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I am the office scapegoat. I loathe going to work…

Dear Office-Politics,

Good morning. I found your website while researching another insidious commonplace office problem, “workplace bullying and mobbing”. Until I began a position with a Municipality, after several self-employed years, I wasn’t even aware that this organizational issue existed. At first I began to question myself and all of my previous beliefs and perceptions, not because they failed me in the past, but because they were so out of sync with my current situation, that, I started severely doubting my abilities and judgement. I accepted what the “lifers” were saying and how they were behaving because I just didn’t know the culture or the hierarchical structure, so, I tried my best to understand their perspectives and methods, but, what I found is that because I didn’t bring any “personal baggage” with me, and I just do my job professionally, don’t complain, don’t socialize, take responsibility for my actions, treat everyone with respect as a professional, and “assume” that this respect and interaction would be reciprocated, was my first mistake.

It took me about two years of frustration, anger, depression, physical exhaustion, utter detachment, fatigue and sleeplessness, to realize that I have become a “target” a “scapegoat” for the office dysfunction. Beginning with the director all the way down to the mail clerk. Upon further research I realized that what I thought was only my imagination, turned out to be reality, and that others suffer the same type of silent torture, endured daily, with no one to discuss this with, especially their direct superior, because the supervisor wittingly or unwittingly condones this type of behavior. I tried appealing to my Director on an emotional level, an intellectual level, a professional level, and worst of all, a personal level, that was my second mistake.

Now, after almost three years of being the office “scapegoat”, am I able to finally cope with the effects, coping is one thing, but, changing the culture or even altering perceptions is another.

Briefly, there is one coworker (a narcissistic and psychopathic bully) in particular that is constantly, scrutinizing, criticizing and running in and out of the directors office with rumor and gossip, it’s disgusting. To this day I loathe going to work to endure more of the same, whatever happened to common decency and treating others with dignity and respect, accepting differences of thought and feeling? (that’s a semi rhetorical question)

Please respond with any suggestions or thoughts you may want to share, as I am sure for me and others that accept this type of fate, would be beneficial in the daily struggle to survive this kind of abuse.

Thank you,

Counting the tacks on my cubicle walls…

timothy johnson

Dear Counting the Tacks,

To quote Cool Hand Luke, “What we have here is a failure to communicate.”

Unfortunately, the failure appears to be coming from you. Gone are the days when a person could merely show up to work, put his head down at his desk, do his work, and expect to be left alone and treated with respect. Your lack of socializing early on appears to be coming back to bite you now. You’ve been singled out as the “weakest of the herd” and as such, an easy target.

However, your early mistakes are now water under the bridge, and we cannot turn back the clock. What we can do is reset it moving forward.

You did imply in your letter that there are others like you who suffer in silence. Hence, your first step is to begin building alliances with these individuals. In most office politics situations, there is safety in numbers. Simple gestures like going out to lunch, walking, breaks together, or a simple conversation can begin building bridges. This does not mean you have to “bring your baggage” to work. I’m assuming you have hobbies, interests, family and/or friends, or other points of safe conversation.

The second challenge you have to face is some self assessment. You mentioned you had spent twelve years as a self-employed professional. That’s quite an extreme to go from a long-term self-employed individual to working for a government entity. You might ask yourself if your specific problem is not so much a case of office politics gone awry as it is a bad fit to a specific culture. Being self-employed, I understand how we can become accustomed to the “lone wolf” mentality; however, organizations don’t work that way. Allowing yourself to become part of the team is challenging, but it’s a necessary step in the workplace acclimation process. As part of the strategy I mentioned above, you might also try to find some points of commonality with some of the more “astute” politicians in your office.

Next, you have the issue of the office bully to handle.
1. Your disdain for this person is loud and clear in your letter, and I’m wondering if you are giving off similar cues when you’re in his or her presence. I’ve seen people physically bristle and stiffen up when they’re around people they visibly do not like (I know I do it, if I don’t make a conscious effort to do otherwise). If you’re giving off these cues, you’re giving this person the permission and power to keep pushing your buttons and giving you further reasons not to like them. You may want to give a conscious effort to soften your stance around them (and others in your office).

2. The behavior you described appears to be more of an office gossip than that of a bully. The difference is engagement. A gossip uses passive activity and does not actively engage their targets; rather, the gossip goes behind backs to do damage. The bully, on the other hand, uses direct conflict to his or her advantage. There’s an open threat, either stated or implied, and it is generally delivered directly from the bully. The strategy for mitigating both a gossip as well as a bully is to rely on documentation and less on hearsay. Both rely on word-of-mouth and divide-and-conquer to gain power, and if you are able to maintain objectivity through written documentation, it takes away power.

