back an email to which she kindly replied, "Signature of partner or signature and title of officer. That's where you sign." When I took the time to look, it was right there. Embarrassing -- and stupid.

Any of these examples of our "It's Not My Fault" habit sound familiar?

  • When we're stressed and lash out
  • When somebody criticizes or accuses
  • When we didn't do something when we said we would
  • When we're late for an appointment
  • When we don't take responsibility for what's happened

Here's an example that needs no explanation.


Top of the list is when it really is someone else's fault -- and we have proof. Then we have the right to point the finger, right? I don't think so. What if we just let it go and moved on to the next moment?

So why should we work on breaking this habit? Because the cost is too high. All we need do is look at what's happening in our world, our country, our organizations, and our relationships with one another.

Here's what the It's Your Fault! approach is costing us.

The head of the country blames the opposition, the opposition blames the head of the country, the police blame the people, the people blame the police, the CEO blames the shareholders, the directors blame the CEO, the managers blame the directors, the wife blames the husband, the husband blames the wife, the parents blame the kids, and the kids blame the parents.

Then war is declared.

I've been both victim and perpetrator of many of these -- how about you?

For example, how easy is it to point the finger at the politicians running for office in this country? And the fault they have that irritates us the most? Finger pointing!

So what can we do? The only option for me is to wake up to the automatic responses -- both internal and external. Here's what I recommend for all of us -- read aloud as if you were saying it to yourself, as I am.

  1. Be aware of the misery I cause with this habit.
  2. Listen to myself -- what's my story, both said and unsaid?
  3. Would I really rather be right than apologize and take responsibility?
  4. Become better at letting go, trusting, and having faith in others and to myself.
  5. Be present, be positive.

Our strongest motivation for doing so comes from Mahatma Ghandi --

You must be the change
you want to see in the world.

I'd love to hear your thoughts about finger pointing, and what you're learning. Either leave a comment by scrolling to the bottom of this page or write to me directly at

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