'Blame Shifting' isn't funny, unless you're Julia Roberts

One of my most favourite actresses is Julia Roberts.  I watch all of her films – even the not so great ones (which aren’t many, but I reluctantly admit 1 or 2) – because she’s in it.

She is in a particularly funny scene in a film called ‘The Mexican’ (one of her many ‘good’ films) in which she stars with Brad Pitt.  Julia & Brad are a couple & they have been experiencing some relationship difficulties and have sort out counselling.  Brad (as I like to call him!) has just advised Julia that he is unable to take a trip they had planned.  Julia’s character is not happy.  Brad starts to try to explain and says that it is because of…blah, blah blah.  Julia shrieks “so you’re blame-shifting?  You’re blame-shifting!”

Clearly, this is something that irritates Julia and has been discussed at their counselling sessions.  You and I would recognise it as making excuses or not taking responsibility.  But in the context of the film it was probably one of the funniest lines.

We were recently offered an ‘added value’ service by a holiday company which we chose to utilise.  Except when it came to delivering the service…they didn’t.  When we queried this with a representative we were advised that it’s not their responsibility they can only request it.  Coupled with the fact the representative was more than a little ‘snotty’ she was clearly passing the buck i.e. ‘blame shifting’.

This type of behaviour, when confronted by a customer, is not useful.  It can & often does make matters worse.  What started out as a minor inconvenience or sometimes even an observation for or by the customer can quickly escalate into a major irritation.  By simply taking responsibility for a situation, will, often times diffuse a potentially difficult situation.    By offering to take details and looking in to the problem would be even better.

This is quite a common yet basic mistake businesses make when providing goods and services – whether it be that something you purchased doesn’t work as it should or, as I’ve mentioned above, a service not delivered.  Don’t make excuses, take responsibility and attempt to put it right.  You may be very surprised by the effect it has with what otherwise could have been a ‘difficult customer’.