Wendy Hanson 0:24
Welcome, everyone. It's so great to have you here today. As we all strive to be better leaders and managers, it's important that we take time to look what gets in our way. On today's show, we're going to talk about victim mentality. My guest Chris Joyner will share his personal experience, and then we'll discuss how to recognize it and deal with it when it shows up in members of our team, or maybe with peers. So let me tell you a little bit about Chris and why you should be very excited to hear this podcast. Chris is the founder of joiner advising Group, a team of leadership consultants, executive advisors, and coaches that partner with forward looking leaders around the nation to help them navigate their most significant challenges and opportunities. Over the last decade, Chris has facilitated hundreds of adaptive leadership, team development and strategic planning sessions for large corporations as well as small businesses and nonprofits. Chris was certified with the international coach Federation in 2017, and has personally advised and coached 100 plus senior executives and leaders from the largest companies and privately held businesses in energy, healthcare, telecommunications, insurance, and media publishing. He is definitely a thought leader and a contributing author on leadership effectiveness for business journals. He has a proven track record to create alignment with organizations so they can deliver sustainable results. So welcome, Chris, I'm delighted to have you on happy to be here. And I really admire you, Chris, because you stood back and looked at an issue that personally impacted you. And that takes courage and awareness, oftentimes, you know, that's a very big thing with leaders, you know, we need to put the mirror up to ourselves. And, and, and that's a really important attribute of a good leader. Because many times people feel as a victim, but they may not recognize it, you have really worked on studying this, you know, looking at your own self and looking at the research. So tell us a little bit about how did you get to as you get started on this, like, what was it that happened and your Realization, from that personal standpoint? And then we'll look at how we help others?
Chris Joyner 2:45
Yeah, well, you know, I think Wendy, the the personal standpoint, started with a scene, it's so often in others, so it'd be unfair to say I started by seeing it in myself. I saw it in others, and I saw it in organizations. And I was blown away by how many people took that posture of a victim mindset. And maybe we could even the way we would define it is victim mentality is characterized by the persistent blaming of others, for one's own failures or disappointing results. So it did those start by me seeing it in others, and begin speaking and addressing and coaching and advising around that. But then, and I think we'll get here, it really led to a point in my life where I had to recognize that I had been taking that posture is well,
Wendy Hanson 3:37
yeah. And and that's, that is a great thing when you first see it in other people. And then you're like, Oh, this sounds very familiar. Maybe this too. And yeah, how did you stand back and look at that yourself, then when you have that realization?
Chris Joyner 3:52
Yeah, it, it actually came because it was prompted by a really good question by a partner at a firm I used to work for and he's also a friend, I would consider a good friend. And he called me one day and he shared, he basically asked me, Chris, are you doing okay? And that question, was sort of this. Kind of like the sudden insight, no. Okay. They notice, they notice I'm responding in ways that are not typical of how I would respond. And so I'll give you a quick rundown. Basically, we've gone through some challenges back in 2013. And they lasted about 19 months, we were down being paid 28% less compensation. I mean, it was pretty significant. And I began to fall into a rut of blaming all of that on the decisions that were being made. Ultimately, even to the point Believe it or not, that my son wanted some Legos for his birth. And Legos are very expensive if you if people have kids, they know that. And I didn't even feel like we should, it was wise to spend the money. And then I began to make a connection, that I'm not that good of a provider because of their bad decisions. And that's when I became a victim. And that's when I really lived into the victim mentality. Of course, not a real victim. We know that, but having that victim mentality. And and I began to feel that, but it was the question from this former colleague and partner who said, Are you doing okay? Because you don't seem yourself? And that was really that way that that thing that caused me to have some insight and awareness?
Wendy Hanson 5:43
Yeah, that's powerful. I was doing some research to on on on Google and, boy, it shows up victim mentality shows up on Web MD, you know, is it really Yes, I know that there were a lot of health sites that talked about victim mentality. And I was like, Wow, this is so prevalent. There's a Wikipedia page with all of the research on victim mentality. So I know we've talked a lot on on former show is about imposter syndrome. But this is a very different kind of animal, you know, that we have? What? What made you feel like you wanted to come out and share these lessons with people, because you certainly had an "A-ha" moment, and you have a knowledge base about this. And you're very aware and you coach others, why did you come out and want to share this, because it is corrosive?
