Published By: Satavisha

Be A Better Coworker By Breaking Free Of These Six Negative Workplace Mind Games ASAP!

Mind games at work typically involve manipulation and deception, often resulting in rising trust issues among team members. Trust plays a critical role in effective collaboration, and compromising it can dwindle the foundation of teamwork. 

Most people wear masks at work to adopt various roles—be it a “know-it-all” leader, the unyielding manager, the affable boss, a helpful colleague, or more. Every employee engages in mind games, in varying degrees—to gain appreciation, appear more professional, be more likeable, remain diplomatic, shield themselves, or prevent offence.

However, people often refrain from collaborating effectively when they identify ulterior motives or hidden agendas at work. As a result, the free flow of ideas gets hindered and the employees’ willingness to give their best efforts toward a common goal diminishes. Therefore, to be a better coworker, it is important to identify these common negative workplace mind games and eliminate them.


Scapegoating is a lot like the “blame game”—a defence mechanism that focuses on denial through passing the blame on someone else. It occurs when someone blames a specific group, department or individual at work for their failures or larger issues within the organisation to deflect attention from the actual causes.

Some folks resort to scapegoating because they do not have effective communication skills and fail to address their concerns constructively.

Office gossiping

Office gossiping is a psychological mind game characterised by spreading negative information or rumours about clients or coworkers. It is usually done to manipulate social dynamics and generate tension. People often engage in office gossip to discredit or undermine their colleagues. It is likely fueled by feelings of heightened insecurity or to achieve a competitive advantage. Such negative mind games cause conflicts, and misunderstandings, and create a toxic work culture.

Credit stealing

Some individuals often hog the credit for other’s ideas or work, to improve their reputation and boost their status. Credit stealers are greedy for praise and recognition. This negative mind game diminishes the contribution of those who have genuinely worked hard, leaving them feeling frustrated and unmotivated. Credit stealing in any form is detrimental to workplace trust, morale, and relations. It can hamper future collaborations.


When you are over-involved in controlling or monitoring other people’s work, it indicates that you want to assert your dominance or develop an intense sense of dependency. Micromanagers often assume that without their over-the-top scrutinisation and nitpicking, no task can be accomplished. Their lack of trust and desire for perfection can annoy their colleagues, subordinates, or teammates.

Playing favourites

This game is often played by bosses, team leaders, or managers, but it is common among co-workers, too. It might involve assigning interesting projects, lighter workloads, or better opportunities to favoured individuals only.

It may also be associated with offering promotion or career development opportunities solely based on personal connections instead of qualifications or merits. In group settings, it may lead to the formation of social circles or cliques where only favoured coworkers are included, while others feel isolated. Subjecting some colleagues to preferential treatment while marginalising or excluding others will inevitably lead to resentment and factionalism.

Work martyrdom

Let us now navigate another toxic psychological mind game which is characterised by showing exaggerated willingness to work beyond usual working hours, accepting excessive workload or responsibilities, and portraying their role within the organisation as indispensable—to manipulate sympathy or gain recognition. Work martyrs like to feel important and crave attention.

Addressing negative mind games needs proactive measures that involve encouraging open communication, promoting effective conflict resolution, and fostering a healthy work culture based on trust within the organisation.