Cause and Effect by @scedmonds


The following is a guest post from Chris Edmonds. I am excited to be taking part in the launch of his new book this week, entitled The Culture Engine. Workplace culture and engagement are favorite topics of mine. This book will inspire you to create a better workplace culture that is engaging and respectful.

My wife does our laundry. Recently she’s been frustrated that my t-shirts came out of the dryer inside out.

She’s said on more than one occasion, “I need you to put your t-shirts in the laundry right-side out. Would you please do that?”

“I do put them in right-side out,” I’d reply. “Really. I’m very intentional about doing that.”
“Then why do they come of the dryer out inside out?” she’d ask.

In the past, I never thought about how I tossed my dirty shirts in the laundry hamper. And, these past six months, I’ve been extremely careful to do exactly as my wife had asked: I ensured my shirts were right-side out.

My wife had her truth. I had mine. How could we resolve this issue?

This past week, I made a suggestion. I said to her, “Have you noticed if the shirts were inside-out in the dirty clothes hamper?”

“No, I’ve never checked,” she admitted.

I said, “How’s about this round you check the dirty shirts to see if they’re right-side out? I’ll help!”

She said, “That’s a good idea. I don’t need help – I’ve got it.”

Today she came in and showed me one of my t-shirts, fresh out of the dryer. It was inside out. She said, “All your shirts went into the washer right-side out. By the time they got out of the dryer, they’d inverted themselves!”

She apologized for blaming me for not doing what she’d asked. “No worries,” I replied, adding “That is a bit weird. I wonder if the washer or dryer turns them inside out.”

Now, I don’t mean to infer that I listen to everything my wife says to me or that I do everything she asks me to do. I’m a normal, moronic husband. This time, though, I really tried. It wasn’t my fault – this time.

How often do you experience “competing” truths in your work environment? I see it happen all the time.

Disagreements about what the “real truth” is can evolve into major conflicts pretty quickly if they’re not resolved in a way that honors everyone’s truth.

Just like with the inside-out t-shirts, something in your organization is causing an undesirable

result. In many cases, it’s not anyone’s fault – no one is intentionally causing the issue.

(If someone is intentionally causing the issue or is not honest about what’s happening, that’s a different problem entirely.)
Now things aren’t working as desired. Rather than blaming people, a better approach is to dig in and learn the process more deeply – and discover the root cause of the issue.

Your truth may be about the first part of the process (the t-shirts in the laundry hamper right-side out). My truth may be about the last part of the process (the t-shirts coming out of the dryer inside-out).

We’re both right, yet we still must resolve an undesirable outcome.

Don’t blame. Dig in. Examine the process and find the root cause. Address it if possible – without harming relationships.

If you can’t fix the issue, you at least now understand it. You might have to spend a little extra time with the t-shirts before you fold them, but people will feel heard and honored.

Originally published on July 7, 2014 at

Download a sample chapter of The Culture Engine here.

Chris Edmonds is the founder and CEO of the Purposeful Culture Group, which he launched after a 15-year career leading and managing teams. Since 1995, he has also served as a senior consultant with the Ken Blanchard Companies. Chris has delivered over 100 keynote speeches to audiences as large as 5,000, and guided his clients to consistently boost customer satisfaction and employee engagement by 40+% and profits by 30+%. He is the author or co-author of six books, including “Leading At A Higher Level” with Ken Blanchard. His next book, “The Culture Engine: A Framework for Driving Results, Inspiring Your Employees, and Transforming Your Workplace” will be published by John Wiley & Sons in September 2014.

Image courtesy of Pixabay


  1. Chris and Chantal,
    I love this post because it shows how much we can do when we communicate rather than defend, debate, and conflict.

    The story is precious and such a great illustration of your main point — Don’t blame, dig in!

    Ooh I love this story!

    1. Chantal Bechervaise – Outaouais Region - Canada – I blog about everything surrounding the world of work and how it intersects with personal life. Topics include: HR, Leadership, Social Media, Technology, Work-Life Balance, Employee Engagement, Workplace Culture and Achieving Success and Happiness. It is all about your own personal balance and what is appropriate for you. I also love the outdoors and reconnecting with nature.
      Chantal Bechervaise says:

      Thank you Kate! It is easy to lay blame instead of digging in at times. This is a great reminder that sometimes we need to change our mindset and approach the issue from a different angle.

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