Tag Archives: blame

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problem solving blame

Problem Solving Blame and the Root Cause

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Knowing the problem and the solution are two different things. Getting to the root cause is often another stumbling block. How are you managing problem solving blame?

This coffee tastes terrible. It must be the brand.

I tried their website. It must be down.

My house plant died. I guess I forgot to water it.

It’s easy to make assumptions. In many cases we label that problem solving.

Many people take great pride in their ability to solve problems in the workplace or in even in their everyday lives.

Problem solving skills are valuable and make a significant difference for quality, productivity, and customer satisfaction.

Problem Assumptions

Are the assumptions ever wrong?

Certainly, they are.

Getting the solution to the problem correct is critical. Getting to the root cause, well, that is also critical.

There are lots of reasons for bad coffee. Too long sitting on the burner, too strong, too weak, or perhaps something that was added. The brand may be perfectly fine.

A down website doesn’t mean it is a bad design, it also doesn’t mean that it is not working for everyone. Could be the connection, your browser, or even your own connectivity.

House plants sometimes die. A lack of water may not be the only reason. Throwing your arms up and suggesting that you aren’t good with plants may be an excuse.

When you problem solve, who or what gets blamed?

Problem Solving Blame

While we recognize that circumstances and situations will vary. We should also recognize that solutions and blame are not always connected or accurate.

If your cell phone didn’t charge overnight, is it the phone, the battery, the charger, the outlet, or was there a power outage? Was the cable appropriately plugged in?

Did someone else unplug it?

Getting to the root cause will matter. It may also take some time, some testing, and having a little more patience.

Before you make your next guess about who or what to blame, consider the importance of resolution. Stop blaming and solve it at the root.

Isn’t that what everyone wants?


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 Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

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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 Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

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service promises matter customer appreciative

Why Customer Service Promises Matter

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Yes, it is true, the customer typically wants to be right. Your image and brand are critically important for continued success. What is sometimes surprising is how little businesses understand why customer service promises matter.

Certainly, it isn’t everyone, but when something goes wrong many people are looking for someone else to blame. When you’ve promised something to your customer and you don’t deliver you probably will make them look bad. Who will they blame?

Your brand, your image, what people believe or understand about the transaction will have a lot to do with the outcomes. It doesn’t always mean it is the correct impression or understanding, but it might be what they understand.

Ordering a Whopper at McDonald’s might be a misunderstanding or a simple mistake, but expecting your sandwich to be warm is a promise.

Service Promises Matter

Have you thought about your customer service promises? Those that are spoken, written, or otherwise assumed by your customer to be delivered by you? Have you considered how policies, procedures, and pricing affect loyalty?

Here are a few things to consider when you ask yourself about customer loyalty and living up to brand promise:

  • Giving new customers a price break to sign on while loyal customers pay more.
  • Insisting that the warranty is the warranty even when the difference is very narrow.
  • Encouraging a buy new, never fix, approach with products or services.
  • Assume the customer is not smart enough and speak with them that way.
  • Refuse to negotiate when in the past you always have.
  • Forcing features or specifications that your customer must now pay more for.
  • Fixing software bugs and selling them as an upgrade.

This list can quickly become very long. The difference for many promises is based on emotion. It is what the customer feels—or doesn’t.

What Customers Feel

How you make your customer feel will have a lot to do with the future of your relationship. Certainly nearly every situation is unique but word travels fast and a negative word even faster.

Do you believe customer service promises matter? You should, because your customers do.


Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

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