Responsibility delegation does not always have to be up to you

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The Art of Delegation

Read the text and be ready to answer the questions.

Reading

Vocabulary

The Art of Delegation

1. Read and remember the following words and word-combinations:

1. to dump – выбрасывать, сваливать 2. subordinate – подчиненный, низший по чину, второстепенный 3. authority –власть, полномочие, авторитет, достоверный источник 4. discretion – осмотрительность, благоразумие, усмотрение, полномочия 5. relevant – относящийся к делу, уместный 6. rapid access – быстрый доступ 7. flow of information – поток информации 8. staggered development – дифференцированное развитие 9. outcome – результат, исход, последствие 10. to delegate – делегировать, передавать полномочие, поручать работу 11. to relinquish – оставлять, сдавать 12. remainder – остаток, остальные (pl.) 13. negotiation – обсуждение, переговоры 14. praise – похвала 15. reprimand – выговор, замечание 16. promotion – продвижение, повышение, поощрение, поддержка, содействие

2. Match the columns:

1. dynamic tool a. цель делегирования
2. the nature of the task b. работать успешно
3. to operate successfully c. природа задачи
4. daunting task d. отправная точка
5. to lose control e. осуществимая процедура
6. appropriate monitoring f. формирование команды
7. starting point g. терять контроль
8. criteria of success h. устрашающая задача
9. workable procedure i. соответствующий контроль
10. team – building j. отчет о работе
11. performance review k. критерии успеха
12. the objective of delegation l. динамический инструмент

3. Form derivatives according to the models:

A→Adv (-ly) V→N(-tion)
Potential – Successful – Rapid – True – Gradual – Severe – Actual – General – Primary – Personal – Delegate – Promote – Innovate – Communicate – Construct – Inform – Situate – Instruct – Distribute – Motivate –

4. In each column find the word with the more general meaning:

staff authorities subordinates
task job work
success experience failure
managerial role training motivation

Delegation is a skill of which we have all heard – but which few understand. It can be used either as an excuse for dumping failure onto the shoulders of subordinates, or as a dynamic tool for motivating and training your team to realize their full potential.

The objective of delegation is to get the job done by yourself. Not just the simple tasks of reading instructions and turning a lever, but also the decision making and changes which depend upon new information.

Such a system can only operate successfully if the decision-makers (your staff) have full and rapid access to the relevant information. This means that you must establish a system to enable the flow of information. This must at least include regular exchanges between your staff so that each is aware of what the others are doing.

One of the main phobias about delegation is that by giving others authority, a manager loses control. This need not be the case. If you train your staff to apply the same criteria as you would yourself (by example and full explanations) then they will be exercising your control on you behalf. In engineering terms: if maintaining control is truly your concern, then you should distribute the control mechanisms to enable parallel and autonomous processing.

To understand delegation, you really have to think about people. Delegation cannot be viewed as an abstract technique, it doesn’t depends upon individuals and individual needs.

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The key is to delegate gradually. If you present someone with a task which is daunting, one with which he/she does not feel able to cope, then the task will not be done and your staff will be severely demotivated. Instead you should build-up gradually; first a small task leading to a little development, then another small task which builds upon the first; when that is achieved, add another stage; and so on. This is the difference between asking people to scale a sheer wall, and providing them with a staircase. Each task delegated should have enough complexity to stretch that member of staff – but only a little.

When you delegate a job, it does not have to be done as well as you could do it (given time), but only as well as necessary: never judge the outcome by what you expect you would do (it is difficult to be objective about that), but rather by fitness for purpose. When you delegate a task, agree then upon the criteria and standards by which the outcome will be judged.

You must enable failure. With appropriate monitoring, you should be able to catch mistakes before they are catastrophic; if not, then the failure is yours.

There is always the question of what to delegate and what to do yourself, and you must take a long term view on this: you want to delegate as much as possible to develop you staff to be as good as you are now.

The starting point is to consider the activities you used to do before you were promoted. Tasks in which you have experience are the easiest for you to explain to others and so to train them to take over.

