victim card

7 Ways to Handle an Employee Playing the Victim Card

Conflicts are part and parcel of working with teams. A slight amount of healthy competition even adds to the spirits. However, conflict management can quickly become tedious for managers, especially when dealing with employees who always insist on playing the victim card or victim mentality. So you’ve got an employee who seems to be taking pleasure in using these tactics – always blaming others for their situation, refusing to take ownership of their actions, and constantly seeking sympathy from their colleagues. Knowing how to deal with this type of employee can be challenging as a manager. It may not be easy, but you must make an effort to put an end to this cycle of victimhood.

What is the victim card?

It can be tough being on a team, and sometimes the tension can get too much. That’s when team members resort to playing the victim mentality. It usually refers to a strategy to present themselves as victims in every circumstance and give up responsibility. It’s a strategy used to gain sympathy and attention or to get their way. Sometimes, people use it to justify toxic behavior aimed at others. Manipulators often resort to victimhood to avoid facing the blame for their actions. Playing the victim card is often adopted by people who lack personal accountability and prefer an excellent social perception over honesty.

It can be hard to deal with when a team member is always playing the victim card. However, it’s essential to understand when it is being used and take appropriate action. For example, when someone is not taking responsibility for their actions or refusing to listen to others. When you catch someone using the victim mentality, providing them with constructive feedback can be helpful. This will help them understand that their behavior is unacceptable and must change.

Sometimes, a team member may not know they’ve adopted a victim mentality. They may not recognize that they are behaving this way because, subconsciously or not, it works for them. It allows them to distance themselves from the conflict and maintain control. In other words, the victim mentality is a deliberate strategy. In this case, it may be helpful to talk to them about the issue to help them understand and change their behavior. Before diving deep into resolution, we will first see how the behavior impacts the environment.

What are the effects of using the victim card?

The victim mindset of an employee has several adverse effects on the team environment.

Increased stress among employees

First, it can cause tension and resentment. This is because it creates an imbalance in power between the player using the card and those around them. It also makes people feel like they’re constantly being put down or have to fight for everything. In addition, the victim mentality can lead to a lot of stress among the other team members as they have to constantly remain on toes for casual interactions.

Read more: 20 Ways on How to Help Employees Manage Stress

Productivity reduces

Studies have shown that people with the victim mindset tend to be less productive in their personal and professional lives. This is because it’s hard to take constructive criticism, and when people are constantly being put down, it becomes difficult for them to improve their performance. Due to these effects, teams that rely heavily on the victim mentality often struggle with high turnover or morale problems.

Harms Team Morale

Using the victim card can reduce team productivity. It removes focus from the task at hand and, instead, forces people to use their energy in unproductive areas. This often leads to negative interactions and low levels of cooperation. The victim card can harm team morale. If used consistently, the victim mentality will eventually wear down everyone on the team.

Desensitizes people toward others

Additionally, someone adopting the victim mindset at work often leads to desensitization – meaning that team members gradually become less sensitive to other people’s feelings and needs. It is harmful as empathy and kindness are vital to fostering healthy workplace relationships that last long and form the basis of great success.

Prevents collaboration

This can make it difficult for teams to work together effectively as everyone becomes focused on their own agenda rather than collaborating towards a common goal. If people notice someone repeatedly acting like a victim, they will avoid teaming up with them. A victim mindset hampers collaboration as it does not allow collaboration with equal accountability.

Makes environment unsafe

Team members constantly taking on the role of the victim often become resentful and hostile. This is because it makes people feel defensive and out of control. It can create an unsafe environment where people don’t feel comfortable speaking up or collaborating. It will create a toxic work environment that is difficult for employees to tolerate. Ultimately, this will lead to problems within the team.

Victim card at work

Signs that someone is playing the victim card

Here are some signs that someone is playing the victim mentality:

  • They focus on their injuries or problems without paying heed to issues that others face
  • They don’t accept mistakes and try to shift the blame on others or make excuses
  • They act entitled to special treatment or attention
  • They whine or demand sympathy
  • They refuse to take any responsibility for their actions

How to deal with someone who plays the victim at work?

It can be challenging to deal with someone who always uses the victim card, but it’s important to remember that not everyone is entitled to a positive attitude. This person is often looking for sympathy and validation, and it can be hard to deal with their behavior. Instead of responding aggressively or defensively, try to understand their mindset and offer support instead. If the situation continues to spiral out of control, consider consulting with a professional counselor. However, in the end, it’s important to remember that everyone is different, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to dealing with someone using the victim card. So, take things step-by-step and be compassionate and understanding towards the person in question.

