Management consultant Del Poling is a genius. Poling uses the term 4-year-old behavior or passive dependence to describe those who don’t and won’t take responsibility for their actions or always blame others if something goes wrong. Del liked to point out that if you walked into a room and found a cup of juice was spilled and the only person in the room is a four-year-old, typically the child would respond to the question, “who spilled the juice,” by saying “I don’t know.”
Passive dependency is not limited to 4-year-olds. Adults tend not to take responsibility or blame others. Just look at the political races going on at the current time. Everyone else is at fault for inflation, lack of immigration policy, wage inequality and other challenges that we face. We blame our kids for our gray hair and elevated stress. We blame our suppliers for not doing what they said they would do or not caring about what they do. Blame is everywhere. Accountability is limited.
When mistakes occur, they can be assets or liabilities. The cost increases every time you point the finger of blame at someone else. The damage is minimized when you take ownership of the problem even if the causes are beyond your control. Your clients are much more likely to forgive if you take ownership and are accountable. Most people will appreciate your nobleness. Whatever the consequence of the problem will be deserved, but when you become proactive, those consequences tend to be less severe.