Djokovic and Blame Shifting

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One of the biggest news stories this week is about Novak Djokovic being expelled from the US Open after smacking a tennis ball into the throat of a lineswoman.

In discussions with the match officials afterwards, Djokovic kept insisting she was fine because she didn’t have to go to hospital. He was even heard to say: “If she would have gotten up right away …”.

While not explicit, the subtext of his comments is that HE would not have been disqualified if SHE had reacted in a different manner.

I don’t want to join any pile-on of Djokovic but this is a classic example of blame shifting. Yes, he didn’t intend to do it. Yes, he is sorry that she was hurt. But no, her reaction did not cause him to be disqualified; his own actions did.

It’s obvious Djokovic was negotiating with match officials to stay on the court. “It’s my career, my grand slam, centre stage”, he said. The match rules are clear so he probably had little chance of reversing the decision, but at the very least he needed to take responsibility and apologise for his actions, not blame the injured woman.

Blame shifting has no place in a negotiation. All it does is lead you away from a potential resolution. Don’t let your desire to be blameless lead to a failed negotiation. A bruised ego is a small price to pay for a big win.


If you are interested, you can watch some of the action here: Novak Djokovic disqualified from US Open