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Signs of the Scapegoat

Posted on June 19, 2014 under Career & Work

Signs of the scapegoat

Have you ever been on the receiving end of unwarranted criticism or bullying in the workplace?

It doesn't feel so great.  And it is very harmful to your mental and physical health.

Much like being teased in the school yard, there is a very specific power dynamic at play. 

The perpetrator has a compulsive need to humiliate, expose, or shame the target of his or her anger. This is a result of what was missing from his/her developmental years.

Known as the bully, or in psychological circles as the narcissist, this person possesses low self-esteem. They absolutely must interact with the selected target who can momentarily create feelings of superiority and control.


In short, bullying is like a shot of self-esteem.


The narcissist can be a very charming and seductive individual to those who feed him or her the recognition, obedience, and loyalty (narcissistic supply) that is demanded.

The person who suddenly cuts off this behavior or has never conformed is a threat. They, in the bully's mind, must be dealt with early and often.

They are a threat because they might actually be better than the bully (oh no!) and they don't participate in the farce.


Enter the target or the scapegoat.


This person is typically less glamorous and grandiose than the bully. Often, the scapegoat has less power, influence, or resources in relation to the bully – an uneven pairing.

But the scapegoat has something the bully can never have, it might be talent or confidence or good-looks.  However, the bully knows they control something the scapegoat needs; like a paycheck to pay the bills.

Now, the bully gets a lot of attention. And frankly, that's EXACTLY what they crave!  So, we're going to talk about the scapegoat instead.

According to Leviticus 16:8 of the Bible, the scapegoat was a central figure in the Day of Atonement for the Jewish people.

The High Priest of Israel would select two goats: one to be “The Lord's Goat,” which was offered as a blood sacrifice, and the other to be the “Azazel” scapegoat to be cast away into the desert.

Prior, the priest whispered all the sins of the people into Azazel's ear and he set off to forever carry shame and blame of others.


What are the signs of being Azazel in the workplace?



This is unfortunately only a short list of the signs of being a scapegoat. There are many more signs of being targeted in the workplace.


If it's happening to you, have the courage to step forward. Call them out on their bull crap and reclaim your self-esteem

Please know that others care about you and there are resources – albeit not perfect, as they are nascent in the workplace – to turn to for help. 

Reach out to others and begin the process of removing yourself from a toxic situation.

Send me an email at kelley@thetruthatwork.com or book a complementary consult via the link here if you would like to speak confidentially.


-Kelley A. Joyce, MBA, CPC

Kelley is a career development coach who is dedicated to helping people discover their career path and land their dream jobs. Kelley and her partner Josh live in New York City from which she has served hundreds of professionals across the U.S., U.K., and Australia since 2012 to radically change their relationship with work.

Serious about hiring professional career help? Let's talk live via video; book your consult here

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