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Techniques > Conversation techniques > Excuses > Deflection

Description | Example | Discussion | See also



When accused, deflect the blame by pointing at others. Say that it was not you and that whatever happened was caused by other people or other things.

You can point directly at specific culprits or you can infer that others are to blame by more subtle means, such as indicating that they had motive, were in the right place, and so on (and that you were not).

When being direct or vague, consider the implications if you could be found out by the people you are blaming. If there may be recriminations, then be less direct.

You can also blame circumstances, the weather and inanimate objects.


It wasn't me. Michael did it.

Don't look at me! That lot are the ones who have been saying things about you.

I wasn't the only one. Everybody else does it too.

It was the wind -- it's always blowing things off the line. 


A common reason why people blame others is because they feel blamed themselves. Blaming has a negative connotation because it implies intent on the part of person accused. It effectively says 'You meant to do that, which is bad, so you are bad and deserve to be severely punished.' People fear such consequences so much that they pass the blame on to others. This is a key reason that 'passing the buck' is so common.

Direct blaming is pointing a finger at a particular person. It is simple and straightforward and so is easy for others to accept. Of course it is also easy for them to reject unless there is some further evidence.

Partial blaming is seeking to share responsibility by accepting only some blame whilst saying others are also at fault. This results in individual blame being reduced. It also normalizes the action, reducing the implication of social deviance.

Blaming nature or things is not the same as blaming people, as people have intent, which blame implies. This means it is effectively invalid, being a causal attribution rather than blame. Nevertheless it is often used -- and accepted.

See also

Attack the Person


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