Wednesday, April 1, 2009

How to Deal with Victims...Some VERY Awesome Advice!

I never imagined that when I asked for "VICTIM" stories I would get such interesting stories, funny comments (esp. you, Miss Lexieloo and Shopaholicdiva1027 and KatyO.), and all around sympathy for my situation. It seems all of us here in blog-land have had our own share of dealing with these special human beings.

The best comment came in the form of advice...I appreciated these words because when I read them I was still feeling the sting from how quickly the situation with my favorite victim turned so quickly into me apologizing to her. The best part of the advice? DON'T ALLOW the victim to get off track...this is what they are looking to do to de-rail your force and focus and turn the conversation back to their favorite topic...themselves and how awful they have it...which then forces you to meekly apologize and then move away (sound familiar, AppGal?).

Before I show you the whole comment, I want to say I think we all should practice this advice. I have always been awful with confrontation and I rarely, if ever, speak up for myself (for fear of being seen as unpleasant). You all will pleased to know that today when my favorite victim started up again after I asked her, "will you be in class tomorrow so I can tell the sub," I firmly restated my question, rather than get into a conversation about why she has her schedule the way she does and how much it is ruining her life. I think she was stunned that I didn't take her bait. She actually answered my question, properly, the second time I asked her. Score one for me, and score one for this advice. So thank you very much, Ms. have helped all of us. Please come on out and let us know your name so we can thank you properly!!! ;)


Victims are all the rage now. The media loves them. Their deflection techniques during conversation can be legendary. They can easily turn their own lack of responsibility into a conversation about YOU being a big old meanie. To them, every problem they have caused for themselves is actually the fault of the person illuminating the problem. They've used these techniques for years successfully through the art of deflection.

What is deflection?

They turn a conversation about something they have done wrong into a conversation about YOU being a victimizer. This makes you defensive, and you start defending yourself. Now the subject of the conversation has been changed.

The key is to stay on topic--They did something wrong. You have to stay focused, and strong. There is at least one of these victims in every workplace, and they are doubly difficult to work with if the Boss buys into their victimhood, or more commonly, the Boss pretends to buy into their victimhood in order to avoid dealing with the problem.

Victims make the silent promise that you will suffer if you push back. Pushing back can be risky at work, especially if you are I (at) the typical workplace, where NO ONE wants to get involved. Why? Because victims are known to be retaliatory. This is why bosses are loath to get involved, and want you to deal with it on your own. There's no easy answer. Sorry you're dealing with this. Unfortunately, many of us are, because the victims often threaten retaliation if you try to make them accountable for their actions. Sorry for the novel. END OF COMMENT...

(To this I said, novel? NOVEL? I am okay with a novel...I LOVE YOUR ADVICE!!!)

I hope this helps all of you...we can overtake these at a time. Good luck standing your grounds, ladies!


Anonymous said...

So how did you manage to stay on topic? Did you have to interrupt her to repeat your question and get her to answer? Thanks for more clarification:)

dinagideon said...

Anon @ 4:35:
I let her finish her tirade (again) and just looked at her square in the face and repeated my question. The look on her face at my firm ground was priceless. I feel like a new woman. :)

HeidiG said...

Dina - I am so proud of and impressed with you! Good for you! And huge YAY for Anon for that advice - truly priceless, just like the look on your victim's face. You go, girl!!

Emily said...

I have been under the weather and so I missed your post the other day. I just read the post and the comments made me laugh so hard! I totally feel you pain- a particular member of my family is a "victim" and let me tell you it is so draining. Anyways, I am glad you were able to be firm with your "victim". Thank you posting about this topic, it is really helpful.

Anonymous said...

Great posts! I have a question: how do you deal with a friend who is a "victim," but her actions don't affect you directly? I mean those people who, everytime you talk to them, complain about how difficult their lives are and how everyone is out to get them, blah, blah, blah, but never want to listen to suggestions for how to deal with their supposed problems? Do you just stop talking to them? This friend lives far away, so I seldom have to wait for her to show up, cover for her, etc., like Dina's example from work. But the conversations have just gotten exhausting. Any advice out there?

Anonymous said...

Hi Dina-

I'm the one that wrote that. I'm so glad you put it to use, and that it worked. Trying it out on a coworker that is lateral to you on the hierarchy ladder was a great practice effort. It gets much more complicated when it is a subordinate or a superior.

Best of Luck and keep it up!!

Madame X
Anti-Whiny Victim National Headquarters

Anonymous said...

Good job with your old is she? Just curious...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the clarification (I am Anon@4:35). I honestly have never had to work with a victim or had any experience with one! None in my family--either but on both accounts I have worked with all kinds of unhappy and just plain rude and mean people!

Boy, learn something new everyday. Will be prepared now if/when I ever met one!

Happy Friday to you:)

a fellow teacher

dinagideon said...

HeidiG: Thanks!!! I am hoping that by taking some of her "victim" thunder away from her that she starts to think about how she is being perceived by the world. I used to be a victim when I was young, but some very wise coaching my dad and other trusted people in my life helped me turn my ways. I can't be that coach for this woman but I hope that she has some people in her life who can provide her that. Only thing? She is very scary to deal with and I fear that the people in her life are frightened of her reactions enough to not help her out. She is a very "AGRESSIVE VICTIM."

Emily: You are welcome. I know that there are energy drains everywhere and I try to diffuse the bombs that they are...but the better informed we all are the better off all of society will be! :) I hope that you can work with your family member...I still have to work with my mother-in-law, and she is harder than any other type of victim because she is passive-agressive...

Anon at 11:40: I had to unfortunately drop friends in the isn't like I tell them, "I hate you...go away," I just simply let time and distance separate us...that said, if a friend who I had problems with in the past comes back and wants to rekindle our friendship and honestly seems to get why we "broke up" in the first place, then I happily start hanging out with them again...I have the fortune of having people welcome me back into their lives after I have screwed up (oh, I have had some doozies), then I owe that to everyone else. :)

I don't know if that helps...but good luck!!! You will find the answer...

Madame X: Thank goodness I have never had to deal with above or below victims...I like teaching for that reason...I feel like there is a lot of equality and independence...making some of the inner-politics a lot easier to handle. Phew. But if I do have the situation of having to deal above or below, I know who I am going to call out for advice!!! :) Thank you again!

luvallthingsjcrew: Thank goodness it wasn't a student I had to deal with...that can be very sticky. I have had my share of victims in the past (I teach 6th-graders), but they can be gently reminded of how their behavior is not good for themselves or others. At the age they are, they really REALLY care about how their actions affect others, so I can typically get a victim student to stop pretty quickly. Every once in a while, I have to send them down to the counselor or principal, and then they deal with the issue.

Hey, A fellow teacher: If you never have to work with a victim, more power!!! (Or it could be that you have the personality that is able to diffuse the victim's tirades before they actually start, and if that is the case...awesome for you!) You are right about the mean-ness, though. I think a lot of teachers are very controlling and when they don't get their way can turn very quickly. I actually deal with angry teachers better than victims because I just smile and move on...I think me smiling freaks them out...I have noticed a lot of the teachers avoid me because I REFUSE to play their game. (But I have also noticed that I am friends with all the really cool and chill teachers of the school...which is so nice!!!) Good luck...teaching is rewarding, huh, but there are those days!!!

Petunia said...

Great advice and so glad to hear that IT WORKED! Woo-hoo!!! :)

Anonymous said...

THIS was a great topic...I loved reading your post and everyone's comments!