Understanding Today's Narcissist
Understanding Today's Narcissist

Episode 36 · 4 years ago

How Not to be Your Boss' Scapegoat


  1. Understand what a scapegoat is. The purpose of a scapegoat is to pass responsibility onto someone else. Usually this person is unsuspecting at first and agrees because they are trying to get along with others. This technique of passing the buck is very common with narcissists, sociopaths, and addicts. Narcissists can’t allow their ego to be tarnished by an error. Sociopaths do it for the sport of it. And addicts do it because accepting fault in one area of their life means being accountable in another.
  2. Don’t accept liability. Looking back on the two events, Monica had an opportunity in both events to be honest with her level of responsibility. Instead, she chose to take on things that were not her fault. This did not improve her relationships as the two individuals just saw Monica as a pushover and someone they can continue to take advantage of in the future. Had she refused to be their scapegoat, a level of respect would be achieved instead of contempt.
  3. Review past experience. Her feelings of frustration over being a scapegoat ran deep. Upon further examination, Monica realized that her brother used to get her in trouble for his offenses all the time. Her parents, trying to be impartial, told the kids to “work it out.” Her brother’s idea of this was to threaten harm to her if she didn’t agree to take blame. As a demonstration of his determination, he even lit her stuffed animals on fire. Her willingness at work to make excuses for her boss and assistant was subconsciously rooted in the fear her brother instilled.
  4. Stop being the scapegoat. Once Monica separated out trauma from past events, she was able to set new boundaries. She began by issuing a written warning with her assistant about her late arrivals and notified Human Resources of her suspicious behavior. Then she researched narcissistic bosses and found other ways to feed his ego. This pacified her boss and neutralized her assistant. Despite a couple of attempts to thwart her boundaries, Monica remained firm.
  5. Expose the abuser. Monica knew that eventually she would need to expose the scapegoating technique to prevent other employees from damage. But doing this too soon would mean jeopardizing her job, so she waited and watched. When she saw another employee taking the fall for yet another blunder by her boss, Monica spoke to that person and advised them not to take on the blame. This frustrated her boss, but by then, Monica had established a good enough relationship with Human Resources that her job was secured. Once Human Resources caught on, it was only a matter of time before her boss was removed.

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...narcissistic boss, because if you don't know whether or not you're the scapegoat, you just might be it. So we're going to talk about an example that I have for you of Mike, who was a client of mine and he was trying to figure out just how he got stuck in the position of being his boss escapegoat and which meant that he was taking on unnecessary responsibility for all kinds of things. So let me give you the example and his a little bit of his story, and then we're get into what does it look like to be a scapegoat and then how you can get out of that situation if you find that you are in there, because you will not get a promotion, you will not be advanced if you continue to stay in that spot. So let's get started. Here's the story. Mark Mike's boss yelled get out of my office now, as a small paperweight was flung in his direction and actually hit the wall next to where Mike was standing. A little bit terrifying. You're a complete idiot, was his boss's parting remark to Mike. Mike was shaking from the whole entire event and was not even sure what set his boss off of that moment. The unpredictability of his moods was absolutely overwhelming on a day to day basis. Sure, right before that remark happen, Mike had some very bad news that he had to deliver. A new client had just recently been dissatisfied and decided to go with a different firm. But where Mike worked, this happened a lot and was even expected to occur to some degree. So that's why, in this instance, Mike Definitely considered his boss has overreaction as irrational and over the top. Thinking over his options. Do...

I stay, do I go? Mike knew for sure he had worked too hard to get this position, and he was also positive that he was unwilling to quit because his boss. Because of it, because his boss frequently displayed erratic behavior. He wasn't going to let him get the best of him. Yet there was another concerning behavior that Mike was we're worried about. The reason the client had left the firm is because Moss Mike's boss failed to implement one of Mike's ideas that would have improved the customer experience. When Mike proposed a suggestion, his boss immediately shut him down and refuse to listen to Mike's reasoning. Had the firm actually followed Mike's Proposal, the client would have remained and their dissatisfaction would have never even occurred in the first place. Instead, Mike's boss blamed him for the client leaving, called him an idiot and reported to his superiors that the whole thing had been Mike's Fault. This is what I mean by the term scapegoat. According to ancient Jewish tradition, and order for residents to remain within their community as clean or pure, goat was released into the wilderness after ceremonially taking on the sins of others. With all the sin cast out of the community through the goat, the people would theoretically be capable of living sinless and peaceful lives. The term scapegoat stems from this concept of one person, or in this case an animal, absorbing the mistakes of others. So the person who originally did wrong has no responsibility for the effect of their mistake. The scapegoat is usually innocent and they are the fall person for...

