Victims blame others for their circumstances. Have you ever heard someone say the boss was out to get him or her? Victim. How about the person who blamed a missed deadline on the guys in accounting who "didn't get the report to me on time?" Victim.
Co-workers with a victim syndrome constantly complain about everything bad that's happening in their lives. What's worse, they don't believe they have any ownership or control of the situation, so in their eyes, everything is being done to them. They often suspect there's some huge universal conspiracy that is firmly rooted against their success. And they love to talk about it.
It can be hard to tell someone that he or she is always negative, so try telling him or her what you really need: more positive engagement in your day. Try, "I've noticed that whenever we chat, the conversation tends to focus on the negative. I don't know about you, but I work better when I'm surrounded by positivity. Why don't you tell me about something that's going well for you?"
You can also ask what they could have done to avoid the situation, a strategy that works well with your employees. For example, "That's too bad. What could you have done differently to make sure the accounting report was in your hands on time?"
The next time you feel yourself getting sucked into a negative workplace vortex, don't let it it drain your dry — try one of these techniques to deal with it, and bring some positivity back into your office.