The Terrible Trio—Vampires, Victims, and Whiners (oh my!)

© Lisavan |

© Lisavan |

Part 2:  The Victim

The second in our three-part series on energy drains in the workplace is the perpetual victim—the person who is always yammering on about the crud hand the world has dealt them.

Their past jobs lost, their failed marriages, their C in Chemistry and their FICO score that looks like a batting average are all on the topic list, and most importantly, all the fault of someone else.

Onlookers have no difficulty in figuring out who really ruined the victim’s life. She did. She did it by not moving on and by choosing to stay miserable.

Victims remain victims because they receive feedback that supports their victimhood.  This support comes from others who are often well-meaning and unconscious of the negative impact.

When perpetual victims complain about how awful their lives are, their supporters support them by buying into it. “Yep,” they’ll say, “Ain’t it just awful.” That’s all the positive reinforcement the victim needs, as off they go seeking the next hit of YPT (You Poor Thing—their drug of choice).

A person who supports a victim in that way is not really a friend but an enabler. Sane and loving people will distance themselves from victims precisely to help them stop being victims.

So what do you do when a victim comes to you and complains yet again about something someone else or some other department did? It’s easy. Place accountability for change back on that person. “Sounds like an opportunity, really. What are YOU going to do to make sure that doesn’t happen again or to make peace with it so you can move on?”

Victims hate that—but it’s the intervention they need. They either have to stop being a victim and draining your energy, or find someone else who is a willing enabler to victimhood. Either way, you win!

Another strategy is to appeal to their inner ego, no matter how deeply buried, to contradict the self-image as a victim. “You’re pretty powerful,” you say, “so I know you don’t view yourself as a victim. I can’t wait to hear what you’re doing to make the situation better!”

The person must either admit to helplessness and weakness or seize on your appraisal of strength.  Ninety-nine out of a hundred will go for the strength.

If you’ve done everything you can to reprogram, empower, and redirect a perpetual victim, the next step is simple avoidance. Steer clear of the person so that you can preserve your own energy.  If they seek you out and begin their monologue, simply raise one hand, silently, and continue on your way.

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