You come back from lunch and your coworker is going through your desk. You walk over and ask him what he's doing. “Oh, our committee needed those color dry erase markers that you have for our presentation. Since you are at lunch, I figured you wouldn't mind if I borrowed them." You feel violated. You respond, "Actually I do mind. Please never go through my desk again. If you need to borrow something, just ask me.” He says, "Really? I thought we were beyond that,” and walks away hurt and dejected. You feel bad. You just got shifted.
Shifting the blame is when someone violates or hurts you and then shifts the blame back to you. My question is, “Who
violated who?" Almost all sexual abuse and domestic violence employs blame shifting. My made-up example may seem obvious, but when it catches you off guard in the moment and is perpetrated by a skilled shifter, it can be difficult to detect.
Your coworker asks you to stop by his desk and tell her which of the proofs you like the best. You pick out the proof you like and as you walk away she says, "Just send me an e-mail itemizing what you liked about this proof over the others." You just got shifted.
Shifting the work is when you do work or request assistance and it somehow gets turned around so you do all the work. These types of shifters are masters at always leaving the ball in your court. They are playing on the fact that most people avoid confrontation and would sooner do the e-mail than deal with the discomfort.
You're typically left with 2 options: Allow or disallow the shift.
So you're at a meeting and you offer an idea that solves the problem at hand. The other people (not your boss) tell you to write that up, get quotes, and present it at the next meeting. Just tell them, "No way. I had the idea. Someone else can do the work."
About the Author
I, Michael Hoffman, am a licensed psychotherapist, teacher, and author with 25 years experience in counseling and teaching experiential workshops. I have maintained this blog since 2009, and my second book Natural Way of Being will published in 2019.
I offer in-person and video-conferencing counseling, intensive workshops, and online courses to allow participants to directly experience their natural way of being and the life they would have for themselves.