There seems to be a lot of finger-pointing going around.
People pointing to other people as causes of problems:
- One country points to another for the coronavirus pandemic.
- One politician points to another for failure in stopping the spread of the virus;
- A restaurant owner blames a vendor’s delay in deliveries as reason for the lack of items on a menu;
- A manager blames an office worker for poor sales performance;
- Fans ask “Who’s at fault for why our team didn’t make the playoffs?” and the next thing we see is the head coach getting fired.
We tend to find fault in people. And we do that a lot. Just read the newspapers and we see people blaming other people. Anything from crime, accidents, or plain gossip, someone is hitting somebody else for the issue.
Rather than say: “Who’s at fault?” maybe we should first ask: “What’s at fault?”
Right there and then, the paradigm shifts from outright blame to a study of the circumstances behind any incident.
- “What, instead of who, started the pandemic?”
- “What, instead of who, brought about the spread of the virus?”
- “What, instead of who, caused the delay in deliveries of needed supplies for the restaurant?”
- “What, instead of who, led to the enterprise’s poor sales performance?”
- “What, instead of who, did we do wrong that our team didn’t make the playoffs?”
Just by substituting “Who” with “What,” our frame of mind, even our attitude and feelings, change. Our ill feelings toward a suspect diminish. We switch from witch-hunters to problem-solvers.
When a problem strikes, it may be good to take a deep breath, get our thoughts together, and remind ourselves to start asking questions with “What” before “Who.”
One word can really make a difference.