Tasks in which your staff have more experience must be delegated to them. This does not mean that you relinquish responsibility because they are expert, but it does mean that the default decision should be theirs.

Decisions are a normal managerial function: these too should be delegated – especially if they are important to the staff. In practice, you will need to establish the boundaries of these decisions so that you can live with the outcome, but this will only take you a little time while the delegation of the remainder of the task will save you much more.

Since delegation is about handing over authority, you cannot dictate what is delegated nor how that delegation is to be managed. To control the delegation, you need to establish at the beginning the task itself, the reporting schedule, the sources of information, your availability, and the criteria of success. These you must negotiate with your staff: only by obtaining both their input and their agreement can you hope to arrive at a workable procedure.

There are managerial functions which you should never delegate – these are the personal/personnel ones which are often the most obvious additions to your responsibilities as you assume a managerial role. Specifically, they include: motivation, training, team-building, organization, praising, reprimanding, performance reviews, promotion.

As a manager, you have a responsibility to represent and to develop the effectiveness of your group within the company; these are tasks you can expand to fill your available time – delegation is a mechanism for creating that opportunity.

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Successful Delegation

Using the Power of Other People’s Help

Accomplish a lot more by delegating.

How to Delegate

Start by specifying the outcome you desire to the people you trust to deliver it. Establish controls, identify limits to the work and provide sufficient support, but resist upward delegation. Keep up to date with progress, and focus on results rather than procedures. Finally, when the work is completed, give recognition where it’s deserved.

Even “Super You” needs help and support. There is no shame in asking for assistance. Push aside the pride and show respect for the talent others can bring to the table.

And, remember that there is no such thing as a single-handed success: when you include and acknowledge all those in your corner, you propel yourself, your teammates and your supporters to greater heights.

Do you feel stressed and overloaded? Or that your career seems stalled? If so, then you may need to brush up your delegation skills!

If you work on your own, there’s only a limited amount that you can do, however hard you work. You can only work so many hours in a day. There are only so many tasks you can complete in these hours. There are only so many people you can help by doing these tasks. And, because the number of people you can help is limited, your success is limited.

However, if you’re good at your job, people will want much more than this from you. This can lead to a real sense of pressure and work overload: you can’t do everything that everyone wants, and this can leave you stressed, unhappy, and feeling that you’re letting people down.

On the positive side, however, you’re being given a tremendous opportunity if you can find a way around this limitation. If you can realize this opportunity, you can be genuinely successful!

One of the most common ways of overcoming this limitation is to learn how to delegate your work to other people. If you do this well, you can quickly build a strong and successful team of people, well able to meet the demands that others place. This is why delegation is such an important skill, and is one that you absolutely have to learn!

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Why People Don’t Delegate

To figure out how to delegate properly, it’s important to understand why people avoid it. Quite simply, people don’t delegate because it takes a lot of up-front effort.

After all, which is easier: designing and writing content for a brochure that promotes a new service you helped spearhead, or having other members of your team do it? You know the content inside and out. You can spew benefit statements in your sleep. It would be relatively straightforward for you to sit down and write it. It would even be fun! The question is, “Would it be a good use of your time?”

While on the surface it’s easier to do it yourself than explain the strategy behind the brochure to someone else, there are two key reasons that mean that it’s probably better to delegate the task to someone else:

  • First, if you have the ability to spearhead a new campaign, the chances are that your skills are better used further developing the strategy, and perhaps coming up with other new ideas. By doing the work yourself, you’re failing to make the best use of your time.
  • Second, by meaningfully involving other people in the project, you develop those people’s skills and abilities. This means that next time a similar project comes along, you can delegate the task with a high degree of confidence that it will be done well, with much less involvement from you.

Delegation allows you to make the best use of your time and skills, and it helps other people in the team grow and develop to reach their full potential in the organization.

