Managing Situations, Who Should We Blame?

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managing situations

Managing Situations, Who Should We Blame?

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How are you managing situations?

How far is it into your day until something goes wrong? Is it before you leave your home, on your commute to work, or maybe it is once inside the door but before you get to your work area?

Certainly, sometimes things can get a little frustrating. We have a game plan for how our day is going to go and it seems like before we get started someone throws a wrench in our spokes.

When situations arise who should we blame? Perhaps a better question is, “What should we blame?”

Fundamental Attribution Error

Conducting conflict seminars can be fun. Yes, it is true. Sometimes I hear the most interesting stories and workplace scenarios that are almost unbelievable. Of course, some of these stories may be embellished and dramatized, but they still may have validity.

In psychology there is a term or phrase, fundamental attribution error (FAE). It is also known as, correspondence bias.

You can look up an official definition. In simple terms, it is the belief that the things people do are because of their personality, not the situation.

Managing Situations

For example, at the highway construction zone, someone aborts the posted signs to form a single lane and tries to zoom to the front of the congestion. Essentially, they are cutting the line, seemingly without care about other motorists.

Here is another example that may be even more behavioral. The boss is short with you when you ask a question, then he or she immediately responds to a different question in a much calmer and relaxed manner to another employee.

We may immediately think, “What a jerk!” What we often don’t take into consideration is that the situation they are dealing with right at this moment may be affecting their behavior.

When we are feeling an emerging conflict with others in our workplace, perhaps we should carefully consider the situation before giving them a label.


Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

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