Responding Effectively to Accusations


Where conflict is concerned there is usually an accusation, implied or direct, that has been picked up by the receiver of an unskillful message. For instance, someone delivers a message in the form of a complaint that is unclear and carries blame with it! Sound familiar?

This happens all the time and in that moment if we are the receiver of this unskillful message we must begin to decipher it. If we allow ourselves to get caught by the accusation and the poor deliver then its curtains. We are now triggered and pulled into the cycle of unhealthy and often harmful conflict. Yuck! We then begin to observe ourselves going down a path that is all too familiar and ineffective.


The good news is that you have the power to change this cycle. With a little self-awareness and commitment to staying the course with someone we can change this!

First all it’s important to know that accusations can be a little tricky as they are often implied and not direct. Sometimes they are very unclear and indirect making them hard to pick up on. We often feel or have an experience of being accused or blamed but because it’s indirect we have a tough time responding. We can often be left wondering if we are imaging things or is it really happening? This leads to tension building and mistrust in the relationship.

So, if you feel like an accusation is being directed at you here is what you can do…

Trust your instincts and stay grounded. Remember not to get triggered? De-trigger yourself

Get curious and ask some clarifying questions to ensure you understand what the accusation is?

For example, if a message came towards me that sounded like this… “You don’t care about me”, the implied accusation I’m picking up on is that “I’m not a caring person”. Instead of becoming defensive I might respond by saying…”So, are you saying that you experience me as not being a caring person?”. It’s important to allow the other party to respond.

Once you have clarified the accusation, slow down and respond without being defensive.

Respond to the accusation by responding to the part of the accusation you feel is reasonable. For example….”yes, sometimes when I get busy it feels like I don’t care”. Own the accusation. This de-escalates conflict.

You don’t have to agree 100% that you are not caring but own that at times it may seem that way to others.

At this point you may want to ask the person what it is they need from you moving forward. What has them feel cared for? What do they need form you moving forward?

Ask for what you need also and come to a resolution in regards to moving forward.

This is a skill that requires practice and the only way to practice is by putting it into practice in your real life relationships. Start with something small. The next time you pick up on an implied accusation slow down and begin a dialogue with the person and see where it takes you. Remember connection is better than disconnection.

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