3. You mentioned this particular bully is narcissistic; hence, ego and self-esteem appear to be motivating factors. Bullies, at their heart, are cowards with no healthy outlets, meaning that they do have a fear of something (my guess based on your comments is your bully has a fear of an undermined ego). You may use this information for good or for evil (I’d recommend the former over the latter). Try finding one genuine, professional thing that you can compliment this person on, and comment on it without forcing it. Then try again. If this person is getting strokes from you, then s/he may not be as inclined to attack you.

4. The scrutiny and criticism feed into #3 above. Try thanking the person for his or her input. Perhaps even trying to go to them proactively and ask for input (but take them your best work so they don’t have too much ammo to use behind your back). If this person is a total snake who is simply out to find fault, this may not be the best strategy; however, if s/he is simply looking for an ego buzz, this could be a helpful strategy.

Finally, you mentioned that all of this is affecting your physical, emotional, and mental well-being. No work environment should be oppressive to that point. It may be time to consider an exit strategy. You might look for something that is a better fit for you. Three years is too long to endure that kind of environment, especially if there is no sense of change on the horizon.

I hope this helps. Thank you for writing to Office-Politics.com,


Timothy Johnson, Author

Timothy Johnson is the author of the newly released Gust: The “Tale” Wind of Office Politics (Lexicon, 2007) as well as Race Through The Forest – A Project Management Fable (Tiberius, 2006). As Chief Accomplishment Officer for his company, Carpe Factum, Inc. (Latin for “Seize The Accomplishment”), he also is a dynamic speaker, providing keynotes and workshops on the accomplishment-oriented topics of project management, creativity, process improvement, systems thinking, and (of course) office politics. His consulting clients have crossed multiple industries and have included Wells Fargo, Harley-Davidson, ING, Teva NeuroScience, and Principal Financial Group. In addition to writing, consulting, speaking, and coaching, he is also an adjunct instructor for Drake University’s MBA program in Des Moines Iowa, teaching classes in Project Management, Creativity for Business, and Managing Office Politics.

  1. 28 Answers to “I am the office scapegoat. I loathe going to work…”

  2. Scapegoating.
    I know my boss scapegoats because she gets in this mood about every six weeks. We can always tell when she is on the warpath. Someone will catch it for nothing and after she screams and yells it all out, she then gets very calm and happy, she even sits at her desk humming or singing a happy little tune. She’ll be in a good mood after chewing on someone’s personality for about six weeks until the mood hits her again! Her spouse is also a good indication of when she is in a bad mood or not depending on if he comes in smiling or slipping past the front desk quietly. I have just dismissed it as a medical condition she must have to which I am not responsible. It helps to keep me from trying to defend myself needlessly or to escalate the problem. When my commissions come in, I’ll politely and professionally find myself a more suitable employer. Life is too short to not enjoy your work and the people with whom you have to come in contact with everyday.

    By Jeanny on May 24, 2007

  3. I am interested in your advice regarding the necessity to socialize at work to have a peaceful day. Can you expand a little to explain why this has become an organizational requirement? While socializing may be pleasant it can also be unpleasant depending on the individuals in the office – in the interest of productivity its better not to go there. Personally, I like to be cordial and helpful and expect the same. The organization might be wise to recognize that an effective team is comprised of mature and motivated professionals. The model involving socializing can wax into clicky, petty gossips – that’s a gang not a team.

    By Donna on May 9, 2008

  4. Leave on a high note….llike George Costanza.

    Keep ’em guessing
    Keep ’em laughing

    Hey, losers at my last job…get this….my new job is exciting, wonderful, progressive, and in touch…with more to come
    EAT YOUR HEARTS OUT…oh, and did I mention state retirement benefits? New hospital…new opportunities…

    What part of this do you not understand?

