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'Career doctor' Liz Bentley: How to stop playing the victim game once and for all

The executive career coach tells Know Your Value founder Mika Brzezinski about the dangers of playing the victim at work and focuses rather on how women can maintain control of problematic situations.
Liz Bentley is the founder and president of Liz Bentley Associates, a consulting firm specializing in leadership development programs.
Liz Bentley is the founder and president of Liz Bentley Associates, a consulting firm specializing in leadership development programs.Anthony Scutro

Playing the victim at work isn’t fun for anyone. Sure, there are times when your feelings may be warranted, such as the unfortunate event of being bullied or harassed in the workplace. Yet there are many other times when a shift in your mindset could go a long way for a more favorable outcome.

Let’s say, for example, that you feel like no one is listening to you in meetings. Instead of feeling victimized, learn new strategies or ways that will make it easier for people to listen to you. Remember that more often that not, you can take responsibility and take charge so that you get the outcome you’re looking for.

That was the takeaway from Know Your Value founder Mika Brzezinski's chat with executive career coach Liz Bentley. Here are her top five tips:

Change your mindset

“Mindset is everything,” Bentley said. “How you think, how you feel, what’s going on inside your body drives all of your actions and all of your intentions.”

When you have a positive mindset, good things will likely follow.

When working with clients, “we have to figure out what’s going on in the inside and what their inner voice is saying,” Bentley said. That is what is impacting all the ways a person is “showing up.” You can shift your mindset by diving into the source of that mindset.

No excuses, no blame

Take responsibility for your own actions, Bentley encouraged. This calls for a concentrated effort away from making excuses or putting the blame on others. Accountability goes a long way in the workplace—and in any other part of your life.

Use your ego as a strength

According to Bentley, ego can be our greatest strength or our greatest weakness. “It can propel us up, and it can sabotage us all the way down,” she said. “When it’s working for us, it gives us the ability to push ourselves and do things that we’re scared of, to take risks,” she explained. “It also gives us faith—the ability to have resilience and grit when times are tough.” In addition, it allows for vulnerability.

When confidence becomes arrogance, on the other hand, it creates fear and shuts down vulnerability.

Acknowledge triggers

When we get triggered, often times we feel it in our body, whether that’s our gut, neck, head or chest. After feeling a physical response, we tend to shut down our listening and become what Bentley calls “emotionally hijacked.” If this happens in the workplace, it’s important to stay neutral and avoid going into flight or fight mode. “Find out what’s really happening,” Bentley said. “Try to get your emotions under control and just listen.”

You can feel free to step away or state that you need to think about this matter and will revisit it in the near future. This will give you time to cool down and think about the situation objectively. If you’re speaking to someone who also seems triggered, it’s also helpful to acknowledge that and to avoid getting triggered back.

Celebrate past wins

When having moments of self-doubt, especially if you are experiencing a change or are taking a big risk, boost your self-confidence by reminding yourself about your past accomplishments.

Look at all the great things you’ve done over the years and replay some of those moments in your mind if you’re doing something scary, Bentley suggested.

“At the end of the day, you can only believe in yourself,” Bentley said. “You have to be your number one fan.”