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June 2, 2015

The Problem with Shame

Hal photo outside Feb2012“You cannot shame or belittle people into changing their behaviors.” (Brene Brown)

This is one of those statements that sounds strange at first. Then, it sounds like the deepest and most profound truth imaginable. Then it sounds crazy again.

Of course, you can use shame and humiliation to change people and their behavior. We see this all the time. In fact, it is often the pathway to very quick change. The problem is it the change that is brought about by shaming never lasts.

But there’s an even deeper problem with using shame in this way: it has the potential to do unspeakable damage to both the person doing the shaming and the person being shamed.

So, why do we continue doing it? Usually, it’s because we can’t think of a better way — which is rarely a good reason to continue doing something we know doesn’t bring lasting change and causes incredible amounts of damage.

We can do better. We must do better.




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