When to Delegate

Delegation is a win-win when done appropriately, however, that does not mean that you can delegate just anything. To determine when delegation is most appropriate there are five key questions you need to ask yourself:

  • Is there someone else who has (or can be given) the necessary information or expertise to complete the task? Essentially is this a task that someone else can do, or is it critical that you do it yourself?
  • Does the task provide an opportunity to grow and develop another person’s skills?
  • Is this a task that will recur, in a similar form, in the future?
  • Do you have enough time to delegate the job effectively? Time must be available for adequate training, for questions and answers, for opportunities to check progress, and for rework if that is necessary.
  • Is this a task that I should delegate? Tasks critical for long-term success (for example, recruiting the right people for your team) genuinely do need your attention.

If you can answer “yes” to at least some of the above questions, then it could well be worth delegating this job.

Other factors that contribute to the delegability of a task include:

  1. The project’s timelines/deadlines.
    • How much time is there available to do the job?
    • Is there time to redo the job if it’s not done properly the first time?
    • What are the consequences of not completing the job on time?
  2. Your expectations or goals for the project or task(s), including:
    • How important is it that the results are of the highest possible quality?
    • Is an “adequate” result good enough?
    • Would a failure be crucial?
    • How much would failure impact other things?

That being said, having all these conditions present is no guarantee that the delegated task will be completed successfully either. You also need to consider to whom you will delegate the task and how you will do it.

The Who and How of Delegating

Having decided to delegate a task there are some other factors to consider as well. As you think these through you can use our free Delegation Log worksheet to keep record of the tasks you choose to delegate and who you want to delegate them to.

To Whom Should You Delegate?

The factors to consider here include:

  1. The experience, knowledge and skills of the individual as they apply to the delegated task.
    • What knowledge, skills and attitude does the person already have?
    • Do you have time and resources to provide any training needed?
  2. The individual’s preferred work style.
    • How independent is the person?
    • What does he or she want from his or her job?
    • What are his or her long-term goals and interests, and how do these align with the work proposed?
  3. The current workload of this person.
    • Does the person have time to take on more work?
    • Will you delegating this task require reshuffling of other responsibilities and workloads?

When you first start to delegate to someone, you may notice that he or she takes longer than you do to complete tasks. This is because you are an expert in the field and the person you have delegated to is still learning. Be patient: if you have chosen the right person to delegate to, and you are delegating correctly, you will find that he or she quickly becomes competent and reliable.

How Should You Delegate?

Use the following principles to delegate successfully:

  1. Clearly articulate the desired outcome. Begin with the end in mind and specify the desired results.
  2. Clearly identify constraints and boundaries. Where are the lines of authority, responsibility and accountability? Should the person:
    • Wait to be told what to do?
    • Ask what to do?
    • Recommend what should be done, and then act?
    • Act, and then report results immediately?
    • Initiate action, and then report periodically?
  3. Where possible, include people in the delegation process. Empower them to decide what tasks are to be delegated to them and when.
  4. Match the amount of responsibility with the amount of authority. Understand that you can delegate some responsibility, however you can’t delegate away ultimate accountability. The buck stops with you!
  5. Delegate to the lowest possible organizational level. The people who are closest to the work are best suited for the task, because they have the most intimate knowledge of the detail of everyday work. This also increases workplace efficiency, and helps to develop people.
  6. Provide adequate support, and be available to answer questions. Ensure the project’s success through ongoing communication and monitoring as well as provision of resources and credit.
  7. Focus on results. Concern yourself with what is accomplished, rather than detailing how the work should be done: Your way is not necessarily the only or even the best way! Allow the person to control his or her own methods and processes. This facilitates success and trust.
  8. Avoid “upward delegation.” If there is a problem, don’t allow the person to shift responsibility for the task back to you: ask for recommended solutions; and don’t simply provide an answer.
  9. Build motivation and commitment. Discuss how success will impact financial rewards, future opportunities, informal recognition, and other desirable consequences. Provide recognition where deserved.
  10. Establish and maintain control.
    • Discuss timelines and deadlines.
    • Agree on a schedule of checkpoints at which you’ll review project progress.
    • Make adjustments as necessary.
    • Take time to review all submitted work.

In thoroughly considering these key points prior to and during the delegation process you will find that you delegate more successfully.

