Have you ever heard people trot out that old saying 'It's six of one and half a dozen of the other'? It's used in many ways, but most commonly when supposedly trying to apportion blame between two parties in conflict. Saying 'Oh, it's six of one and half a dozen of the other', is shorthand for saying, 'Blame is shared between these two, therefore neither one (or, more rarely, both) will be held accountable. It's a way of copping out of getting to the bottom of a conflict, and properly sorting out who is to blame for which issues.
Is ever really fair to anyone to deal with a conlict situation by copping out in this way? You might be a teacher dealing with kids in conflict, or an employer dealing with workers in conflict, or a parent with squabbling siblings. Whatever the case, what message does it send to them if you wash your hands of it because you can't be bothered to sort out which party is responsible for which misdemeanours?
I'm a parent, I've spent the best part of thirty years in management, I've run football teams, and other group activities, and I can honestly say that in my experience, conflict usually has some shared blame. Not always, but most of the time. I would hazard a very unscientific guess, and say that probably 80% of conflicts between individuals is shared. But that still leaves a good 20% of instances in which there is an innocent party, and an aggressor. Falling for the 'six of one and half a dozen of the other' copout in these circumstances risks and incredibly damaging miscarriage of justice on the one hand, and sends out a very worrying message (you can get away with it if you cry foul loud enough) on the other. A leader who adopts this policy in these circumstances will be seen by both parties as weak and unfair.
As for the 80% of instances in which blame is indeed shared, rarely if ever is that blame 50/50. Again, by just assuming that if blame is shared then it must be 50/50, the leader will end up being seen as weak and unfair by both parties.
Unfortunately, everywhere you look; in schools, homes, and workplaces, you see this policy in action. And what's more, its proponents insist it's a good, fair policy. Just one example of what I'm calling Crap Wisdom.
© Darren R. Scothern, 2016