Avoid putting labels

While dealing with someone playing the victim card, you should avoid putting labels on them explicitly. Direct accusations can worsen the issue instead of improving it. Instead, try to keep your mind and have a collaborative approach toward them and help solve their issues.

Highlight Strengths

Help them recognize their strengths and achievements. Remind them of instances where they’ve overcome challenges successfully, reinforcing their ability to take control. Demonstrate a proactive and solution-oriented approach in your own work. Model the behavior you’d like to see in them and the team as a whole.

Do not get attached

When helping someone overcome their issue, it is essential to maintain a healthy boundary for your well-being. Otherwise, you are vulnerable to being sucked into their problems and becoming a part of their toxic system. Therefore, take care to listen and offer empathy without getting involved. Moreover, take note not to fall into their manipulative tactics.

Try to break the cycle

The victim card works in a cycle that feeds itself. Trying to break it with a knee-jerk reaction will harm your relationship with the person. It would be best if you tried to intervene in the cycle gently. Blaming them straight away will not work. You might have to begin with small questions that lead them to analyze the situation and nudge them to reach acceptance.

Protect yourself

Spending a great deal of time with someone who is always playing the victim mentality is sure to take a toll on you as well. Consequently, it would be best if you took care to establish some boundaries to protect yourself from their negative influence. Read here to learn how to spot and avoid toxic people in the workplace. Putting some distance between you and them and limiting your time around them is essential for you. It would help if you always prioritized self-care.

Focus on Solutions

Encourage them to shift their focus from dwelling on problems to seeking solutions. Shift their attention toward team goals and shared responsibilities. Emphasize how their contributions fit into the bigger picture and the positive impact they can have. Offer to collaborate on finding practical ways to address the challenges they face. One of the ways to do so can be feedback on their behavior without criticizing or blaming. Frame it as a way to help them grow and improve their interactions with colleagues.

Support good behavior

Lastly, and most importantly, you can help someone overcome victim mentality if they have realized that they are frequently using the victim mentality. Supporting someone through change can be an arduous task, especially when it can create personal psychological repercussions. Still, you can make efforts to listen to them without judging and offer commitment through mild but valuable suggestions. Your perspective can be instrumental to their recovery.

Continue reading here to learn more about dealing with difficult people at work.


It can be tough to manage when someone on your team always seems to be playing the victim card. Firstly, it’s essential to understand what the victim card or victim mentality is. Further, you have to realize that this can have many adverse effects, including weakening morale and creating division within the team. Fortunately, there are a few things that you can do to deal with someone using the victim card, which the blog has listed. Keep visiting us for more insights on management and leadership! 

Overcome challenges within the team with our free conflict management toolkit

A handy guide for managers to steer their teams smoothly through hurdles

Victim Mentality at Work FAQs

How does playing the victim card affect the work culture?

If a team member frequently plays the victim card at work, it negatively impacts the team. Building relationships is harder in such a scenario. The work environment becomes toxic, resulting in employees losing interest.

What are the signs of a victim mentality?

A few signs of a victim mentality are:
– Blaming others
– Helplessness
– Negative outlook
– Resentment
– Inaction
– Lack of accountability

What is the difference between victim mentality and actual victim?

An actual victim has the concerns that they are mentioning. On the other hand, people with a victim mentality live under the false belief that they are the victim in every situation. Resultantly, they have learned helplessness and a negative outlook on issues.

What creates a victim mentality at work?

A victim mentality at work arises out of unhealthy coping mechanisms. People with a victim mentality are generally trying to avoid feelings of guilt associated with accepting blame and confronting negative situations.

Other Related Blogs

Conflict Resolution At Work

5 Secrets To Conflict Resolution At Work For Managers

5 Secrets To Conflict Resolution At Work For Managers Conflict is all too common. We often encounter this ever-present demon in our workplaces, too. The trouble is manifold for managers…

Top 5 ways for Leadership Training Emotional Intelligence

Top 5 ways for Leadership Training Emotional Intelligence The most effective leaders are not just intelligent but are emotionally intelligent. Emotional Intelligence (EI) training can enhance leadership skills because it…

Be a Star Sales Manager: Top 6 Skills needed and ways to enhance them

Be a Star Sales Manager: Top 6 Skills needed and ways to enhance them Behind every successful sales team, there is an exceptional sales manager. A sales manager is critical…

Top 15 Tips for Effective Conflict Mediation at Work

Top 15 Tips for Effective Conflict Mediation at Work As a manager or leader, you might be familiar with the conflicts that arise in the workplace. It’s not always easy…

Comments are closed.