Whenever you work in a company, things don’t always go right.  Shipments come late, angry clients leave disparaging comments, and sometimes an accident happens at just the wrong time.  Once that happens, it can really show who the leaders are, and who the cantankerous curmudgeons are.

To be a leader, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are the manager or the CEO.  It can mean various things and every single individual, no matter the position they are in, can take a strong leadership role by focusing on results and solutions and avoiding blame is usually a big component of this.

Sometimes, our internal instinct is to immediately shift the blame and responsibility to others and many times, others may actually be at fault.  However, many times blame is useless and blaming people may actually exacerbate the problem.

So, how can you avoid blame in work settings in regards to language?  One of the best ways, is to use the passive voice.

Look at the examples below.

 

“Tim started the fire in the warehouse..”

 

You can see from the above sentence that this is directly putting the blame on Tim.  Instead, we can use passive voice where we make the subject, in this case Tim, less important or non-existent.  We should focus on the fire instead and leave out the name.

 

“The fire was started in the warehouse.”

 

By using the passive voice structure, we can avoid blaming people.  The main facts are still there, but who did it is completely avoided.

Let’s look at another example.

 

“Schneider electric has sold 15 million defective lightbulbs last year.”

 

Once again, if changed to passive voice, it would look like this.

 

“15 million defective lightbulbs were sold last year.”

 

Clearly, what can be seen is that the company that is to blame, has been left out so it can be very useful if you want to solve the problem without targeting who to blame specifically.

 

So the next time you have a problem and you want to focus on a solution, and not the person or thing that caused it, you can use the passive voice!