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Victim Mentality – How to handle Toxicity in the workplace

Victim mentality is a psychological term that refers to a type of dysfunctional mindset which seeks to feel persecuted to gain attention or avoid self-responsibility.

People with this condition start believing that they do not control the outcomes in their life and start blaming others for all the failures. This results in constant blame, finger-pointing, and pity parties that are fueled by pessimism, fear, and anger.

During tough time in life we ask ourselves quite often some of the below questions:

1.      Why did I get this issue in life?

2.      Why am I not wealthy but others are earning more?

3.      Why am I not getting quality work, but my colleague gets all the good projects?

Now If your life is going well and you have all the success, would you ask the same questions?

Not really and not always. Would you ask yourself :

1.      Why I got promoted but my colleague did not?

2.      Why am I leading a wealthy life while many others are not?

3.      Why do I always get quality work while my colleagues are not?

During the tough time we start believing that we are better than anyone else and should get the same benefits but during good time we do not think the same for others.The reason is we are not taking complete ownership of our lives, our action and the outcomes. We do not take responsibility of our own success and failure instead we start taking credit of our success but start finding people to take the blame of failure.

This is called Victim Mentality where we start thinking ourselves as victims and blame others for our failure. Sub consciously we all do it in some instances but there are few who live this as part of their life.

In our personal life we can manage such people but in a corporate work environment if you have such victim mentality in your workforce it becomes a challenge to manage them. It is difficult but at the same time it is important to align them.

Take an example of a project escalation – if you have team members with victim mentality they will try to pass the blame to other team members or they will blame managers for not supporting them. If the managers have victim mentality they will blame senior leadership for not providing complete authority and this sequence goes on. Do you need such workplace where everyone blame each other for the failure or do you need a workplace where everyone feel accountable for the escalation and try to solve it as a unit? I am sure everybody wants a team which win together and fail together.

It becomes critical for leaders and managers to identify victim mentality in their organization and take measurable and corrective steps to fix this.

The most challenging part of this solution is that the people are not aware that they have a victim mentality because it has become part of their life. Also, managers tend to start thinking that people who are focused on growth and ask too many questions are having victim mentality. We need to be careful as you might hurt your top talent if you do not carefully access the behavior.

For this Managers need to access the situation, see the pattern, learn about individual personal life and remain calm and patient. Carefully watch for characteristics of victim mentality like blaming others, fear of failure, selfish, show – off, lack of accountability. Please note that they have these issues but doesn’t mean that they do not have any qualities, they could be highly innovative, subject matter expertise or strategists so they are still an asset to the organization hence we must tap in on their strength and work on balancing the victim trait.

How to manage such people :

1.      Set clear Goals – Carve out a plan for them and set goals which allows them to interact with their people in conflicting situation. Observe and allow them to learn from it.

2.      Change from “you” to “I” to “We” – Victim mentality will always focus on “You”. Please to change it to “I” and finally “we”. Simple step could be to ask them to start using the word “I” for any action.

3.      Educate but not advise – Regularly interact with them on their personal live and experiences. Listen patiently and provide your perspective but do not start educating them

4.      Focus on solution – put them in problem solution approach training’s and allow them to solve problems in a team.

5.      Provide responsibility and provide environment to convert – this is most critical step when we provide the environment to thrive. The entire team needs to understand this and support.

Lastly please do not judge your people. We know the problem and it is our responsibility to get them back and make them an asset again for our organization.

Please remember:

A smooth sea never makes a skilled sailor

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