Keeping Control

Now, once you have worked through the above steps, make sure you brief your team member appropriately. Take time to explain why they were chosen for the job, what’s expected from them during the project, the goals you have for the project, all timelines and deadlines and the resources on which they can draw. And agree a schedule for checking-in with progress updates.

Lastly, make sure that the team member knows that you want to know if any problems occur, and that you are available for any questions or guidance needed as the work progresses.

We all know that as managers, we shouldn’t micromanage. However, this doesn’t mean we must abdicate control altogether: In delegating effectively, we have to find the sometimes-difficult balance between giving enough space for people to use their abilities to best effect, while still monitoring and supporting closely enough to ensure that the job is done correctly and effectively.

The Importance of Full Acceptance

When delegated work is delivered back to you, set aside enough time to review it thoroughly. If possible, only accept good quality, fully-complete work. If you accept work you are not satisfied with, your team member does not learn to do the job properly. Worse than this, you accept a whole new tranche of work that you will probably need to complete yourself. Not only does this overload you, it means that you don’t have the time to do your own job properly.

Of course, when good work is returned to you, make sure to both recognize and reward the effort. As a leader, you should get in the practice of complimenting members of your team every time you are impressed by what they have done. This effort on your part will go a long way toward building team member’s self-confidence and efficiency, both of which will be improved on the next delegated task; hence, you both win.

Key Points

At first sight, delegation can feel like more hassle than it’s worth, however by delegating effectively, you can hugely expand the amount of work that you can deliver.

When you arrange the workload so that you are working on the tasks that have the highest priority for you, and other people are working on meaningful and challenging assignments, you have a recipe for success.

To delegate effectively, choose the right tasks to delegate, identify the right people to delegate to, and delegate in the right way. There’s a lot to this, but you’ll achieve so much more once you’re delegating effectively!

Check how effectively you’re delegating now with our “How Well Do You Delegate?” quiz.

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How to Delegate Tasks Effectively (and Why It’s Important)

One of my favorite Olympic sports to watch is track relay. The runners make blindly reaching for a baton at 20 mph while staying in their lanes look incredibly easy. But in truth, what they’re doing is extremely difficult. And it’s a lot like delegating effectively.

Delegating sounds easy—and others who can do it well make it look easy—but passing the baton effectively requires a lot of trust, communication, and coordination. Still, if you learn how to delegate—and you do it well—everyone on your team wins.

Table of Contents:

Why Is It Important to Delegate?

As a leader, delegating is important because you can’t—and shouldn’t—do everything yourself. Delegating empowers your team, builds trust, and assists with professional development. And for leaders, it helps you learn how to identify who is best suited to tackle tasks or projects.

Of course, delegating tasks can lighten your workload, but according to Dr. Scott Williams, professor of management at Wright State University, delegating does much more than just get stuff off your plate.

For one, the people who work for you will be able to develop new skills and gain knowledge, which prepares them for more responsibility in the future.

“Delegation can also be a clear sign that you respect your subordinates’ abilities and that you trust their discretion,” Williams writes. “Employees who feel that they are trusted and respected tend to have a higher level of commitment to their work, their organization, and, especially, their managers.”

Why Managers Fail to Delegate

While the benefits of delegating are obvious and plentiful, many managers still fail to delegate effectively. The reality is that there are several myths and misconceptions about delegating that can make some leaders wary of handing off work to others.

They think delegating is just passing off work to someone else

“Managers often mistake delegation for passing off work,” writes Harvey Mackay, founder of MackayMitchell Envelope Co. “So they don’t do it, and they wind up wasting their time as well as the company’s time and resources.”

Delegation can be a chance to make workloads more manageable, but more than that, it can provide really valuable teaching opportunities for your employees, Mackay notes.

Delegation is not a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of a strong leader.

They think they can do it better

One study found that two psychological processes make people more reluctant to delegate work:

  • the self-enhancement effect, which is a manager’s tendency to evaluate a work product more highly the more involved he/she is in its production
  • the faith in supervision effect, which is when people have a tendency to think work performed under the control of a supervisor is better than work performed without as much supervision

Watch for those biases in your work. They could be a sign that you need to focus on building more trust within your team.

