It’s time to flip the switch on credit and blame. They’ve been fooling us for way too long.

Some things we want to take, and some things we want to give away. Some make sense, and some don’t.

In most cases, though, we should be doing the opposite — keeping the things we want to give away, and giving away that which we want to keep. But how will we know?

Need for blame = Need to escape responsibility.

When we place blame, are we solving anything other than our own need to offload our responsibility — and our guilt?

From the time we’re little, we indulge in something a bit evil, a bit wrong — it’s called placing blame. If I recall childhood correctly enough, a child’s favorite line is “It wasn’t me!” The problem is we carry this indulgence forward for much of our lives. Whether it’s on your co-founder or a summer intern, placing the blame on others becomes the go-to escape from feeling any kind of responsibility.

What is most worrisome about how quickly we learn to place blame instead of taking the blame ourselves is the implications it has on our ability to grow and succeed later on in life. It’s probably one of the biggest impediments we face — we just don’t even know it.

Is placing the blame on others truly an escape from responsibility? Probably not. We might think we can point the finger and automatically free ourselves, but it’s the expectations of others (our friends, our family, our employees) that truly set our levels of responsibility. Pointing the finger has no bearing on this whatsoever.

Need to take credit = need to feel important.

Ah, blame’s golden brother — credit. See, the problem with credit is similar to the problem with blame — you can take it or give it.

Making the choice between taking credit and giving says a lot about a person’s character, but also their need to feel important.

As I mentioned in opening this post, the very times when we want to take credit is probably when we should most be giving it to others. Or is it?

A person who tries to take the credit for that which they are not responsible is trying to inflate their ego and calm their fears and insecurities. A person who freely gives credit to others is helping build others up instead of building themselves. They are being generous and giving in boosting confidences of others, not just themselves.

How would that change things — in both your personal and professional life? How would it feel to let go of the need to feel better than or the need to prove something?

What if we dared to do the opposite?

We’ve all been in situations with harsh criticism, whether it be from investors or customers. We’ve also probably been in situations where somehow some kind of amazing success is handed to us, credit given to us without rhyme or reason.

Business can be a depressing low or an incredible high, but we have no real control over that.

What we do have control over is how we take these events and apply the right take or give strategy. If it’s credit, are you giving it? If it’s blame, are you taking it?

The Skull: This person credits themselves, but blames others — why would you ever do that? This person is the worst combination to have. Whether it’s your boss or your friend, you should probably let anyone that displays this kind of behavior know that you are onto them — and that it isn’t very healthy. Taking credit for the work of others but blaming them when things go wrong… Flee, pronto!

The Slippery Slope: This person credits themselves and blames themselves, too. Sounds like a hotbed of insecurity. Not only do they seek validation in giving themselves credit, but they are also insecure enough to blame themselves when things go wrong. I imagine this person as trying to springboard themselves to the next level but still insecure in their own capabilities and weaknesses. Watch out for this type of person because they’re a slippery slope away from becoming a Skull.

The Land Mine: This person credits others and blames others, too. I call this person the Land Mine because you never really know when things could go badly. Sure, they’re generous with credit, but this person is also generous with blame — and how will you really know whether you’re getting the positive or the negative stash? Careful with this dynamic persona. It could get ugly!

The Cheerleader: This person credits others, but blames themselves. This person is gold. If you’ve found one of these as a boss, friend, lover, or mentor — hold on tight and never let go. This person will give you credit when it’s due (and maybe when it’s not due) and will blame themselves when things go wrong. They understand the value in a good team, and they understand that there is no “offloading” responsibility and guilt. If things go wrong, they understand that they could’ve done more to help. I repeat, this kind of person is gold.

I’ve been lucky enough in my life to find lots of cheerleaders on my path — but I’ve also been blessed with the guidance to steer clear of the Skulls and Land Mines along the way.

Taking and giving both blame and credit is such a complex and delicate issue — but we haven’t even really stopped to notice! Humans default to giving blame away and taking credit, but perhaps it’s the opposite we should be doing.

I wonder what business as usual would be like if we dared to do the opposite of all I have described above. Trust me, it’d be harder — but would it be better?

Bio: Marcella Chamorro just released a book on authenticity in marketing, titled To Be or Like to Be, and she also writes for her blog on lifestyle & marketing. She is a blogger, speaker, and consultant based in Managua, Nicaragua, working on creating technologies to help people be more creative. Email: