How to Avoid Acting Like a Victim

Imagine your manager  approaches you one afternoon and says he needs your help with something. You are already tired and a little behind schedule with some other tasks. In this situation, it’s easy to respond in a defensive way. You might say, “I already have too much to do”, or “I can’t take on anything else right now.” This is not good communication. You are acting like a victim.

A better approach is to make practical, reasonable points about your workload. “If I take this on, the proposal for [an important customer] won’t get sent out tomorrow, as we promised.” Or, “If I have to do this in addition to my other work, I won’t be able to get the monthly review to the marketing department until Wednesday.”

You can also ask questions about the reason behind the manager’s request. “Why is this so important right now?” “Can you tell me what this is about?” 

By asking questions like these, in a friendly spirit of genuine interest, you achieve two things. You gain a clearer picture about the importance of your manager’s request, which helps you to prioritize your workload. You also win  a little time to think clearly and calmly about what you’re being asked to do, rather than replying in an emotional way. 

If acting like a victim is something you have a tendency to do, it is probably affecting how much you enjoy your job. It is a good idea to make an effort to recognise this behavior and change it when you can. Here are steps you can take to try and improve:

  • Recognise your victim behavior
    One way you can become better at this is by writing down the thoughts and complaints you have. You can keep track of these and, after a while, go through them and look for patterns. This will help you to understand what your struggles are, which will make finding solutions easier. 
  • Change how you think and act
    The main reason you feel like a victim is because you are looking at things negatively. If you try to think about things in a more positive way, it will help you to realize there is likely a simple solution and you will feel empowered to act. For example, instead of just complaining about a task your manager has given you, focus on the reasons that they have chosen you for the task. You can also ask questions that will make it easier. 
  • Be grateful
    To prevent yourself from focusing on negative things, take some time to think about the things you are grateful for at work. You will likely realize things are not as bad as they seem. This will help you to overcome your victim mentality in the long run.


Topic: Communication Power, Sweet Teams Are Made Of This, Motivation Mastery