They’re nervous about letting go

Letting go can be challenging, but accepting that you can’t do everything yourself is important.

“Giving up being ‘the go-to expert’ takes tremendous confidence and perspective even in the healthiest environments,” says Carol Walker, president of Prepared to Lead—a consulting firm that focuses on developing young leaders.

Remind yourself that your team wants to do good work and be successful just like you do. If your employees succeed, you succeed.

“I’ve learned that people will seldom let you down if they understand that your destiny is in their hands—and vice versa,” says Mackay.

They’re worried delegating will take longer than just doing the work

Another common barrier to delegation is that it can take longer to teach someone else how to do a task than to just do it yourself.

And while that might be true the first time you delegate the task, over time, the amount of time you have to dedicate to that task decreases because you won’t have to be involved with it at all.

Imagine that it will take you eight hours to walk someone through a task you have to complete every week. Typically, it takes you an hour to complete the task.

Once eight weeks have passed after you’ve trained someone else to do the task for you, you’ll have recouped the time you spent on training and now have an extra hour each week.

With that extra hour, you can focus on more important work, such as strategy, coaching, or development—the things leaders are supposed to do.

How to Determine When Delegating is Appropriate

Another common barrier to delegation is that leaders aren’t sure which tasks they should and shouldn’t be delegating. In every manager’s workload—particularly new managers—there are likely tasks that you should do and tasks that you should delegate.

Career and business strategist Jenny Blake recommends conducting an audit of your tasks using the rules below to find out which of your tasks should be delegated:

  • Tiny: Tiny tasks are little things that only take a small amount of time to complete but add up over time. These might be things an assistant could do: scheduling meetings, booking flights for business trips, or deleting spam/marketing emails from your inbox.
  • Tedious: Tedious tasks are mindless tasks, such as copying and pasting lead information from your marketing automation tool to your CRM. Tedious tasks require little skill and can be easily delegated.
  • Time-consuming: Time-consuming tasks are opportunities to break work into smaller chunks and delegate portions of the work to others. If you perform a task regularly that takes a lot of time, look for opportunities to hand off segments of that task to others.
  • Teachable: Do you have tasks on your plate that you could easily teach someone else to complete? If a task is entirely teachable—if it does not require expertise that only you can provide—it’s a worthwhile candidate for delegation.
  • Terrible at: Maybe you have no design skills, so it takes you six times as long to create graphics for your blog posts as it would a professional designer. It’s better to delegate that task to someone who’s more equipped to do the work quickly and well.
  • Time-sensitive: Maybe it would be better if you handled all of the tasks belonging to a time-sensitive project, but if you won’t have time to complete it doing it all on your own, it’s time to find ways to delegate parts of that task to other members of your team.

Additionally, you may need to consider delegating tasks you love doing but are no longer part of your job.

If you recently moved into a leadership role, you may have pet projects from your days as an individual contributor, but if it’s now someone else’s job to complete those tasks, it’s time to delegate and teach that person how to do it for you.

Responsibility: Being a responsible person makes you feel good

A useful guide to responsibility: What it is, what does it mean to be a responsible person, how does it benefits us, how I can be a more responsible person. Discover the difference between responsibility and guilt, and everything you need to know about social responsibility.

What do we mean by responsibility? If you stop to think, this concept, surely, has been hovering over our heads since we’re kids. Almost from the moment, you get to decide whether to follow the rules and obey or “challenge authority” (mom and dad) we have heard the words “You have to be responsible”.

If you ask a child what it means to be responsible, he or she will say something like “do the right thing,””do what Mom and Dad say,””do my homework”. Adults use the term responsibility to make children understand and assume that they must behave well and do the tasks adults request of them.

Do you think the term responsibility involves more than just obligations? What comes to your mind when you think of responsibility?

Table of Contents

What is a responsibility? Definition

If we look at the etymological origin, the meaning of responsibility is not so much related to the tasks performed or the obligations, but rather with commitment involved.