Chris Joyner 6:34
It is it's it was corroding things in my life relationships. I mean, not, you know, not to the point of of them falling apart, but, but I felt that that it was corroding my joy. It was corroding, peace, contentment, all those things that are so important, I think, for our health. And I did not know that it was talked about on Web MD and other places. But it doesn't surprise me, because it is so corrosive. And unfortunately, it's so common. It is just it's so common. And if we're talking about a continuum here, right, Wendy, right, there are people who it's really, really, really bad. And then there's a little bit most of us are on that continuum somewhere. And hopefully, we're we're not where it's so bad, where it controls our lives. And so that's really what, what really drew me to begin helping leaders. So not even just the personal aspect, but then to help others is because I saw people who had created a false choice between compassion, and care, with accountability and holding people accountable in a healthy way. And those are not mutually exclusive. In fact, we can care for people by helping them come out of their victim mentality, and being healthy, you know, individually.
Wendy Hanson 8:02
I'm curious to in what you have seen, like people that have a tendency to blame others, it seems like to me it could become a habit. That's really hard. You know, habits are hard to break. But have you? Have you noticed that?
Chris Joyner 8:18
Yeah, yeah, the longer someone has played the victim and the more times that their victimhood has been, what's the word I'm looking for approved of, or recognized, right? validated, the longer that happens, the more difficult it is to change. Because what happens is if if the person's played the victim for a long time, and in many scenarios, they've had people rescuing them, that's how they've gotten through life. And so when you stand in, maybe you're unwilling to, to rescue that individual. They think you're the problem, right? And so it can be very difficult. And typically, the boundaries of professionalism when we are in victim mentality, including myself, our boundaries of professionalism, really, kind of a road, and we'd become unprofessional. So now we'll do and say lots of different things to protect, protect our own victim mentality. Yeah.
Wendy Hanson 9:21
So that awareness of getting it out in the open and realizing it is, is really the big as with everything, right, when we try to teach people new habits, I always say don't do these right now. Just be aware of it. Yes. Because Yeah, weirdness is everything and that will move us on? Yeah,
Chris Joyner 9:38
yeah. Yeah. If you can't, you can't act until you have the awareness. Right. But then once you have the awareness, you can begin practicing and acting in different ways. Yeah.
Wendy Hanson 9:47
Chris, you wrote a great article, which kind of got us talking the four essential leadership principles for addressing victim mentality. And I think that this is, you know, I appreciate your personal viewpoint, and then the fact that you saw this and others, and I think the more people understand it, the more that they'll be able to deal with it. So let's look at, kind of dive into these one at a time. The first is, is understand your role and responsibility. Tell me a little bit more about that.
Chris Joyner 10:17
Yeah, I mean, I think one of the ways we put it when we work with clients, is we help clients take off the wrong way off their shoulders, so they can effectively and healthily carry the right weight. If you as a leader are carrying the wrong weight, you will be less effective at carrying the right weight. And that comes down to sort of this role and responsibility. What are what is our role as a leader? What are our responsibilities? And and where did those end? Of course, they're interconnected. But where did those those now transfer to someone else's role and responsibility? And at the core of the dysfunction of victim mentality, and the way we play in that organizationally, or report, familia Lee, right, is that a word familiarly in the family,
I gotta go with what go with it.
But at when that's happening, usually people are taking are carrying other roles and responsibilities that they shouldn't be. And so just to simplify that a little bit, to be clear, the key is that we have to understand the right boundaries. Because if we don't, we're going to carry unnecessary anxiety and stress, and then we're going to operate out of that anxiety. And that stress.
Wendy Hanson 11:39
Yeah, yeah. Makes sense. And the second one, we talked about it a little bit in terms of rescue is resist the superhero urge. Yes.
Chris Joyner 11:50
Yeah, but but Wendy, it's so fun. It's so fantastic to play the superhero, right? To put on the cape and then go right and come to the rescue, because, you know, it makes us feel good, right sometimes to do that. But here's what happens. When we, when we rescue someone who has victim mentality, we're actually doing three things here. I think, number one, what we're doing is we are validating their belief that they are a victim. That's powerful, we're actually validating in them their belief that they're the victim. Okay. Number two, we're also we're also telling them that there is someone who's persecuting them, whether it's an individual or group of people or institution, whatever it may be, but there's always a face behind every everything, right. And then number three, and perhaps the most attractive to us when we want to rescue is, is that we we look at that person, and we're telling them, you need me, you need me, and I'm fantastic. And I'm awesome. And, and, and you can't do it without me. And so there's really a little bit of sort of a codependent relationship that happens often within I'm not it's like, psychologists or psychiatrists, but, but there is some COVID dependence that happens there. And so what we teach is, you know, asking the right questions of someone who has victim mentality and focusing on the underlying issue and providing a context for them to reflect. So let me pause there, because maybe you want to take that in a
Wendy Hanson 13:29
certain direction. Yeah. No, that that, that makes sense. And the superhero thing I sometimes we can't even recognize if we have our cape on or not. It's the same, right? Yeah. Correct. comes to habit.
Chris Joyner 13:42
Yeah. It becomes a habit. And listen, here's the power. When we have colleagues who have an understanding of the framework, they actually are able to let us know, hey, that's not your job. You don't need to rescue that person they need to be responsible for that we can give them we can give them opportunity to make healthy choices, to step out of their victim mentality. But we can't do it for them. They need to do it for themselves. So having colleagues who have a have the understanding is really where the power comes, because you are going to be weak at times, and I'm going to be weak at times and we're going to fall prey. We're going to be victims ourselves. Right. And but then we're also going to be the rescue ourselves. And we need each other to go No, no, no, no, you're not seeing it clearly right now. Let me partner with you and help you.
Wendy Hanson 14:32
Yeah, may I give you some feedback? This is what I'm seeing that yes. Be seeing. And that's why we need to have trust with our colleagues so that these yes, these types of observations can come out.
Chris Joyner 14:46
Let me point one thing out real quick. You just hit the you know, the importance of trust. And what we have found in our work with clients is that when they share a language, then it's easier and it's more trusting. To be able to ask the question, right? They're not searching for the right phrase or word. They're using words and phrases that have been taught to the leadership team. So that they go okay. That's what you mean. Okay, I get that. Yeah. That's just a little bit of a side note. I think it's important.
Wendy Hanson 15:16
Yeah, labeling things are important. So we all know that we're talking about the same thing and what that looks like. Yes, yes. So for that, just regroup a little for those that are listening leadership principles we talked about understand your role and responsibility, resist the superhero urge. And the next one is expect expect blame shifting and disruption?
Chris Joyner 15:37
Yeah. Yeah. So as you as we resist the urge to rescue because here's the deal if someone has been rescued, they are they're trying to keep the anxiety on us. So that we have our own anxiety rescue them from accountability. Does that make sense? Yes. Okay. And so what what happens is, we have to be prepared that when we stand up and go, No, but we're not talking about that part, we're actually talking about this what you said or did, and you have to take responsibility, we should not expect the first time we approach address that for the person to go. Oh, my goodness, thank you so much. I can't believe how much you have served me with your wisdom and your kindness and your insight. Yeah. Yeah, that's not the way it works. No, we should expect multiple rounds of blame shifting and disruption. And one of the things our clients know that we like to say, creating confusion is the ultimate strategy to evade responsibility and avoid accountability. And so they're going to stir up, you see this with people who tend to play the victim, they're going to create chaos around them, because they're pointing all these different dresses. So here's the deal. What we have to do, as the leader, and as leaders is, is we need to focus and reframe the issue back to the the exact thing we're bringing to them and say, but this is what we're talking about today. There may be lots of other things. And then we have to give them the choice. Most people think give them the choice. What do you mean, yes, we invite them into health. But that choice is within the construct of our mission, our vision, our values and our strategy. Here's where we're headed. Do you want to be a part of that and go forward with us?
