Before you blame

Before you blame

Written By Jeffrey Gitomer

KING OF SALES, The author of seventeen best-selling books including The Sales Bible, The Little Red Book of Selling, and The Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude. His live coaching program, Sales Mastery, is available at

Before You Blame.

Whenever something goes wrong, people (you included) tend to look for what is known as a scapegoat-someone to blame.

And blame has several cousins: Justification, Politics, Self-Protection, and the worst of them all-Defending Your Position (also known as It Wasn’t My Fault).

It never ceases to amaze me how many “perfect” people exist in the world. Which makes me wonder when I’ll stumble across that great big black hole of shirked responsibility.

In the business of selling, blame points in a number of directions. Salespeople are blamed for pretty much everything when an error occurs. And, of course, salespeople blame everyone else and their dog for everything that goes wrong. And, of course, the person who suffers is the customer. And, of course, the ultimate loser is the company.

When blame is thrown around, work suffers-nothing gets done. Productivity turns into negativity.

The obvious repercussions when blame continues to occur are loss of morale and loss of productivity. In other words: loss of business.

Pretty dismal picture so far, huh?

Well, you’re in luck. Antidotes to the blame-game are listed below. Things you can do to stop blaming others and prevent the blame-game from reoccurring. Action steps you can take before you blame. But here’s the warning: Blame is the instinctive response; defensiveness is the intensive response; self-protection is the instinctive response. In order to get away from blame-clear, proactive thought must dominate the mental condition.

Sounds complicated, but the answers below are pretty simple.

NOTE WELL: If your blame-agenda is political, you can stop reading now.

The key to stopping blame is intervention that leads to prevention. Intervention is best accomplished by “asking”-NOT-“blaming.” First, you will have to ask yourself questions. Then, you will have to ask questions of others. Finally, there are actions you must take that are a result of the questions you ask of yourself and others.

I know, it still sounds pretty complicated, but the questions below will clear it up. Just keep in mind that it’s more important to resolve than to blame.

Instead of blaming, ask yourself:

1. What really happened? Where did things go wrong?

2. What can I do instead of blaming? What are alternative ways of making the communication and still completing the task?

3. What could we have done as a company to prevent this from occurring?

4. How can my expertise help at this moment?

5. Who will fix the situation?

6. How will that get done?

7. Who will be responsible to ensure that the blame issue is resolved?

8. Who will be responsible to ensure the blame issue doesn’t happen again?

8.5. What ideas do I have to help resolve the issue temporarily and permanently?

I’m sure there are other questions you can ask of yourself and others. What I’ve tried to do is give you a list that will start to reverse the blame process. FYI: The opposite or reverse of blame is responsibility.

Blame is a waste of time. Blame is a waste of energy. Blame is a losing proposition-for everyone.

I’m most concerned about people who both place blame AND defend their position. It seems as though they have a weak self-image and their self-protection instinct is somewhat paranoid. It’s almost as though they HAVE to blame someone.

The blame remedies are not easy. Nothing valuable is easy. The consequences of blame, however, are so divisive and so energy wasting-that it’s worth making the conscious effort to reduce it or eliminate it.

The obvious key is to start with yourself. And the obvious resolution is for you to begin by accepting responsibility and/or accepting the challenge to make it right-BEFORE you have a chance to tell someone they’re wrong.

And for those that say, Jeffrey, what does this have to do with sales? I will answer you with a single word: everything. It has to do with your image. It has to do with your self-esteem. And it has to do with the character of your salespeople and everyone representing your company.

Want to start? Think about the last two or three things that went wrong in your company. What happened? Who got blamed? What did you do? Replay “the tape in your mind” and ask yourself: What could I have done differently (in a positive way) that might have changed the outcome, preserved the morale, and helped someone else save face?

I am amazed at how little is written about blame. (I wonder who I could blame for that?)

This lesson is not an easy one, but I promise that it’s a powerful one in your quest to be the best.

Free GitBit. Want more ideas on responsibility? Wanna take a self-evaluation to see how responsible you really are? Go to – register if you’re a first time user, and enter the words I’M RESPONSIBLE in the GitBit box.

Jeffrey Gitomer, author of The Sales Bible and The Little Red Book of Selling, is President of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer. He gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings, and conducts Internet training programs on selling and customer service at He can be reached by phone: 704/333-1112 or e-mail:

c 2004 All Rights Reserved – Don’t even think about reproducing this document without written permission from Jeffrey H. Gitomer and Buy Gitomer 704/333-1112