Becoming a responsible person means being able to consciously make decisions, conduct behaviors that seek to improve oneself and/or help others. Most importantly, a responsible person accepts the consequences of his or her own actions and decisions.

The word responsibility comes from the Latin “responsum” (the one who is forced to answer to someone else). The verbs “Respondere and Spondere” are closely related and were widely used in the legal field. The first meant defending or justifying a fact in a trial and the second meant swearing, promising or assuming an obligation.

Therefore, we can define a responsible person as one who accepts the results of the decisions he or she makes. Oxford dictionary defines responsibility as:”The state or fact of being accountable or to blame for something.

This definition of responsibility emphasizes the need for the person to comply with the negative consequences of his or her actions.

From what we can see, it is a term that has different evaluations and can be quite abstract, but we use it regularly in our daily lives.

Responsibility: What is the point?

Being responsible brings us many benefits. It can help you achieve your goals and objectives in any area of your life. Responsibility allows you to create principles, morals and helps you to lead your life. Being a responsible person helps us to:

  • Be more honest: When we tend to tell the truth and keep our promises, the people around us will believe us and see us as an honest person.
  • Be more independent: Assuming the consequences of our actions will help us make better decisions.
  • Be more reliable: By being responsible, we gain other’s trust and we will also gain confidence in ourselves. Doing the right thing will make us feel good. And even if we are wrong, we will be satisfied because we know that we have done our best.

The value of responsibility

Responsibility is taught from childhood. Both in families and in schools, the aim is to educate in values and morals.

It is clear that everyone wants a committed and responsible partner, responsible children who don’t get into trouble, responsible parents and teachers who take care of the children, professionals who do their work responsibly. Why is that?

Because having people like that around us generates confidence, gives us security. We think,”yes, he is a responsible person, he will do it and things will work out. Feeling safe is one of the basic necessities in Maslow’s pyramid.

This is one of the reasons why in our society, responsibility is so positively and highly valued because it gives us security, confidence, and a certain stability.

How can I be more responsible?

There is no magic formula that makes us more responsible. However, responsibility can be trained.

If you want to fulfill your purposes, your obligations, and commitments, what you need is, to a large extent, predisposition and motivation. Now, if you’re still reading this then it’s a sign that you do want to be more responsible so here are some guidelines for you:

  1. Set goals: It’s important to know what we do things for. Having a sense and direction helps us to be consistent and to continue to do our duty. If you think the goal is too long term, set small goals to achieve it. I advise you to write them down. It sounds silly, but putting it on paper makes them real. Writing your goals can help you be more responsible!
  2. Objectivity: What is under my control or up to me and what is not? Make a list of the things that depend on you and you can control them. Your attention must be directed to those aspects, for what does not depend on you is not your responsibility.
  3. Routines: If it takes a lot of effort to “get dressed”, it’s best to get organized. If you have a routine, you’ll know what to do at every moment. But not only that, sometimes, knowing how much time you have to put in the effort also helps. “Come on, it’s only an hour of study before I go to the movies!”
  4. Rewards: Internal attributions come into play here. If you’ve reached what you set out to do, why not admit it? It’s your moment, give yourself a pat on the back.
  5. Be honest with yourself: Have you failed, was it something that you could control? Take responsibility, assume the consequences and analyze what you could have done differently, how would you improve for another time?
  6. Share your plans: I’m not talking about posting on social networks. No, I mean something more intimate. Talk to your partner, your mother or your best friend and tell them what you’re going to do, when and how. This way they will ask and become more involved and there will be no escape, you will have to comply.
  7. Operationalize: This means that the things you can take responsibility for are actions. For example, picking up your room, delivering a job, preparing food, etc. These are concrete behaviors that you can take on as responsibilities and obligations to fulfill, but you cannot assume responsibility for the consequences. For example, the teacher can give you an A, people might like or not the food you prepared or flatter you but this is not up to you. Therefore, specify activities and tasks that you have the resources and willingness to do and get on with it!

