Lojong Slogan 12: Drive All Blames into One (..or drive a truck over their head?)

This week I seem to have stumbled into a Buddhist conundrum. Namely, do I kick up a fuss and squeal about someone who was extremely rude to me? Or, do I do the whole “drive all blames into one” thing and just chalk it up to my interpersonal clumsiness and the vicissitudes of phenomenal reality?

Here’s what happened. I was taking part in an investigation at a residential and nursing home. The allegations were quite serious. The manager of the home and the regional manager were extremely stressed but we were managing to all get along. Enter a high-ranking nurse from the local health service who had been asked to help me look at some of the clinical issues (hydration and skin integrity). Without going into too many details, the person concerned was combative, undermining, aggressive and  immediately launched into a series of unrelated questions and then told me how poor the service I worked for was and how great the manager of the home was and how great she was too. It was a total power play and I wasn’t having any of it. Finally, as I explained what I wanted to  do, my lovely colleague then said “Do you have the skills to do that?” This is someone who had never met me before and knew nothing about me. I made it quite clear I was less than impressed with this and about 90 minutes of awkwardness then ensued.

So, I reported this encounter back to my boss who then passed it onto his boss who then got into a super-snit about it and is now demanding summary reports and wants to take this further. It’s all getting a little out of control and will just end up being “he said, she said”. Friends of mine who know the details say that I need to pursue it because the person concerned needs to be told that their behaviour was inappropriate and a line needs to be drawn in the sand. I, on the other hand feel that I was just as much part of the situation and could have perhaps handled it in a more skilful way rather than getting angry and making it clear I was not impressed.

From a Buddhist point of view there is the following point made about Slogan 12 by Acharya Judy Lief:

blaming others allows us to avoid looking into our own role in the problems and conflicts we encounter. We look outward, but we do not look within. And even in looking outward, once we have assigned the blame, we go no further. So we do not get to the root of the problem. We stop short, satisfied that we are off the hook and someone else is at fault. “

This is true for me in this situation. Once I had assigned the blame to the other person (they were an arse, a typical health person throwing their weight around without actually having all the information to know what was going on), I didn’t have to think any further about my role in this situation – perhaps I could’ve been clearer communicating about the task in hand, perhaps I could’ve been more direct about their poor behaviour, perhaps I could’ve just ended the situation and asked for them to return when they had more information available to them?).

What was driving me in that situation was firstly,  my prejudice against a particular type of health worker personality – a kind of know-all bossy boots ninja –  which really gets me going – I have history of shouting back at managers who aren’t used to being shouted back at, when I worked as a hospital social worker which makes me just as bad as them but at least they didn’t mess with me again. I work in a chaotic system and this is all part of that chaos, most of which I am able to deal with. Secondly, anger at having to justify and explain aspects of the investigation which people senior to me should have already explained and arranged to and with the health ninja. They hadn’t, and I was getting the brunt of this inefficiency while they all avoided taking responsibility for what had happened.  I felt completely incompetent and actually lost sleep about it that night. Pretty crappy really. Especially bearing in mind that all this was happening in the middle of a serious investigation which is hard enough to manage anyway.

The current situation is that I will need to decide how far to go with this whole thing next week – do I feed into the whole blame culture hurricane  or should I play it down and Lojong the pain away? Any advice?

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