...those who have created the era. So you can see now why this concept is very attractive to a narcissist, and that's why Mike was made the scapegoat for his boss's poor decision. So how in the world did Mike get himself in this situation? Number one, there was a hostile environment at work. In order for a narcissistic boss to establish control, they purposefully work to instill fear into their subordinates. This can be done through threats of firing and employee just because they can, demoting someone over a small infraction, unnecessarily exposing a shortcoming and or exaggerating a minor character flaw. At the same time, the narcissist will highlight their repeated success. They'll have showy pictures of influential people displayed in their office, they'll go out of their way to be seen talking to and schmoozing with their superior and or they will appear to have ample amounts of money compared to their colleagues. This large discrepancy between the narcissistic boss and their subordinates creates a hostile workspace in which subordinates believe they can never live up to the narcissists expect expectations. This is the foundation for how scapegoating happens is this hostile work environment. The second thing that happens is micro managing insignificant matters. Another way a narcissist boss establishes control is by micromanaging their subordinates. Nothing is...

...off limits to the narcissist, from how the subordinate dresses to what they eat for lunch, to how they write an email, to when they can take a bathroom break, to what picture they can have on their desk. If it can be done wrong, a narcissistic boss will let their employees know how these small, seemingly meaningless details are practiced by the narcissistic boss, in an effort to remind the subordinate that they are really powerless in comparison to them. A narcissist especially likes to control what is normally insignificant to other managers as a way of demonstrating their pervasiveness. When the narcissist controls the small stuff, the subordinate naturally assumes larger decisions will be decided solely by the narcissist. So micromanaging insignificant matters is another way that that foundation is just built upon. The third way is showing favor. By contrast the narcissistic boss, and I mean by contrast to the previous point. The narcissistic boss will pick one person in the office to show favor towards. This person seems to do no wrong in the eyes of the narcissist. Even when they commit the exact same infraction as another employee has and it resulted in a termination, this favorite person is not punished. This favoritism is a way of highlighting that if other employees did just what the narcissistic boss asked, even if they're not, everything would be fine.

And it is a way of showing that the narcissistic boss is in control and even capable of showing kindness, because they only show it to one person to the superior of the narcissist. This is another wet, another demonstration that they are not that bad, just in case anyone complaints. So it's a way of safeguarding themselves. So we started the foundation of a hostile work environment. Then we controlled it through micromanaging insignificant matters. Now we're showing favor to one person, and then next number four is need to be the hero. A narcissistic boss will not like any idea in which they are unable to take full credit for the benefits of implementing the decision. Mike's biggest mistake and presenting his idea was telling his boss that he had already talked to the customer about it. His boss could not have Mike outshining him, so he immediately rejected the idea because he had to take Mike down. Had Mike Been Willing not to take credit for the idea and allowed his boss to be the hero in front of the client, things would have probably worked out very differently. narcissists need a constant flow of attention and just the appearance of having that attention focused on someone else was enough for Mike's boss to attack. Okay, let's go back through it again. We started with the foundation of the hostile environment. Then we have the boss micro managing over insignificant matters. Next we have them showing favor in order to demonstrate what a great person they are. Now we have created this need for the narcissistic boss to be the hero, for which Mike didn't heed to and that resulted in the attack that was coming, which is...

...the next point, the need for a scapegoat. The purpose of a scapegoat is to pass responsibility on to someone else. Usually the subordinate is unsuspecting at first and agrees because they're trying to get along with their narcissistic boss. narcissist can't allow their ego to be tarnished by an error, so they enlist a scapegoat to pass the buck. Because of the hostile environment and micromanagement, Mike was already feeling unstable at work, which left him open to being attack. The favoriteism MIC's boss showed another employee kept him hopeful that things could change. But because Mike didn't allow his boss to be the hero, Mike became his boss's scapegoat. So that's how he wound up in the position where he was the scapegoat. So what on earth can be done to reverse this? Well, here's the last point that I'm going to make. We call it reverse attack, so to we can't do anything about what happened in the past, but what we can do things about is what happens in the future. So here's what happened with Mike. To keep this from happening again in the future, Mike started out by befriending everyone in the department, and I mean everyone, the cleaning person, the assistance, the people above, the people below, the people that are as colleagues, everyone in the department. Instead of defending himself during the micromanagement attacks, Mike thanked his boss for the insights. So this was another real significant point. So when his boss called him out on his micromanager and did his micromanaging, Mike thanked his boss for pointing the...

...obvious mistake or error out. They just diffuse. It took the wind out of the sales of his narcissistic boss. Then Mike went out of his way to praise his boss to his face in front of a senior lever level manager. He saw an opportunity and he meant any just managed to just skate it in. His boss lit up, the senior manager was thrilled. It was all good. To seal the deal, Mike even went out of his way to set up a scenario where his boss could be the hero with a different client. It absolutely worked. Feeling Vulnerable and not really liking the positive attention that Mike was now getting, Mike's boss actually helped Mike to get a promotion in another department, just to keep the competition away, and this is how Mike not only managed to handle being the scapegoat, but to use that to his advantage and wound up getting a promotion in a different apartment. Mike learned from being put in the scapegoat position. Instead of running away or giving up, which you would have done in the past, Mike discovered away out of a very difficult situation that benefited both him and even, sadly enough, his narcissistic boss. So this is how you can get out from being in a position of being your boss's scapegoat. Don't let this happen to you again. Thanks for listening, to understanding to day's narcissist with Christine hand brought to you in part by Psych Central Dot Com. For more information, visit grow with Christine Dot Com.

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