I’m not going to trick you, becoming a responsible person will not come overnight. It requires effort and a commitment. Remember, the key to success is consistency. I encourage you to focus and get it.

You can start by writing your final goals in capital letters and their subtypes or sub-objectives with minuscules. It begins little by little, assuming responsibilities and step by step.

Remember the responsibility for your actions (not the arbitrary consequences). If one day you don’t get the result you were expecting or you haven’t found the clues to using your willpower, don’t punish yourself. Analyze, think that you are on the right track because you are realizing the difficulties and accept the challenge again.

Responsibility vs guilt

Guilt is not the same as responsibility. Being responsible for something doesn’t mean guilty. This stuff that seems so basic but how many times have you been surprised saying: “It’s not my fault!”

To understand each other, I’m going to tell you a story, which may even look familiar:

“You found a WhatsApp message just as soon as you got up. You have to finish and deliver the project by 13.00h. In addition, it is essential to be on time to the meeting and to do things perfectly, because it is a very important client. You invest all morning in this assignment, all your effort. When you leave the house, you take the subway, but it’s late. “I should’ve left earlier, I’m gonna get caught.” You’re already five minutes late. You leave the subway and there is a rally that crosses the avenue “I can’t believe it! Did it have to be today?” You’re going to the other sidewalk, you’re 15 minutes late. You get to the office, wait for the elevator. When you get upstairs, you look at the clock before you go in but you are 20 minutes late. The client’s gone, your boss is going to kill you.”

  • I told you it was so important that you got here on time! Look at the time! The client’s gone very angry because of your tardiness! It was your responsibility!
  • You think I did it on purpose? It’s not my fault that the subway was late and there was a rally cutting down the avenue!

What’s going on here?

Everything you did was with good intentions, effort, and interest. However, different factors have caused you to fail to deliver the project on time.

  • What is the real responsibility? Deliver the completed project by 13.00h
  • Whose responsibility is it that the client got angry? The client’s own responsibility, because we cannot control the emotions that another person feels.

Guilt carries implicit components that don’t help us at all. For example, it is not the same being responsible for a decision as being guilty of a decision. What does guilt involve?

  • Voluntary Action: To make someone feel guilty of something, you need an active search to get that result.
  • The result will be negative. If you’re guilty of something, that something is going to be negative.
  • It adds up: The fact that we blame someone for an event means that the only way to prevent it from happening would be to eliminate the culprit. However, being responsible means that he or she engaged in certain behaviors that helped produce that outcome.
  • Guilt leads us to think about the cause – consequences: Not everything in life happens because of cause and effect. Most things depend on a multitude of factors, as in the story we’ve seen before. Even sometimes, changing one of them doesn’t give us get a different result.

It is important that we bear this in mind because sometimes we take responsibility for things that we cannot control, that we could not change even if we wanted to change it with all our might. Feeling guilty for events, results or situations that do not depend on us affects our mood, frustrates us and often angers us.

The same thing happens when they make us feel guilty. We see it as unfair because what has happened was not in our plans either. Before blaming someone, ask yourself if the negative results obtained have been intentionally sought by the other person or not. Make sure you have done everything in your power to fulfill your responsibility.

Responsibility: Why do I feel bad when I’m not responsible?

In social psychology, Wiener’s theory, the theory of attributions refers to the explanations given by each one of us to the causes, reasons or results of what happens to us. Attributes have a strong influence on the way we feel, how we relate to others and even how we act. And of course, it influences us when we take on responsibilities.

  1. External attributions: When the explanation or cause of the facts is transferred to something external. We have no responsibility. For example, when we say that “you get on my nerves” as if we were not in control of them and it was inevitable to feel that way. Most people use this type of attribution to evade responsibility, doing so in the wrong way. Another case could be when we say “it was such bad luck”, implying that we have all the skills and abilities necessary to obtain an optimal result, however, chance has negatively influenced the result= zero responsibility.
  2. Internal attributions: The explanation or cause of the facts is in ourselves. It can be used when you succeed “thanks to me this happened”,”without my effort it wouldn’t have been possible”. Also in a situation where we know that there have been negative consequences for another and we assume that we have been involved. We ask for forgiveness by taking on the responsibility “I’m so sorry”,”Sorry, I didn’t realize”.