Wendy Hanson 17:36
What I hear in that too, is we need to keep it simple because somebody with a victim mentality is going to try to make it complex. Yes. And you've got to be able to hone in and say, here's what has to happen. Yeah,
Chris Joyner 17:47
yes. And here's the thing, if they're able to get us again, and everybody right here, so saying, We play the victim sometimes then when we play the victim, when I play the victim, I want to create confusion. So I can't be held accountable. Right. I mean, that's what we do as humans. But here's the thing, if we take any one of the things that they have pointed to as a disrupter, and as confusion creation, then then we would have been better off not addressing this in the first place. In fact, what happens is we end up going on an adventure and missing the point.
Wendy Hanson 18:21
Yeah. Right. And adventure blame shifting disruption, confusion. Right, that sounds like a bad road in a dark way. Right. I love that. And then the fourth principle is, wait, wait, wait, go to a victim mentality. Say we're about that.
Chris Joyner 18:43
Yeah. So when we give them you know, the, we reframe the issue back to the individuals responsibility to choose their way forward, right? within the constructs of our mission, vision value strategy, we, instead of doing something like this, Wendy, hey, we need you to do this, okay? That's the wrong way. And why? Because you know what the person is going to say, they're going to say, Okay, and then they're going to walk out and do whatever the hell they want. Sorry, I hope I hope that's okay. You've got pros. They're going to go out and do whatever they want. They're just going to say, okay, but when we presented as, here's where we're headed, here's our strategy, vision mission, here's what's acceptable, our values. Are you willing to commit to that? Then they're actually making the statement and saying yes, but here's the thing. Most leaders ask decent questions, if it's not good, but they do not wait for an answer. And in fact, they often answer it themselves. asked a good question. And then be quiet. Let silence do the heavy lifting. And here's the thing, you know, this is counting counterintuitive for us to wait, it's counterintuitive when our anxiety is high, because anxiety is high when we're dealing with difficult challenges. it's counterintuitive, because what we really want to do is bring the anxiety down, right? When we need the anxiety to be at a peak
Wendy Hanson 20:17
on the waiting piece, Wow, that's so important. Because we've seen this so many times, we actually have something on BetterManager in our library that we did an animation called the pause, because the boss, whether you're in sales, or whether it's a question, if you ask somebody a really good question. They're gonna, they're going to slow down their actions, you know. And so that, that waiting and not jumping in and that because then we could get back into rescuing. But you know, let let the silence because silence is a very important tool that as leaders, we need to know how to use that and just be it. Is he patient with the situation? Yes. Yeah. The pause, pause. Yes. Yeah, I coached the salesperson once who was trying to work with some of his sales people. And he realized, every time they don't, somebody doesn't answer right away, they jump in and they go give them a different deal or a better deal rather than just yeah, pause, just pause. Yeah. comes all over the place. Great. So understand your role or responsibility, resist the superhero urge, expect blame shifting and disruption, and just wait, great principles for this. So when you have people on your team, let's let's get this pragmatic now of how are we going to take these principles and and really put them into action? When people on your team are acting as victims? You know, what are some tips for, for handling that, Chris?