    By Barb Dion on May 10, 2008

  5. Throughout my school days I was a scapegoat, butt of jokes, victim, sucker, stooge, gimp, bottom of the pack, etc, etc, etc … (add any any other derogatory terms here!). I am 32 now and I realised a while back that I was actually *asking* to be the scapegoat without realising I was doing it! In TA terms I was playing the “kick me” and “please don’t kink me” games while the bullies were playing the “now I’ve got you, you son of a bitch” game. Furthermore, I realised that my unconscious “asking for it” came from my childhood, particularly my Mother whom I strongly identified with and who was particularly submissive to my bullying Father. In my own turn, I would deliberately but unconsciously seek approval from the people who would belittle me the most – so I became a self-fulfilling prophecy. My solution? Stop playing the “kick me” and “please don’t kick me” games! Those people who want to play “now I’ve got you, you son of a bitch” won’t be able to handle it – and they will leave you alone!

    I suggest being sociable, talkative and friendly while at the same time remaining professionally detached and not revealing very much of your private life. I am aware that the the American office social dynamic is possibly different to the English one (I am English), but that solution seems to work for me :o)

    By Mike E on Jun 5, 2008

  6. Unfortunately, everyone seems to offer advice to the person who is being scapegoated. Actually, it is a problem with the people who are doing the scapegoating. I wish I had a solution for you. I am a “veteran” of sorts, having been the scapegoat twice before…and now again. I notice that these are less experienced supervisors who also have a different communication style from the employee. They are not quite bullies, but the experience undermines your confidence, and alas, your future performance. Typically, the employee has more than the usual intelligence and/or experience than someone who has been there for years. That means, even if you are doing your job well, if there is a delay or some other obstacle, you will be blamed for doing it your way, adding some change you thought would make a difference and they will want to watch how you do the tasks and retrain you. You are a threat, no matter how tame and passive you try to be. You are tainted by the finding by them that it is your fault for the delay, or you did not evince the proper amount of concern. I have not found any way of successfully changing that. When they see that you still do the task at all differently (observation and communication in your style are not connecting), they decide that you really are not capable. From there, you are weeks or months away from just having to leave. Make up a backup plan to move on and keep everything close to your chest.
    HR will not be able to help you.

    By Mary Andersen on Jun 26, 2010

  7. I am experiencing this every so often at work. I hate coming in when I know we are slow and there is no work, or they have just laid people off. What I have noticed is that whenever there is a problem and it could be connected to me, then it is brought to me and I am questioned. I find that most of the problems are things that I was trained to do it that way or these people will have made the mistake themselves and through questioning me to nail me with it, they find it was their own mistake. My supervisor even brought me something yesterday saying I had a workorder for something and it ended up the unit never had a workorder and it wasn’t what he said it was. He was trying to nail me with a big mistake on a large rush order we were trying to get out. I was so frustrated going home after having 3 different instances in one day. Usually I have another team player who is a lead that likes to come over and ask questions with a dominant tone of voice and he also raises his voice like your in trouble to stir you up. He will ask were something is and if I know anything about a particular order that is missing or what not. It is annoying. I wish people would cut the bull crap, and communicate with respect and quit treating others like they are children! This person has been complained about several times by many people but nothing happens. I complained and my superior would not let all three of us have a meeting instead he wanted to talk to us seperately. Evenutally the guy appologized for his behavior.

    By Jeannie on Aug 31, 2010

  8. I have noticed that scapegoating is a technique used to discredit people to fulfill some other agenda. It may nothing to do with the person, but perhaps it is a territorial thing, where someone wants to take over responsibility for some function that the scapegoat has control over. Or, in order to outsource a function, that function has to be vilified in order to create an artificial problem that needs to be solved. So, these people have a solution and no problem, so they have to make up a problem. An easy target is someone who is low in rank and performs a function that few people understand. The less that is understood about the job, the easier it is to make up lies about it. So it is not always a personal attack, so don’t automatically take it as one. I hope this makes you feel a little better about your situation. You should go to H.R. and explain what is happening, so you get it on record.

    By Natalie on Oct 26, 2010

  9. I am in the same boat as counting the tacks and I did precisely all the things you told this person to do. Bottom line, the situation is still the same there are nasty people in this world who achieve personal satisfaction from bringing people down and office bullying is a way of life for alot of people no matter how you deal with it.

    By Ann on Nov 11, 2010

  10. I am so glad to find out that I am not the only one!!! I hope everyone finds a way to cope….will be working on this myself!

    By Indrani on Apr 13, 2011

  11. You are most likely a scapegoat for one of three reasons: 1) You are different. You may have a different ethnicity, gender, or mentality, but you are somehow different from the rest. It could be that you have a different organizational style or you are a visionary. People hate difference. History has proven this, and it is deeply rooted. In the past, you would get burned at the stake for witchcraft or thrown into a gas chamber. In today’s world, you just get blamed for the coffee maker breaking or the plugged toilet. If you are a scapegoat due to this reason, then it might be wise to seek a job with a culture where difference is respected rather than hated. 2) You seek change in the office. Perhaps you think that scheduling of the conference room could be computerized. Or the office furniture would be better in a certain arrangement. Most people are habitual creatures. When you suggest change, it makes them uneasy. They have negative feelings towards you. So when something goes wrong, it automatically becomes your fault, no matter how conscientious you were. 3) You don’t buy in to their silent social structure. The bully usually builds a cohort, but if you don’t fall into line, then you become a target. Perhaps you don’t give what they value the same weight, or you see passed their mirages. Perhaps you just believe that all people are of equal intrinsic worth. Whatever the reason, whether you are conscious of this or not, you threaten their social position and become an adversary. “When you play a game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground.” G.R.R. Martin

    Possible answers to this problem: you can either change who you are and sell yourself out or weather the storms or find somewhere better. Be introspective and figure out if you would even want to change. If you do not, try to ignore the trivial dramas and stand up for yourself in the non-trivial cases. Always be respectful (even if they are disrespectful to you) and always be professional, but don’t be a doormat. Know that people will try to use you as a scapegoat, but it is a price you might always have to pay for maintaining your identity and your values. A better answer is to seek out a company culture that fits your personality and forgives your flaws (we all have them, no matter how hard we work to minimize them. We should always work to minimize them, but we should not have to suffer incrimination every day for them).

    By Ron on Jun 5, 2011

  12. The problem is not with the scapegoat it is with the scapegoater. People don’t like it when they can’t fit you in to a box or with a label. Or when you don’t fit in with them and their beliefs. Meaning you are independent, don’t gossip, don’t feel the need to feel accepted, do your job, and keep to yourself. Those are the ones that get the most strife. Whenyou stand alone and do it with dignity you run this risk. But stay strong to not comform unless you really want something for YOU. Conforming is boring and going along with office “high school antics” to fit in is obviously beneath you. When will people grow up? The problem is that people are have no minds of their own anymore. They have lost all ability to think “objectively.”

    I am sorry for what you going through but understand completely. As I have also been subjected to the same thing. And the problem is not with you. As the first commenter stated when he gave that “being the weakest of the herd” speech. If anything standing on ones own with a consistent set of values based on performance not office antics and not gossiping in not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength. When you constantly gossip you are the weak one constantly looking for approval and acceptance in a demeaning and childish way that by no means shows anyone’s ability to do a good job or be a good upstanding citizen. Participating in bad-mouthing or talking about someone else is looking for assurances and approval from someone else and its sign of low self esteem and weakness because you are afraid to stand alone, and need a group to back you up. It is so far from a sign of strength and makes you look like you have no identity of your own. People are threatened by this. Basically your self worth is based on others approving of what you believe regardless of whether its really right or wrong. People need their own identities and beliefs and at the same time to be able to work together in a neutral environment toward constructive goals. Not sneaking into offices and being pressured to become part of some office bash session against one person. How ludicrous, that is unprofessional high school behavior. I thought we were a little more intelligent than animals? With the ability understand that people come in all shapes and sizes and with different beliefs and that it only adds to the experience by bringing challenging views to the working environment.

    By skarrlette on Aug 21, 2011

  13. Hi,
    I hope you are holding out fine by this time, but if you are still aren’t, I hope that you know that the fault lies not with you, but the scapegoaters. I’m sorry, but I have to call out on the advice by Timothy Johnson above – it reeks of victim blaming. Never, ever, even for one second internalize the blame. Sure, we all have the occasional annyoing office habit, and those are valid points, but that doesn’t mean that the bullying is justified.

    I echo the advice by skarrlette that everyone has the right to work in peace and have their rights, values and dignity be respected. I have just come out from a HORRID 6-months experience at a top news company where I was bullied time and time again, not just by colleagues but also by my boss who blatantly did the bullying (sexual harassment, yelling, threatening, mocking, sarcastic comments, gaslighting and the silent treatment were among the stuff that I had to go through). I was determined to fight it out as much as I could, and kept silent and did my work the best I could.

    Trust me, if you are a performer (and you have to be honest with yourself about your work performance), that your boss needs you more than you need them . I know this, because I was offered to stay by my boss when I resigned, but I was so wiped out by the experience that I just had to leave. But how did I manage to survive for 6 months, though? A lot of self-love!

    – Whenever people treat you badly, they are giving the message that you are unworthy – just don’t believe it. Each time, say, I was thrown a sarcastic comment, I would tell myself, “I am perfectly okay with myself”. That Eleanor Roosevelt quote that no one can make you inferior without your consent is cliched, but true.

    – Seek positive energy. This is something that I regret not doing much of. Sure, a lot of people were assholes to me, but there were also one or two people who weren’t and I regret not seeking out their company. Also, can you sneak in an outing to the museum or listen to your favourite classical music on your MP3?

    – Throw yourself into the work. Try to recycle that negative energy into positive energy. Can you make your work more interesting and enjoyable?

    – Get on with your work. Each time I was treated badly, I would imagine my resentment and ill-feeling growing into a ball, and of throwing this ball away to my back.

    – Seek out support. Speak to good friends, trusted family members and a counsellor. But beware of toxic comments (some people mean well, but they are doing harm when they ask you to change your behaviour to accommodate to the bully).

    – Exercise!

    – Cry! Trust me, it’s not a sign of weakness, but a good way to let go.

    – I know that this is hard, but try not to bring your ill-feeling and resentment home. Each time I finished work, I would wipe my hand off to throw away the negative energy.

    – Do you believe in God? I do, and I took my friend’s advice that whatever challenges – and challenging people – that you meet, it is just a challenge to God to make you better. And I tried to put things into perspective: I gain some, I lose some and that I can’t possibly have everything.

    – Forgive. Each time I was treated badly, and I couldn’t do anything about it (i.e. trying to bite my tongue with my boss when she provoked me), I would tell myself to just forgive.

    That said, I wish I wasn’t so stubborn and sought-out a better place which respected my values and dignity. Because three-months later, I am still recuperating from the exhaustion of it all.

    I wish you and everyone that is in the same situation the best of luck.

    By Mo on Jan 17, 2012

  14. timothy,
    with all due respect, but you are wrong about socializing. socializing with coworkers will not help. and this topic goes beyond office politics only. it is much more broad problem of our entire society. this is the culture of bullies. they are at every corner. soft souls do not have chance in this reality. they pay price of being scapegoats with the psychological and medical problems that arise. root of the problem is that we have forget our basic values. we turned back on them. everything goes back to the basic unit of the society – family. this is the place that should teach us about moral, empathy, love, civility, manners. where is that all gone? and where is that all going? who knows. i hope that person who wrote initial post is doing well, but having in mind how things work – i doubt it. there is nothing else to offer him than to say that i understand him. my advice is – go back to be your own employer if any possible. things will not change. you are soft, sensitive person, and there is no place for you in this society. any job you take will be the same. i wish i could offer you a better perspective, but unfortunately i can not. old good times when we knew what the honor is are gone.

    By tina on Jan 13, 2013

  15. In response to the above comment, it was pointed out that you should ‘begin building alliances with these individuals’ who are using you as a scapegoat. I disagree, such people as these are not worth the investment of you’re time and energy.

    By trying to build alliances you are appealing to people who should be doing the appealing to you and that’s the difference. Defy them, stand upright and speak you’re mind regardless of the consequences. For me, better to be hated and honest than to appeal out of falsity!

    Deep down, you rightly and justly have no respect for these people. Don’t try to fit in and blend with such people. Set higher standards for yourself! It’s not easy because we all want a life free of such bullying and intimidation – but stick in there and defy them as much as possible.

    Unfortunately, I do agree with the comment that there is ‘safety in numbers’. The herd mentality is quite comment in most walks of life. Very, very sad!

    People scapegoat for one reason: to shift the focus of criticism/attention away from them. The blame game is as old as the human species. The desire to deflect criticism, point the finger and attribute blame has always been around.

    Just reconcile yourself to the undesirable fact that life is generally a misery and disappointment and worse yet – that’s the better part of it.

    Hope to be rich and free of work. Because that’s the only way that you’re ever going to be truly free of PEOPLE!

    By John Stacy on Apr 9, 2013

  16. I understand how it feels to get bullied at work and be the scapegoat. The last place where I worked, I was bullied by many people. Treated poorly, talked down to by people. People would treat me ill to make themselves feel good. I had to leave my job because of the toxicity of the place. There were just too many nasty, mean, backstabbing people who didn’t care.

    By Ernest on May 25, 2013

  17. The advice in the article stinks. Why do you have to play “nice nice” with creeps? It’s give and take, not take take take like many of the psychopaths sitting around the office these days. I have always been a team player UNTIL I ran into the office bully who wanted nothing to do with me from the start except pick me too pieces. Why should I try buttering up to them?? It doesn’t work and I have more dignity than that.

