The Cadence of Blame

One of the local NPR call-in shows featured an advocate for child protection reform this morning. I have some interest in the topic (another story) and I wanted to hear the discussion.

I found myself feeling really put off by the guy, not because of the content of what he said… it was the cadence that put me off.

He sounded like he was blaming — it was broadcast blame, aimed at social workers, case managers, counties, child protection workers….. who knows.

I tried repeating some of his sentences in a matter-of-fact tone, and I could agree with him… but when he said it, I found myself disagreeing.

Try reading these sentences aloud:

(matter of factly) “The culture of child protection must change.”

(emphasizing certain words) “The culture of child protection must change.”

You could do the same with nonsense sylables and the effect would be the same:

(matter of factly) tra la la la la la.

(emphasizing certain words) tra la la la la la.

When I hear this cadence, I know someone is trying to blame someone else.

More on blame later. (It’s not an effective management technique.)