Chris Joyner 21:51
Yeah. The first is addressing early Do not Do not wait, it's so easy to deal with, even if it's somebody who is a great person, a team member, right? Even if they're a great team member, address it, ask the question. And then number two, I would say sort of philosophically or, you know, as his philosophy of leadership, I would encourage you that we encourage our clients be transformational at the beginning, as transformational as possible. And as time goes on, and things are ineffective, then you become more transactional and technical mccaleb. Can would it be helpful to explain that a little bit? Yeah. Yeah. At the beginning, transformational is what my is a little bit about what what a little bit the way the colleague and the partner at my old firm handled it. He said, Hey, are you doing okay? Because you don't seem yourself. It's an observation, it's a reflection back. Share your observations with the individual? Hey, here's what I'm noticing. There seems to be a shift or a change. Or I was surprised to see how you responded in that meeting? Is something going on behind sort of, you know, that that I'm on aware of transformational approach is to get at the root of the issue? The adaptive issue, what's causing the fruit, right, what's causing the symptoms, if you will, to use a different analogy? Be curious, ask open ended questions that can lead to greater insight and awareness of the unhelpful or damaging activity. So that so that next steps can be identified. And taken, right now, the next steps are the individuals next steps. They're their next steps. Yeah, we can support encourage, but they're their next steps. And then finally, if this is ineffective, like I said, then we move more directive, more tactical and transactional, if this vendor, right? Yeah. So
Wendy Hanson 24:01
there's a lot of self reflection that would come from somebody saying, Are you okay, you know, just very basic. And I love that piece. Yeah. And curiosity. You know, like, yeah, don't make assumptions that you understand why this is happening. Go.
Chris Joyner 24:18
Yeah, bingo. That is the if you know, one of the foundational pieces that we do within answer better managers in your work. The bottom line is, if you're not curious, you're not going to get to the real issues. You just will not. Be curious. Be open, be open minded. Does that mean you don't have an interpretation? No, we always have an interpretation, but we hold our interpretation loosely. We hold it open hands, so that we can be proven 5% off the mark or 95% off the mark. And oh boy, the number of times. I've saved myself by just pausing for a second and going okay, be curious. Don't take that don't believe that too strongly. And then I found out one piece of information that changes everything.
Wendy Hanson 25:07
Yes, yes. Yeah, that's brilliant. Because it really is it. We have to, because it will, it will really color all of our future interactions. If we believe we're heading for this just and it's very different. Yeah. So what are some simple questions that people can ask themselves? You know, and maybe from both sides from the, from the, if you if you're asked, Wow, what's going on with you? Is there something happening? Or also from the manager side?
Chris Joyner 25:38
Yeah, I think I think about it. So it's what can we ask and sort of what can we do like maybe even change our language? Let the enchained to explore this a bit? I think most of us. Most of us use phrases like I had to, I'll be forced to I don't have any other choice far too often. Far too often. And I think, you know, we you've heard the phrase, I don't know who it's attributed to. But you've heard the phrase, you know, words create worlds. Right. And, and I think sometimes we use utilize phraseology that that sort of casts us in the posture of a victim. And so I've had to, I've gotten rid of those things. So in an email, I had a colleague, a former former colleague, with our company, who was missing the mark with a client, and really on some basic stuff. And when I found out I began reaching out, email, text, phone messages, and I wasn't hearing anything. And my final email, it wasn't the final, but it could have been the final email, if you know what I mean. That was I changed it from I will be forced to assign a new coach to I will assign a new coach, see how dif it's interesting. It's subtle, but it matters. I'm not forced to do anything, I own the company, right? If I want us to go down in a in flames, I've got to do that. But I don't want that. And I'm not going to do it and allow it. So
Wendy Hanson 27:21
yeah, I love that you point to something that that we have great ability to change, which is really look at your emails before you send them out. And notice your language. Yes, he could do that you have you have a chance to sometimes when things fall out of our mouth, we do not have a chance to pull them back. And that really creates problems. But in any trial, you know, you have a chance to say, Wow, how is this going to be taken? And and am I taking that leadership position of I have ownership of this? I can do exactly that.
