Responsibility, Contribution and Blame
I was first introduced to the concept of “Response-ability” in my 20s. It was a huge “aha” for me – to realise that I had the choice and ability to respond in different ways to what was happening in my life.
This was the first flowering of awareness for me in this area and since then opportunities to work with this have arisen in various forms.
This journey has taken me through taking ownership for my own actions and responses, to working with my unconscious reactions, to realising that I have the choice in terms of how I respond but that this does not mean that I can necessarily control what happens or the outcome that unfolds.
I went through a phase where I thought if I just worked hard enough on and with myself, everything would fall into place… sometimes that was enough… but other times it wasn’t. This also meant that I often did not have a conversation with the people involved, thinking that I could resolve it by myself.
I started shifting from only considering my responsibility to also considering who else was with me, co-creating the experiences and conversations. And, as usually happens, I was presented with opportunities to practice including situations where there was a strong potential for blame in either or both directions.
Shifting from blame to contribution
At that stage a brilliant book came into my life: Difficult Conversations by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton and Sheila Heen. I began to understand how joint actions interact to produce a result and how to keep a conversation on track by shifting from a stance of “Blame” to “Contribution”. This empowered me to start engaging more and continues to be one of the most helpful, practical tools I have used to skilfully keep conversations on track and open the possibility for a win-win outcome.
I am not perfect in this, but I find the more I practice, the better I get and the easier it is to discuss what matters most.