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Attribution Error

Attribution Error

If you spend any time around people, you’ll quickly see that while we tend to attribute our own problems to outside events, we’re happy to blame other people for similar issues.

This attribution bias, or fundamental attribution error, causes us to over-emphasize internal motivations to explain someone’s behaviour while under-emphasizing the situation factors.

We assume that someone’s actions tell us what “kind” of person they are, as opposed to considering the environmental factors that may have influenced their behaviour.

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MORE IDEAS FROM THE SAME ARTICLE

Most of us are prone to attribution error as it’s a mental shortcut that keeps us from having to think too hard. It’s much simpler to blame someone’s personality than take into account all of the situational factors that may be affecting them.

Hanlan’s Razor states, “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.” 

One of the first lessons a new manager learns is that people rarely do what you ask them to do. The second lesson is that the fault almost always lies with the manager. Ninety percent of poor behaviours tend to be a result of miscommunication.

New managers can go through a quick checklist and look at four potential causes whenever someone fails to live up to their expectations:

  • Have compassion for everyone you meet.
  • Put yourself in their shoes. Think of a time that you were in a similar situation and recognize how external factors influenced your own behaviours.
  • Instead of assuming, simply have a conversation and understand what’s really driving peo...

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