Blame is the act of censuring, holding responsible, making negative statements about an individual or group that their action or actions are socially or morally irresponsible, the opposite of praise.

Some systems theorists and management consultants, such as Jerry Weinberg, see the flow of blame in an organization as one of the most important indicators of that organization's robustness and integrity. Blame flowing upwards in a hierarchy, Weinberg argues, proves that superiors can take responsibility for their orders to their inferiors, and supply them with the resources required to do their jobs. But blame flowing downwards, from management to staff, or laterally between professionals, indicate organizational failure. In a blame culture, problem-solving is replaced by blame-avoidance. Weinberg emphasizes that blame coming from the top generates "fear, malaise, errors, accidents, and passive-aggressive responses from the bottom", with those at the bottom feeling powerless and lacking emotional safety.

  • Blaming usually fools people who are unsophisticated, or whose own self-esteem is at a low ebb. The knowledgeable observer, however, sees the amount of blaming as a sure measure of how inadequate the blamer feels. Moreover, if blaming is the preferred project communication style, then it becomes a measure of how far an environment has degenerated–how little communication is being directed at the project’s issues, compared to the amount that is being directed to puffing up the communicator’s weak self-esteem.

May cope through Placating. Virginia Satir developed what she called survival stances to demonstrate how people cope with problems. The four survival stances are placating, blaming, being super-reasonable, and being irrelevant. She thought that these stances developed through people’s lives from childhood from a state of low self-worth, low self-esteem and imbalance, in which people give their power to someone or something else. People adopt survival stances to protect their self-worth against verbal and nonverbal, perceived and presumed threats.

Guilt-Shame-Fear Culture model

  • sorting them according to the emotions they use to control individuals (especially children) and maintaining social order, swaying them into norm obedience and conformity
  • This post shows how the guilt-shame-fear paradigm compares to other well-known cultural models.
  • honor culture, dignity culture, and face culture. These cultures all deal with the concept of self-worth and how to preserve it when interacting with other people. It seems most countries or regions, possibly all, have one of these cultures, or sometimes a mix of them. In a broad categorization, we find honor culture in most parts of the world while dignity culture (often called guilt culture) is confined to Northwest Europe and the Anglosphere, and face culture to East Asia.
  • every culture can be evaluated as a mix of Honor-Shame, Guilt-Innocence, and Power-Fear worldviews
    • The label “fear-power culture” has various meanings, depending on the perspective of the speaker. This posts explains the three ways people have defined “fear-power culture.”
  • The problem comes when we want to simply classify cultures into these three basic classifications. They do not easily fit, because they are made up of blends of all three.

Popularly, shame and guilt are understood almost exclusively in their conscious forms. Professionally, we know that guilt is primarily unconscious, but the extent to which everyone is controlled by shame is much less familiar. Shame works subtly, silently, and swiftly—in a word, reflexively. This seems to be why the study of shame has appeared relatively late on the psychotherapeutic scene, although it is the key to ego analysis.

3 Ways To Kill Your Company’s Idea-Stifling Shame Culture

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