Do you ever notice that you have a tendency to blame another person when they make a mistake? I mean, blame THEM, as in “she is inconsiderate; he is lazy; he is a jerk who doesn’t care about anyone; she is selfish” and the list could go on and on and on. I was thinking about this idea the other day – about how we tend to blame another person for things based on their personality, or their inner qualities, when something goes wrong.
But if WE do something wrong we tend to have a lot of other reasons for the screw up that have nothing to do with our personality. Rarely are we ever so quick to blame our own pride, selfishness or ignorance for things compared to how quickly we can lay that blame on someone else. We like to say our mistakes are based on the setting …. we are about to be late, she shouldn’t have put that there, he shouldn’t have said that to me, someone moved my keys, my alarm didn’t go off on time ….
Social science has a cool way of understanding this whole idea. It’s called the Fundamental Attribution Error (I’ll call it “FAE” for short). The FAE basically says that when WE mess up it’s because we have a really good reason, but when OTHER people mess up it’s because they are lazy jerks!
If you think about this in the context of your relationships, you could be in big trouble if you do this all the time. Whether it’s with a friendship, marriage, parent-child, co-worker, boss; if you keep making this fundamental error it could have fatal results. Think about it, the other person who you are blaming is doing the exact same thing you are doing – you are blaming them for being a jerk and they are blaming you for being a jerk and no-one is ever considering that maybe each of you has just had a bad day or is going through a tough season in life.
So, before you keep on making this mistake over and over, consider that there may be some pretty good reasons why someone is behaving like they are before just assuming the worst about them….it might just save a relationship!