Faultfinders do not have much faith
psychology texts argue that people will do as well as they can under the
specific circumstances. They only need to accept the underlying values,
understand the problem, and receive support and encouragement. Faultfinders do
not buy into that. It is only necessary for them to look around to see the
absurdity in the people-are-good-and-want-to-do-the-right-thing hypothesis.
These players can look at almost any behavior, activity, or project and point
out things that should have worked out better or faster. They can point to
people who should have been smarter or sharper. They also call attention to
events or circumstances that someone should have handled more smoothly or
They always do
better, they believe, so it is reasonable for them to expect others to do the
same. Faultfinders reason thusly:
were done right the first time, we would not have to waste our time
straightening out messes other people are causing
There is no
excuse for that – whatever that happens to be
If you can’t
do the job, we’ll find someone who can – and that will be easy to do
The trick is to
Faultfind about something, anything, and then criticize someone, anyone. The
result is that the spotlight never gets turned on the player. If the heat does
turn on him, he only needs to escalate his criticism and self-righteous
Faultfinders are intolerant of
Intolerance is to
faultfinding as a lack of reason is to dogma. Remove the intolerance and this
frustrating behavior must stand the test of reality and the close examination
of others. It is this type of scrutiny the player wants to avoid whenever
The faultfinder is
always looking for the different, the negative, or the problematic in others.
If the player shows any real tolerance, he runs the risk of overlooking these
negative aspects. Attention must not shift to people’s strengths, abilities, or
areas of special competence. This is a risk that must be avoided. Maintaining a
high level of intolerance is safe and guarantees there will always be room for
Faultfinders expect others to
joins with intolerance and the next principle to form a closed triad. Simply
expecting others to foul up enables the player to predict the behavior of
people with 100 percent accuracy. Sooner or later everyone will handle
something less than perfectly. The player’s intolerance makes it easy to see
the negative or problematic. Assuming that the foul up will happen leads to his
being sharper and quicker to pounce on it.
It is a variant of
Murphy’s law. Sooner or later things will go wrong, and it is likely to be
sooner. When it happens, the player is not surprised. He and Murphy predicted
It is easy for the
player to spot and respond to what he expects. If everyone thinks a member of
the family will foul up, they will be more alert, more on guard, and quicker to
blame. When people expect the worst, there is seldom any surprise. Even if
things are going well, Just you wait!
Faultfinders do not accept
people as they are
Now the triad is
complete. There is intolerance. There is the expectation others will foul up.
Now, however people are, they should change.
The player says,
“I do not like the way you handled that project.”
The staff member
watches the player for a while to see how projects should be handled and then
uses the player’s approach for the next project.
then says, “I do not like the way you handled this project.”
The staff member
says, “But it is the same way you do things.”
The player then
says, “I might have expected you to be someone who would try to take
someone else’s techniques. You need to be original.”
Here is the triad
in another context.
Mike works beside
Ralph on the assembly line. Mike says, “Ralph, you are going to drive me
crazy if you don’t stop moving your lips like you are chewing your cud when you
operate that press.”
“Get off my back!”
Mike comes back
with, “You people from the south plant are all alike. I don’t know why
they put you in here even if we are short on help. We’d be better off without
help like that.”
Ralph is hot now.
“What do you mean by that? If it weren’t for us, nothing would ever get
finished around here.”
Mike lashes back.
“I get tired of fixing things you screw up.”
screwed up anything yet?” Ralph asked.
“Not yet but
just give you enough time.”
It is a safe bet
that Mike’s prediction will eventually come true and he will be ready to
Faultfinders are stingy with
Recall from the
Discussion section that giving someone praise is dangerous. It can backfire by
encouraging the person to do more that is praiseworthy. The faultfinder does
not want this to happen. It gets much harder to find things to fault-find
about. It is like a hunter encouraging all the game to leave his favorite
hunting ground. Faultfinders tend not to be either stupid or self-defeating.
