Creative Leadership

Are You a Scapegoat?

Over and over, I meet frustrated people who feel that somehow, they’ve become a “scapegoat” – and it’s usually in the office. I can understand their feeling, because far too many times I’ve personally seen teams where a particular person seems to be picked on, blamed, or takes the heat for most of what goes wrong. The truth is, life isn’t fair, and your co-workers – even in the best of situations – will sometimes treat you unfairly. It’s not a matter of “if” it’s a matter of “when.” If you’ve ever felt like a scapegoat, here’s a few tips for breaking out of the stereotype and getting some respect:

1. Do you take it?  Too many people just let others vent at their expense. Don’t find excuses, or shift the blame to other people. But you do need to respond appropriately. If you have other facts, share them. If you can prove they’re wrong, point it out. Don’t be a jerk, but be honest and don’t let others take wrongful advantage. Being nice is good, but only to a point. When “being nice” or “being liked” becomes more important that standing up for the truth, then things are way out of balance in your life.

2. Are they right?  Sometimes, we’re simply not good in a particular position, and yet we’re too afraid to admit it. Don’t get caught in a job you don’t perform well, and don’t be an incompetent employee. If you’re blowing your job, admit it, and work with your boss or associates to find a place where you can excel.

3. Push back.  Don’t be a wimp at the office. Human nature being what it is, people will push in the easiest direction. If you take it, they’ll continue. So stand up for yourself. Be bold. Speak up. You’re worthy, and you have value. Speak to your boss, and/or invite the offending co-worker for coffee and have a heart to heart. Don’t become a scapegoat simply because you won’t retaliate or respond.

The bottom line is don’t become a pushy jerk, and don’t blame back – but be a confident employee. Do your job well, develop strong people skills, and learn to respond to personal attacks or blame. If you can do that well, your days of being the local scapegoat are most likely over.

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