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Whose responsibility is it anyway?

Are we always responsible?  Should we be? 


Most theorists talk about taking responsibility for what we do yet they rarely talk about the times when some people take too much responsibility for a situation.


Let’s take a case where someone has the belief that in order to be OK they need to please others, that their own needs are less important than other people’s.  Many of you reading this might say that rarely happens as most people avoid taking responsibility.  Well, that rather depends upon their personality.  Those people who are Harmonisers (see Kahler’s Process Communication Model), have a style that when distressed will mean that they have a need to please.  This means that when a conversation doesn’t go as well as they would have liked they automatically blame themselves and make themselves Not OK. It’s not difficult to see that unless they do something to move to a positive frame of reference they are likely to disempower themselves and have less thinking available to problem solve. 


If this applies to you here’s why to do instead.  Take a look at the situation again.  Is the issue really all your responsibility?  What were the other contributory factors? 


It may be that there was not a clear contract about:


  • timings of the meeting e.g. start and end times
  • what you were discussing and why
  • who is responsible for note-taking
  • stakeholders being present
  • relevant time frames for tasks


Alternatively the issue may have been more about difficulties with the system or structure that created a problem.  Perhaps someone else wasn’t taking responsibility for their part in the process.  If there was someone else who should have accounted their part, consider the percentage of responsibility.  This is not to blame but more to train yourself to look for evidence that you were totally responsible. 


For those of you who have a knee-jerk reaction to self-recrimination it is always a good idea to reflect and consider the reality.  One technique is to consider the situation from at least three other perspectives as this means that you will need to step away from merely your own frame of reference.


In the longer term it would make your life easier if you recognised your early warning signs when you are moving into distress and trying to Please Others.  If you have Harmoniser in your personality you will need to ensure that you are given recognition for who you are and find ways to meet up with people who you trust and who value you.

Remember that not everything is your total responsibility. 


If you would like to know more about personality, or would value a consultation about your leadership style, then contact us.  Alternatively get a copy of our book Working Together, Organizational Transactional Analysis and Business Performance, published by Gower in both hard and paperback editions. Get your copy now!


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