So, you have been outnumbered! Your ideas make the others cringe and they think of you as the enemy of the status quo. Your fervor irritated them and mistook it for aggression and boastfulness. It was okay at first. Healthy arguments. However, as the days went on, you noticed a strange change in your co-workers behavior, and though you hate to admit it, you have an instinct that they are talking behind your back. And then came the time when they started blaming things on you, especially when pitfalls of a project happened. Until such time when your boss called your attention and gave you a warning that you may get sacked if the tension in the office would not dissipate.
No matter how hard you reason to your boss, still he seemed blinded by group opinion, a one-sided stance that hindered him to have an objective examination of the situation. You feel lost, an outcast who has been rejected from your community. You are not at ease anymore in your surroundings, yet you feel that you cannot just back down as doing so would mean that your co-workers were right after all. And so you decided to stay and persevere at work, and promised to prove them wrong.
Scapegoating is common in workplaces with close-knit relationships. Through time, we get familiar with our co-workers in that we start considering them as our family. However, too much familiarity with each other at work can be dangerous, too. Because each member supported each other, sometimes, nobody would question anymore the soundness of ideas and decisions. And without us knowing it, we are more concerned about achieving conformity and harmony in the group rather than giving new ideas that may hurt the status quo no matter how promising they are.
Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with having harmonious relationships with co-workers. Harmonious relationships are, in fact, linked to achieving deadlines, executing plans and an overall increase in productivity. It is However, groups or cliques can become dangerous if somebody who is in opposition of the plan is blamed or considered an enemy. At times, these people may not even be in opposition to anything at all—they just refused to participate in the discussion or issue
So okay, now the group considered yourself as a scapegoat, and your challenge now is to survive and, hopefully prove them wrong in the end. But how to do it?
Examine your actions and take accountability of your own faults.
Try to reflect on your own actions. Were arguments based on logical explanations? Have you provided the right metacommunication cues that will let them fully see your intention? Nonverbal cues spell out the success of communication in the workplace and thus, misunderstood body gestures, eye contact and tone and pitch of voice may hinder you from expressing the sincerity of your thoughts.
Offer diplomacy or even friendship in tensed situations.
Think that the enemy is not the people around you but an idea, a concept that you have to beat and prove wrong. Once you acquire this kind of mindset, maintaining diplomacy may be easier to attain. At all costs, you have to be pleasant with your co-workers and show them that you can be a good member of a team, given the chance.
Take your feelings into writing.
Journaling your thoughts offer a positive outlet of pent-up emotions. Cultivating the writing habit is also a good way to channel your emotions and is proven to curb temper and aggression. Objectively writing down the events in the office will help you dissect the situation and come up with possible solutions that you can apply.
Consider seeking legal counsel when situations get worse.
Consider your situation as a legal case and that actions that may have harassed you or may cause you to lower your self-esteem is punishable by law. If you think you have tried your best to fit and comply to the culture in your office but still failed, it is time to speak up and talk the matter to people who can help you. Peer pressure is real and thus, you as the worker, should still be respected in the end. No matter how different you are, a compromise, not just done by you but by others around you should be reached.