    By Betty on Jun 3, 2013

  18. Well, it is now 2013 and I hope you have left this toxic situation. I am currently in this situation and I totally understand. The person who put the blame on you is an idiot and does not have a clue what he is talking about. The bullies are jealous and usually have psychiatric issues, particularly personality disorders. The only solution to this problem is to leave until you find a decent environment.

    By Ann Hale on Oct 3, 2013

  19. Meh, in my experience every “Office Scapegoat” or office “outsider” generally brings it on themselves. And the probably have a life long history from childhood of the same behavior. If you have been the office scapegoat more than once, it is YOUR fault. Its not at all likely that you switched places of employment and ended up in an entirely different situation with entirely different people and got picked out as an “outsider” again. The last outsider in our office made mountains out of molehills with every situation from where he got to park to how clients interacted with him. Even ordering lunch was a chore with this guy. Talk about a toxic environment and bullying, here was one guy who made the lives of the other thirty folks in the office a living hell. Yet to here him tell the story it was all Us vs Lonely old him. He got fired, and than he came out he had been fired from his last job, and we know he got fired from the next 2 jobs he took (We are in a big metro but our industry is small and everyone knows everyone.) When everyone in the building hates you, you are to blame.

    By Kevin on Oct 31, 2013

  20. After reading these comments, I feel better about my former situation; to feel I was not alone. I experienced scapegoating at my former employment and after being terminated from that job, I have found it is difficult to move on without second guessing myself. Prior to this job, I was at a good point in my career and confident; now I struggle with finding the confidence. In regards to the advise above, I did most of the things suggested; I took responsibility when I made mistakes, I was friendly with co-workers, and made improvements when requested. However all this was in vain due to my superior who was “friends” with the director. When all was good and well in my supervisors life, are relationship was good but when she had difficulties in either work or her personal life, I was targeted (i.e belittled, micro-managed, nit picked). I assertively confronted her regarding her belittlement stating things like “I really like it when you stated what you expected from me (related a positive form of communication or action), this helps me to better understand expectations but when you yell at me it causes me to feel belittled, and I don’t believe I deserve to be treated this way.” However even after this, scapegoating by her still seemed to happen. She was also absent from the job a lot, which made it difficult for me to complete tasks that needed her advise or approval. I also sought advise from co-worker who backed me behind closed doors, one of them even had the same problem and advised me to document. I considered this but decided against it as this would have substantially increased the hours I was working, and at the time my personal life was already taking an emotional hit, as the demands of the position left little time for a personal life. Also my supervisor appeared to have clout with management and HR, and I didn’t think even with documentation I would be believed. Overall the job was not a good fit. However being scapegoated and bullied took it’s toll, which few months after being terminated I am still recovering from. The worst part is the second guessing, as my supervisor would tell me that she was sticking up for me with management/admin and that it was management that had the problem with me but then when I asked the director what she knew of my work she replied she mostly just knew about the problems my supervisor and I were having didn’t seem aware of the positive aspects of my job performance. Plus I started to observe my supervisor consistently contradicting herself and lying (i.e in the interview she lied about the turn over rate, as it was much higher than she stated). I share this story to vent for catharsis but also to whoever is reading this, you are not alone if this has or is happening to you. My advise is to document and to consult a superior/HR if you can about what is happening; if you want to stay at your job. My mistake was I did not document and go to the director. At the time, I didn’t believe or really want to believe that my supervisor (who I felt a connection to) was badmouthing or venting her irritations about me to staff to make herself feel better when things went wrong, but I had an instinct that this is what was happening. I realized that my instincts in this manner were prob. right when after being terminated I found out from someone that she had said something negative about me. My other advise is if you don’t want to rock the boat and/or don’t believe the job is a good fit, than find references from the job, spruce up your resume and look to move on. If you have been there a short time quit and leave the job off the resume. Also , do some soul searching, think about what you want with employment, where you would be most happiest working. Also moving forward take notice and consider red flags. I noticed some during the interview process but should have considered them more clearly before accepting the position. My problem was I also should have quit the first month in when more red flags (i.e badmouthing of former employees, overworked employees) about the job continued to pop up. My only problem with the advise from the article is that it seems to have a blame the victim approach. Although it is good to recognize ones part in any relationship and take responsibility for actions, learning new ways to improve it is also imperative to understand that often those doing the scapegoating do not take responsibility for there actions or have a hard time doing so which is why they scapegoat in the first place. Scapegoating affects you and you can take action against it, but the person doing it has the problem not you. One can only take responsibility for their own actions not the actions of others. Placing blame on the victim is just enforcing scapegoating behavior in the work place, which should not be tolerated. To whoever is out there reading this, I hope this story has helped.

