Ever noticed how we instinctively try to avoid taking responsibility for our mistakes, behaviours or actions? We all want to be respected and liked by others, so when we do something that might reflect badly on us, we feel a strong impulse of self-preservation.

We use what’s called RPM to avoid the fallout.

What does the RPM stand for?

Rationalising our actions

We rationalise our actions in an attempt to make them seem reasonable and acceptable.

Projecting blame

We project the blame onto other external forces.

Mitigating the damage

We mitigate the amount of damage so that it seems less and therefore irrelevant.

An example of RPM in action

Here’s a classic example: an errant husband forgets his wife’s birthday. He may rationalise it: 'I was so busy.' (Even though he had 364 days to prepare after the last one). He may project the blame: 'No one reminded me.' And he might mitigate: 'It’s not like I forget all your birthdays.' None of which helps his wife respect or like him - and some of which is likely to come across as feeble.

The alternative: taking responsibility for our mistakes

So watch out for RPMs in your own language—at home, to your teams or your clients. Try owning up instead. Come right out with it.

'Oh no! I completely forgot! I’m so sorry.'

You’ll gain even more respect (after the initial fallout) and be even more likeable… if that’s possible!

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