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But its not my fault!

By February 4, 2015Advice

I ran out of gas! I got a flat Tyre! I didn’t have change for a cab fare! I lost my tux at the cleaners! I locked my keys in the car! An old friend came in from out of town! There was an earthquake! A terrible flood! Locusts! IT WASN”T MY FAULT I SWEAR!” Jake Blues

We’ve all heard (and perhaps made)excuses like these, when the consequences of action or inaction are about to descend. The temptation is Jake Bluesalways to blame outside factors rather than any shortcoming on our part.

There are actually two other possibilities, which we at times try to ignore

1. Its OUR fault
2. Its NOBODY’S fault

Recognising these as perfectly acceptable alternatives, and not trying to assign blame to someone else on every occasion that something goes wrong, we are able to more easily resolve the difficulty we are facing and move forward.

1. It is Our Fault

Let’s be honest, sometimes it just is. Nobody’s perfect, we all make mistakes, and we have to be prepared to accept responsibility when we do.

This is especially true when considering stuff that might happen to our clients or customers. Professional integrity demands that if we make a mistake which is costly to our client, that we rectify the damage and compensate for any losses incurred. Failure to do so is like driving off in the shopping centre carpark after you reversed into someone’s car.

In my experience, admitting to an error and going through the rectify/compensate process can actually lead to a positive outcome in the way of a continued relationship , and an experience that your customer will talk about in a positive way to their friends and relatives. On the other hand trying to avoid blame can only lead to loss of a client and negative publicity.

There is also a tendency to be dismissive of legitimate complaint. “Oh, he’s just a whinger, always complaining” This is just an attempt to shift blame back to the victim. If there was no damage, nothing to complain about, then it couldn’t by our fault could it?

2. It’s NOBODY’s fault

We can’t really be held responsible for things outside of our control (despite the best efforts of the regulators in certain quarters). Bad stuff happens, and unless we either contributed to it, or failed to avoid it by inaction, then it shouldn’t be said to be our fault. Further to this though it might be NOBODY’s fault. We’ve all heard of dire consequences of natural disaster being tn_213blues_brothers-155blamed on council or the government or the fire brigade. In the end there are times, when nothing could be done to prevent bad stuff from impacting, and nothing could be done without a crystal ball (let me know if you have one I’d like to borrow it) to avoid the consequences of the impact.

This can get quite delicate at times. Whilst it may not be a general insurance broker’s fault that a bush fire broke out for example, it could be his fault that he did not advise his client of the need to take out adequate cover to protect himself from the consequences of the fire, particularly if the client lives in a fire prone area. It could be said that a financial adviser could be responsible if he failed to advise of the need for life cover. Where we need to draw the line in my view though, is holding people responsible for failure to predict the future, particularly where the likelihood of occurrence is low, or where the timing is completely uncertain.

We can of course exercise our judgement as to whether the “Rectify/Compensate” process should be gone through, even if bad stuff is not our fault, or nobody’s fault, and sometimes this is just the right thing to do.


As professionals, we need to stand up and be counted. If something is our fault we need to accept it, and do what we can to restore the damage. We must not fall into the trap of trying to avoid or shift blame, for me this is part of professional DNA. We also need to be mindful that others will attempt to shift blame on to us, even where we could not possibly have foreseen an event occurring, much less taken steps to avoid it. In the end, some things are just nobody’s fault, there is no blame, bad stuff just happens sometimes.

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