Stop Being the Scapegoat in the Workplace!

January 6, 20201:54 pm4600 views
Stop Being the Scapegoat in the Workplace!
Stop Being the Scapegoat in the Workplace!

It was a sunny happy day – until out of nowhere, the manager asked you to come to his room. Your manager showed you a messy report with a frown. But the thing is, you don’t recognise the report as yours. While you really wanted to defend yourself as he blamed you for the report you did not make, you could not say a thing because you were so drained after long working hours. So you got out of the room with a foul mood, approaching your coworker’s desk and saying, “It was not my fault, why did the manager put the blame on me?” 

Getting blamed for someone else’s fault does not just feel crappy but also puts you in a difficult situation. You probably have the right to defend yourself but sometimes, if you defend yourself without solid proof, you will just look like a fool in front of the higher-ups. On the other hand, if you do not speak up at all, you might be seen as being petty and dishonest.  

See also: 5 Common Biases Leaders Possess & 2 Solutions that Help

What to do, then? There would be times when accepting the blame seems to be the best option, but there are also times when you need to explain and tell the truth. So when are the right times? Read more… 

When the blame is minor 

When the blame is not harmful to both your reputation and the company, saying “I am sorry” or “It won’t happen again” will be great. Saying these phrases in such a situation would be helpful more than offering an explanation. Besides, there are chances that you will make the situation more complicated by explaining it further.

When the blame is major 

If you think that the scapegoating could risk your reputation at work, or worse it could risk your job, then offering a thorough and proper explanation will be the best way. Afterall, one should not take the blame for the mistake they never did. When this happens, here’s what you can do. 

1 – Reach out to the team

When you are accused of making mistakes while the fact is that it was your coworker’s doing, you need to make sure the truth gets documented. In any situation, it is better for you to take note of every blame that was not your fault. When serious mistakes happen and the boss complains to you instead of your coworkers, you can forward the original message to them and said, “The boss seems to think that I messed up the report but I believe it’s not mine.” 

If your colleague has integrity, he will directly jump into the conversation to clear your name and avoid the misunderstanding. However, you should be aware that not everyone will take this kind of huge responsibility. Make sure that you know the personality of the person first before reporting the blaming mistake, otherwise, it might add a new problem for you and your co-worker. 

2 – Pay attention to your word choice 

When a workmate screwed up things but for some reason the manager blames you, you can clear up the misunderstanding by saying, “I think there’s some confusion regarding this matter, can we discuss it in an urgent team meeting this afternoon?” The phrase can give your manager some time to calm down while assuring him that you will take the responsibility if it really is your fault. Additionally, he will see you as a mature worker as you have the courage to explain things without making it worse by shouting or yelling back. 

Likewise, before the said meeting, you should get back-ups and collect your evidence to show everyone that it was not you who did the fatal mistake and the person involved will come admitting their errors and take responsibility.  

3 – Understand your coworker’s perspective 

So you know you’ve been scapegoated and you even know who does it. But why don’t they tell the truth? There might be a real sad story behind it. So, why not try to invite the person for a one-on-one coffee conversation and ask him to tell his story? It might be hard for you to accept the truth of being blamed over things that are not your fault, but the said person might also be in a hard situation as well. By having a sincere understanding of the situation, this might open their heart and mind, then giving them the courage to tell the real story to the manager. 

Read also: How to Switch Anger to Your Success Advantage

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