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  • Writer's pictureLinda Milun

Why accountability matters..

Updated: Feb 3, 2021

Accountability means that I am willing to take ownership and responsibility for what I say or do.

In Counseling, Mentoring and Coaching there is no progress without true accountability from the client. The Counselor, Mentor or Coach cannot counsel, guide or support the client on their journey and in their progress, if the client hides most of their thoughts, feelings and actions. Does it mean, that the client is forced to do a soul striptease or has to inform about any small misstep or thought? No! If that would be a case, than it would be a very unhealthy situation and is not at all desirable for those who are the accountability partners to them. On the contrary, the sessions should be a place where the client feels save to be able to open up, process out loud or through some exercises. Abuse of confidentiality, wrong interpretation of accountability can cause wounds and toxic relationships. Accountability does also not mean that one has to do everything the other person things. If after discussing and processing the client chooses a path, than this must be respected.

Using things like accountability right reminds us of how important it is, that the counselor, mentor or coach has professional training in what they do. Same like you would not go to someone to get a surgery done who is not a surgeon. Accountability well done and communicated to the client is essential to be able to use it for the progress of the client. Accountability means that the client is open and transparent about the areas he/she wants to work on and does not represent the situation purposly in a different light and does not fabricate the storyline. It means that the client owns his/her decisions. And that is what we want! We want the client to make their own decisions, and that they understand why they decide that way and that they stand up for what they decide. No matter if we are in agreement with the choices or not.

Accountability is not just relevant for e.g. coaching, it is also absolutly relevant for any other relationship that is ment to last. Be it close friendships, marriage, parent-child-relationships. All are based on trust and taking ownership of ones behavior. For example, you have said and done things to your close friend, but when confronted by another close friend, you just cut the conversation of, lie about it or ignore it, than in that moment you are not practicing accountability. OR e.g. you and your husband have a certain budget for the month you both agreed upon together, but you go out and spend more money. Your husband gets to know and instead of explaining with a good reason or asking forgiveness, you justify your behavior with blaming someone else or you even lie and say that its not true, than in that moment you are not taking ownership of your behavior.

For a healthy lifestyle it is important to be accountable to a least one person in your life. It will help you to continue to reflect yourself, make thoughtful decisions and to learn from mistakes. Accountability can help to keep you from drifting into unhealthy mindsets, world views and behaviors. Any kind of relationship will have some form of accountability. You are accountable towards your boss in matters of your work. You are accountable towards your partner in almost every area of your life since you decided to spend your whole life with one another. etc.

What could be reasons for someone to choose against accountability?

There are many reasons and factors, I will share few of them:

  1. Distrust - One major factor is that there is for some reason no trust within the relationship. Maybe you broke the trust for some reason, or the person is already "predamaged" through other relationships where he or she experienced broken trust.

  2. Guilt - It can be that the person has done something that he/she wants to hide. When we do things that are not right, like cheating, betraying, etc., than we want to stay in the dark. We put some pretentous surface on and act all ok. Even when the other person knows already what is going on or that something is going on. But we simply don't want to face the reality. It can also be that we hide things from someone, because we know they would disagree on our action or decision.

  3. Power - For some people it is particularly difficult to be accountable to someone else because for them it is like they lost power. If they are the ones who have to explain themselves to others than it makes them feel like being the inferior person. People who love power will not want to reveal their weakness. They will even manage to twist facts in such a way that people might rather believe them than what is actually right infront of them.

For every relationship there is a way to build healthy accountability. But it has to be wanted by all involved parties. If one party does not want to be part of it, than there can't be true accountability.

Here are some tips what you need to do, to do your part in it:

A. Be confidential! - Don't share what others entrust to you! It is a form of respect to not run

around sharing other peoples business

B. Be objective! - It is hard to be objective in situations, which matter to us too. And often

it is almost impossible to really be fully objective if the person is someone close to you.

But be as objective as possible. If they ask you what you would do and think about a

situation than you can share. But try to first understand the situation from every possible

angle and than only share your thougths.

C. Be humble! - Who are you to judge? That means, don't put your ideas, expectations

and standards on the other person. You are not perfect either. You made mistakes. You

don't know it all. So we cant act as if we are superior. Humility does not mean, that

we can't point out wrongdoings or such. Humility means, that we don't put ourselves

above others. Never let someone feel like they are inferior to you, if you want to really

build an accountability in that relationship. These are some thoughts about why accountability matters. Of course, there is so much more to address, look at, keep in mind and practice, but for the start this are some basics, which will hopefully enrich your practice and relationships.

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