Faultfinders enjoy blaming and
The key here is
that no one has to be at fault or in a position to be accused of anything. A
typical example might go like this.
Karen says to
Bill, her office mate, “The truth is it is your fault I didn’t get that
“How do you figure?”
That is the
opening Karen is looking for. “You missed your appointment in Atlanta, and
the result was your proposal was late.”
“But I was snowed-in at Cleveland.”
“It is always something with you.”
Puzzled at the
attack, Bill asks, “What does that have to do with your getting or not
getting the promotion?” A big mistake, Bill!
Karen is ready.
“I would not expect you to understand that kind of political thing. I work
with you and you drop the ball. That makes me look bad and I do not get the
promotion I deserve.”
now, Bill says, “Let me get this straight. I get snowed-in at Cleveland.
My proposal is late, and because of that you end up not getting a
With a wave of
disgust, Karen ends the conversation. “You’ve got that one right.”
Faultfinders focus only on what
is not going well
By this point, it
is probably clear to you that focusing on the problematic and negative is the
stock-and-trade of faultfinders.
a draft of this letter for me.”
A couple of hours
later, “I’m getting tired of errors in the things you type for me.”
The typist says,
“I did it in a hurry. I thought it was a draft and you wanted it in a
hurry.” Sorry, no win this time.
that even a draft will not be full of errors.
(There were three errors.) You
need to remember if something is worth doing, it is worth doing right.”
To herself, the
typist thinks, “I don’t think you would think anything was right.”
This is a
perceptive typist. The faultfinder will always find fodder for his cannon.
Faultfinders are not proud of
the achievements of others
Suppose Karen and
Bill both get promotions.
“Wow! Don’t you think it’s great I got that promotion? I’ve worked hard
and deserve it.”
“It’s terrific! I think it’s terrific for me too.”
“Sure it’s nice for you. It isn’t that big of a deal for you, though.
You’re a man so you can expect promotions almost automatically.”
Faultfinders expect others to do
as well as they sometimes do
If there is a
major player around and especially if he is in a position of authority, it does
not pay to be exceptional. For example, a salesman has an unusual week. He hits
on almost every call and ends up the week 60 percent over his solid but not
His sales manager
says, “I knew you had it in you. You have been holding back on us. This is
more like it, more up to your potential. This is the kind of work I’ll be
expecting from now on. No more of this shirking. You are a great
Of course, this is
like expecting a baseball player to get a hit every time he comes to the plate
or your child always to get A’s. Nonetheless, it is the stock-in-trade of a
first class faultfinder. Their motto is nothing but better will do for everyone
Faultfinders place the blame
squarely on the person who did not get the job done
“It is your
fault. We were counting on you, and you let us down.”
On the surface,
this may not seem like a technique for faultfinders. It is best to hold the
responsible person directly responsible. The twist is that the faultfinder is
literal about this. In the example above, Bill should not have been late with
the proposal. He should have known it snows in Cleveland in the winter and made
contingency plans. It was his job to get the proposal in on time, and it is his
fault that it was late.
The technique is
probably becoming clearer to you by now. The idea is that, no matter what,
there are never any extenuating circumstances or mitigating conditions. The
expectation is absolute and unconditional. Either there is success or there is
a person who failed. The trick is for the player to use the technique while
avoiding its being used on him.
If the player was
the responsible person when things went awry, the best trick is to say, “I
did my part. My part of the project went fine. It did not work out because
there were several parts that had to be done right. There were a couple of the parts
for which I was not responsible that went wrong.”
project is putting in a new light bulb. Joe is responsible for light bulb
replacement. As a first class faultfinder, he says, “It is not as simple
as just putting in a new bulb. Nothing around here is so simple. The problem is
that John forgot his keys, and I let him use mine. I can’t get into the closet
without a key. By the time he finally got around to bringing my key back, there
was insufficient time to install the fixture. The problem is that there is
inadequate coordination of facility access. We have some big problems around