Clearly, a person’s attribution style can have a great influence on their self-esteem, their self-concept and, why not, their happiness. For example, someone who does not take responsibility for his or her accomplishments out of excess modesty will have a low self-concept. Giving the impression that his accomplishments never depend on him. On the contrary, a person who always takes credit for his or her merits will give the impression of being a self-righteous, arrogant, and narcissistic person.

What do you think will happen if we use internal attributions for negative and external results for positive ones? Exactly the same.

We must be consistent and objective. It is good to follow our principles and take responsibility for the consequences of the things we do wrong, but for the things we do well. This will give us emotional balance and promote our self-confidence.

Social Responsibility

When we speak of social responsibility, we are referring to certain specific guidelines that are set in a given society, with the aim of ensuring that co-existence is correct, peaceful and leads to well-being.

Social responsibility affects relationships with others, but also with oneself:

Commitment

One of the angles of social responsibility is commitment. We commit ourselves continuously. In our work, with family, friends, partners, etc. Commitment means making a promise to someone and keeping it.

It’s funny because on many occasions, we make promises to ourselves and we skip them. “On Monday I will start eating healthy for sure”, ” I’m going to the gym three days a week, no excuses”. I am absolutely sure that one of these promises rings a bell for you, and I am also sure that one of them has not been fulfilled. Don’t you think it’s strange that even though we’re committed to ourselves, we don’t carry out our promises? Imagine what would happen if you made those promises to someone else:

  • “This Monday, yes or no, grandma, I’m going to take care of you”: But you don’t show up.
  • “Today I have to work, but tomorrow I will help you to study son”: But you don’t help him.
  • “I’m teaching at the gym three days a week.” But you don’t show up.

Why do responsibilities and commitment towards others seem more important than to ourselves?

Obligations

The second angle of social responsibility is obligations. They’re the ones that are taught from childhood. At every age and at every stage of life, it is up to us to learn and incorporate into our repertoire different tasks, in order to adapt ourselves to the society. These are our responsibilities and/or obligations.

Many times, these obligations are not said out loud, they are just assumed. We have certain activities that become a part of our obligations. For example, Mom always puts the washing machine in, Dad always does the shopping, my brother always takes out the dog, I set the table.

What if one day Mommy gets off work late? No clean clothes

What if one day my brother forgets to take the dog out? He pees inside the house

What if dad doesn’t have a car to go shopping that day? No food

They may seem extreme examples, because in general, what happens is that responsibilities rotate. However, sometimes this happens and we find ourselves in situations like “Mom, I don’t have any clothes!” Dad, you haven’t bought me the cookies I like!”,”John is grounded because the dog has peed!”

I invite you to consider examples in which the people around you had implicit obligations and responsibilities, not agreed upon, have failed to fulfill them, and it has become a conflict when it comes to assuming the consequences. Whose responsibility is it? Whose fault is it?

Willpower

Willpower could be defined when we continue to make efforts and sacrifices to achieve a goal or objective, which will bring us great satisfaction in achieving it.

This becomes more relevant when they are short-term goals. It’s easier to maintain willpower. Therefore, it is good to set small goals when the effort has to be very constant over a long period of time.

It also helps to wonder why. Why did I decide to do this? Do I still want that? What do I have to do to get it? Answering these questions will give you strength and make you reaffirm your decision, prompting you to continue forward!

As always, I invite you to comment below, what did you think? What do you do to be responsible? If you have any questions or want to share your opinion, go ahead.

This article is originally in Spanish written by Patricia Sanchez Seisdedos, translated by Alejandra Salazar.

Psicóloga Sanitaria especialista en Psicología clínica.
Enamorada de las relaciones entre pensamientos, emociones y comportamiento humano.
Descubramos conocimientos compartiendo información
“Cada uno es dueño exclusivo de sus pensamientos, hasta que decide compartirlos a través de sus conductas”

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