    By Jay on Mar 1, 2014

  21. Having read all the comments, it makes me feel great satisfaction that I am definitely not alone! I am the scapegoat this time, for some 8 months. I gave up a good job previously, I guess because I was bored and needed a challenge. Boy did I get one! My first day started with me meeting my manager and being told ‘I don’t know why you’re here.’ Things got bad to worse but I was ‘rescued’ by someone senior who had recently been promoted with a similar background who became a surrogate manager for me. Only problem now is I have two direct managers with a third, fourth and possibly fifth with whom I cannot share allegiance (conflicting interests). I am a contractor and my direct manager keeps trying to recruit me for a pittance, effectively so I have to conform to their wishes ( a mindless drone who only gets up to go to the bathroom). Some great advice is remember family which you immediately tend to forget. They are my #1 and end up bareing the brunt of my woes at the end of the day, making you ready to face another day. #2 is keep fighting for what you believe is your duty/what you are placed there for. My true manager now sits down with me and plans everything to death, which is great as we both know what to expect from each other when, only their true plan is to distract you from what you have tried desperately to achieve over the entirety of your tainted employment. This then leaves you ripe for the plucking. I am sure I will get another plucking next week, but then I know anyone with half a brain can see why I put my head on a platter to expose the petty differences that exist between managers. Can anyone help me solve the tale of two managers? One is your typical bully/snake who has no technical ability and is frankly of lower IQ, but great in a fight (protecting himself). The other is clever and everything I would aspire to be.Mr. Popular. However in a fight, he is somewhat passive. GRR!

    By Smithy on Mar 6, 2014

  22. Wow, nothing like blaming the victim and giving the dyfunctional bullies and jealous people yet more encouragement, huh? What terrible and useless advice. Shame on you!

    By Lola on Mar 24, 2014

  23. I do not like most office work environments. I’ve worked independently at times due to this–traveling seeing patients w/ little office contact. Even an office w/ a few people can turn sour if the personalities are toxic. I think probably most people are in need of some therapy to air out their childhood issues/problems that they bring to work. Since the hardest, most difficult personalities abhor self examination, those are the ones most of us must deal with. People who are emotionally damaged and re-create it in their work environment, every day, day after day. I don’t know the solution. I’ve been very professional, tried more small talk, socialized w/ a few people at work, different methods, but nothing, nothing cures a toxic personality who continues to spew their emotional garbage onto anyone in their path! If you’re lucky, some work environments are pretty good, for some reason, and you will find work in one of them!

    By Nan on May 15, 2014

  24. I love how when good and innocent people ask these questions, the answer (from the “experts”) always seems to basically be: The blame is on the victim: “Unfortunately, the failure appears to be coming from you.”

    I say, Wrong. The fundamental problem is : “Gone are the days when a person could merely show up to work, put his head down at his desk, do his work, and expect to be left alone and treated with respect.”

    The problem is we have a social paradigm of wickedness, selfishness, and evil. Those who conform to the system are, in fact, conforming to awful, Satanic behavior.

    By Dave on Jun 19, 2014

  25. As you grow older you are better able to realize, at an earlier stage in the game, that you are being made the scapegoat and that there is office bullying taking place. I started a part-time job a few weeks ago; my immediate supervisor assured me she had my back, that I was the director of the clinic where I was working, and that I needed to be more assertive. This weed the corporate mobsters from out of town came to see how things were going; my boss had an urgent situation where her clinic was, and told me to cancel/change around/reschedule two appointments at my clinic the next day, and to come and fill in at her clinic which was busier. I readily agreed; and began to try to rearrange the appointment for a later time or place. When the corporate mobster found out that my superviser wanted to change the appointment around, she became enraged. She called my supervisor to tell her she could not do that, and my supervisor immediately denied that she had authorized the change. I was then accused by both corporate mobster AND my supervisor for misunderstanding and misrepresenting the truth. As I am almost 60 and old enough to recognize the elephant in the living room, I gave my two weeks notice less than an hour later. It felt really good. Yet my supervisor’s response? “Why did you jump ship so soon? The corporate people are only here for a week and they’ll be gone…..”. For me, the writing was on the wall….a corporate culture of CYA and throwing others in the fire in order to CYA is toxic, and it’s best to get out of Dodge while you can.

