workplace victims

The victim mindset dilutes the human potential. By not accepting personal responsibility for our circumstances, we greatly reduce our power to change them. – Steve Maraboli

Being a victim sucks.

Playing the victim in the workplace is a job no one ever applied for but unfortunately many people often find themselves front and center ready to assume that role.

The fact is, we are all victims at some point in our lives regarding a person, place or situation. Anyone who says different is most likely being a victim when asked the question.

When coaching someone in the workplace around an issue, I look to uncover where that individual might have adopted a victim mentality and the impact and cost it’s having on them and those around them. What I’ve learned to be true is that there are two types of victims in life:

  1. The ones who embrace it for a moment, learn from the experience and move on.
  2. The ones who embrace it for a lifetime, refusing to move on and collecting evidence for why their life stinks.
  • SummarySome people create their own storms and then get upset when it rains

What Is A Victim Mentality?

  • Individuals who habitually indulge in self-victimization (also known as playing the victim) do so for various reasons: to control or influence other people’s thoughts, feelings and actions; to justify their abuse of others; to seek attention; or, as a way of coping with situations. Although they can actually change circumstances to avoid being victimized, they won’t seize the opportunity because they want to play the role and appear as victims to others and themselves. 

Are You A Victim In The Workplace?

Obviously, I have no idea, only you do – but there are ways to diagnose what you may be feeling to better understand your situation and mindset. You may even be reading this right now feeling crappy about something specific to work. Maybe a bad presentation, a poor performance review or an interaction with a co-worker that went awry – whatever the case, there is help and it starts with understanding the signs of adopting a victim mentality. I did the research and here are 10 common warning signs that you’re playing the victim in the workplace:

  1. You Complain (A Lot). If you’re constantly complaining about your job, salary, or unfair life, people won’t care to spend time with you let alone include you in projects or group outings. Victims will complain about complaining and then complain that they can’t stop complaining. Fact: complaining gets old fast.
  2. You Get Jealous. If you feel jealous when your coworker (and possibly your friend) gets a promotion at work, it’s likely going to lead to problems. It’s important to celebrate with your coworkers and feel happy for them when they succeed. It’s good karma for you and your career. If you’re always feeling jealous, it may be time to focus more on your strengths versus weaknesses. The truth is that we are all lacking in some respect compared to others. No one has it all.
  3. You Shirk Responsibility. This is a classic sign of victim behavior. A victim has trouble accepting they contributed to a problem and accepting responsibility for the circumstance that they are in. Instead, they point the finger, or simply ignore their role in perpetuating the problem. They are not overtly saying “I’m a victim”, but instead indirectly sending the message that they’re a martyr.
  4. You Feel Sorry For Yourself. Victims have a habit of pitying themselves. Since other people do not usually show them sympathy or empathy, they try to give it to themselves, only to potentially appear immature to others. This further traps them in the victim role and alienates them from within the workplace.
  5. You Hold Onto Grudges. The victim likes to hang onto old grievances – especially in the workplace. They carry these around like weapons, just in case anyone ever tries to hold them accountable for something. A victim will bring up old memories and events in which they were probably legitimately hurt, but they use them as reasons why they can’t make changes to their attitude, their life, or their circumstances in the present.
  6. You Lack Being Assertive. The victim does not truly believe they can control their life, so they struggle to state what they need, desire or possibly deserve. They typically portray submissiveness and passivity when called upon and look the other way in times of leadership. This is detrimental to their self-esteem, personal development and those around them.
  7. You Don’t Trust others. This issue is not only a problem of not trusting others but rather the victim not believing they are trustworthy themselves. The victim makes the assumption that other people are exactly like them – untrustworthy, hence creating fear and toxicity within the workplace culture.
  8. You Invite Abusive Behavior. In relationships, victims have no sense of limits. They don’t know when to say enough is enough and lack the ability to create healthy emotional and physical boundaries.
  9. You No Longer Give 100%. Being unhappy is the same as giving up. It’s a choice you make every day to not try at something. Unhappy people often quit (way) too early, forfeiting the opportunity to grow, learn and create happiness. When we know what we’re made of, it gives us confidence to try more often. Don’t give up.
  10. You Care (Too Much) About What Others Think. It’s impossible to be happy if you spend worthless time thinking about outside judgements. There will be people in the workplace whose opinions matter and you should acknowledge those people but never allow them to beat you down. Feel strong about your own beliefs so that when people judge, you can stand confident.

Final thoughts: Remember that every situation offers the victim in us all the opportunity to change and grow. We must all learn to avoid the trap of believing that we are the only people that has experienced difficult or unfair circumstances. There are ways to combat this mindset. Check out this Huff Post Article on “How To Stop Feeling Like A Victim” and begin regaining your power and spirit today.

The floor is yours: How do you deal with victims in the workplace?

Please leave your comment below as your insights are greatly appreciated and a learning opportunity for everyone reading this article.

With leadership,

Joshua /

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