Chris Joyner 27:53
Yeah. Right. Yeah. That's another thing, Wendy, that I would add is, you know, if somebody is consistently frustrated with a scenario, I really encourage them to look at their options. I actually say I want you to go out and consider all potential options. And unless you're a real victim, you have other options. Now, they may not, they may not be great options. And if and they're not going to be pain free options. But here's the deal. When people take ownership of their own lives by saying, I'm going to see what other things I can do, what are my options, it gives them the control back in the power the appropriate power for themselves and for their families. And whether or not you make the change, right, whether or not you choose a different option, what I find is that most people's attitudes and perspectives are shifted, because now they're choosing to remain in the current scenario. They're choosing it themselves. They're not the victim of the scenario. They are saying I'm a part of this one. Is that Is that helpful? Yeah, that is, that is because we all have choices in life. And if you want to stay where you are, don't stay anywhere where you feel like you're a victim, either change that mentality, or go ahead and find something else. And that's right. Shocking, even as a self realization. Yes, he can. That's exactly right.
Wendy Hanson 29:18
So as we close up a little bit, what what's the alternative to having a victim mentality? Like, what's the other side of the coin?
Chris Joyner 29:27
I, you know, we we talk about it as ownership. And we, we, you know, there's probably a lot of different words we could use. And, and in fact, we, we draw a distinction with with within our work between ownership and buy in buy in and ownership people. I think most of us use those interchangeably. synonymously, like we need buy and we need ownership. But really, and this is a little bit tangential, but I think it connects here. By in, even in its free theology, it puts the leader In the role of salesperson and sales, people are always interested in telling you what's going to go right. And so when we seek buy in, we're hole propping something up with all the potential benefits and none of the none of the challenges. And so when people then accept it, and they buy in with their time, their energy, right, then what happens is they hit roadblocks that we didn't tell them about, and who do they blame. They blame the salesperson. Right? The leader, the leadership, and ownership, we view it, that's more of a process of engaging people in our own in our own challenges, it doesn't mean that decisions don't have to be made, that are going to disappoint people that that's leadership. But the process builds a stronger foundation from which we can launch and so so I could The reason I bring all that up, and that's somewhat tangential is that when we reject victim mentality, we are taking full ownership over our lives, we're taking full ownership over our wins. That doesn't mean that people didn't help us, it doesn't mean that we're cocky or arrogant, but we're taking full ownership over our disappointing results. We're taking ownership over our failures. And it's really in that where you can be fulfilled, and you can grow and learn. So that's kind of how we view it. Yeah,
Wendy Hanson 31:21
I love that. The the ownership piece, if we, if we have that, and we own it, we can really stand back and feel proud of what we're able to do. Because we've we've owned it and and as you say we'd ever get anyplace by ourselves, like his life is a team sport, in many, many ways. So this has been fascinating and and I think, you know, there are people that this is really going to resonate with them personally. And with them as they look at other people. And sometimes these things get in our head and they percolate. So if people want to talk to you more about it want to learn more about join our advising group, what's the best way for them to find you, Chris,
Chris Joyner 32:04
lots of options, join our advising group.com. And you can contact us through there. I don't mind if people have my email as well, Chris at Chris joiner calm. But But LinkedIn, you know, and that'll be in the show notes I imagine that people can connect with with us there and sort of the thought leadership that we have videos, articles, etc. But, you know, my encouragement, really to the audience today is press in to this type of stuff. And practice it and get better at it, you know, practicing the the not rescuing and learning to reframe, and help people see something a little differently. It takes time. It just it's not natural for most people. But the more you do it and learn about it, the better you get at doing it. And then when you're getting better at doing it, you also become someone who can coach and advise and consult others in so
Wendy Hanson 33:04
and this will help you in your business and your personal life. So this is one of those big overlaps. Yeah. And in the show notes, we're gonna put a link to to the article you wrote for essential leadership principles. So people will be able to see that. So thank you so much for taking the time today to educate people on this. I think part of what we try to do at BetterManager is to get this wisdom out there so that people really have a chance to think, how am I going to make a difference in work and that and that means how am I going to thrive at work? How am I going to make sure that others thrive that work for me, so real important information. So thank you so much, Chris. Great to be with you. My pleasure. Great to be with you. So thank you, everyone. Go out and make it a fabulous day and be powerful. Yes, yeah. Take Take your power back in certain situations and make sure that that you're all doing the right thing to be able to thrive in this world. Have a wonderful day.