    By KAS on Jul 13, 2014

  26. If you want to know how an office bully thinks, just look at Kevin’s response.

    The problem is that there are a lot of petty, childish, immature people out there who don’t think twice about hurting others for their own personal gain. That’s life. You have to stand up for yourself and take care of yourself. The advice the author of this article gives is pretty bad — if you’re working with people who have personality disorders, there’s really not much you can do about being bullied. Unless you want to sacrifice your personal integrity.

    Ignore the advice this author gives, it’s pretty bad. Do whatever self help you can, and if it fails, find a new job. The most important thing to do, though, is to try and understand why you became a scapegoat in the first place. Do you have a bad habit of being in situations with bullies? Could be a pattern worth looking into. Most halfway decent people aren’t going to bully you just because they can. But there are plenty of people with serious problems in the working world who will make your life hell if you give them the chance. You have to be prepared for this with self-knowledge, awareness, and the determination to uphold your values and take care of yourself.

    Anyone reading this article, please ignore the author’s advice. Complimenting a narcissist is just going to end up in even more screwed up headgames for you. There’s no winning with bullies who won’t cede ground no matter what you do. And if you don’t fit in with these people, that’s a good thing!

    I’m the office scapegoat now. I’ve had 14 jobs and this is the first time I’ve experienced anything like this. I know I can be a little bit of a nudge or know-it-all, and I have low self-esteem from my parents trying to murder me when I was a kid, but still, at no other job but this one did anyone give me a problem. Sometimes you just end up in environments filled with extremely negative, unhealthy people. And in those situations the only thing you can do is leave.

    By Brad on Aug 18, 2014

  27. In reply to Kevin:
    “When everyone in the building hates you, you are to blame.”

    A Jew surrounded by members of Nazi party.
    Black person surrounded by racists.

    How are they to blame?
    And when did it turned out into a blame game in the first place? Isn’t this article ironically about scapegoats?
    Did you even red it, before posting your comment?

    By Ningen-desu on Sep 12, 2014

  28. I’m currently the office scapegoat. I admit I made some mistakes: took a job when I had a bizarre interview: the manager who’s the lead bully stared at me with wide, rather frightening eyes, and there I should have known I wasn’t dealing with a mentally balanced person. The then-director lied to me that she had the same educational background as me to make herself seem like we had that in common (which took a little research to figure out).

    I watched my manager target a colleague, the best employee I worked with at the company, and spread rumor and gossip campaigns that eventually caused her to have a nervous breakdown and quit. She was very friendly and sociable, and a great employee, and I think that’s the reason my manager targeted her.

    Me personally, I was a little bit of a knob when I got there. I pushed too hard, worked too hard, and showed it off, which got the ire of my colleagues who really don’t seem to enjoy working all that much. I have a professional degree in an environment where most people didn’t even graduate college, etc.

    I’ve been sexually harassed, threatened with lies, retaliated against, etc. The worst of it are the weird games of mental manipulation. It’s not that my manager and now-director want me to get fired, it’s that they’re controlling people–they want me to show them sexual attention, do extra favors for them, use me in their campaigns to attack their targets, etc. (which I made the mistake of going along with when I first got there).

    I tried my hardest to socialize with my colleagues: told jokes and stories that made people laugh, went out to the office functions, celebrated birthdays, tried to take an interest in their lives, etc. It made no difference.

    What the author of this article seems to discount is that there are very disturbed people out there, and sometimes those people are the people you’re working with in an office. It’s true, though, that it’s each of our personal responsibilities to take care of ourselves: to avoid these people when red flags are raised (like at my interview), to stand up to bad behavior, and to leave if it doesn’t get any better. Not to mention not acting like a door mat or a thoughtless automaton, because these sorts-of people seem to really love that. Also I’m a very poor cultural fit for the organization, so even if I was willing to be professional, it doesn’t mean others had any inclination to be (particularly if they’re incurious and narcissistic sorts).

    So in summary, I don’t think the advice in this article is very good because it seems like the person who wrote this isn’t familiar with the fact that offices can have immature, cruel, sometimes even deranged people out there, even working for high-flight corporations, but it’s our responsibility to take care of ourselves in these situations now and in the future.

    By Alex on Mar 4, 2015

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