Throwing People Under the Bus: A Way of Life
Cruel, Cold World
It is a rough world out there. It is full of high-speed traffic and buses everywhere. An environmental accident/disaster, a missed field goal, low ratings, financial losses, students failing, computer crashes or bad press could all lead to someone being thrown under the bus.
Basically, being thrown under the bus occurs when someone is singled out to take all the blame for something that goes wrong or when someone is scarified for someone else’s personal gain/credit. It is definitely something that someone does to someone else, so it is a very active practice. Occasionally, someone might sacrifice herself/himself and take all the blame to try to save others.
You know what being thrown under the bus is once it happens to you. It is one of the worse feelings in the world because it is usually done by someone you know – an ally, a friend or a relative. People don’t really throw strangers under the bus. They throw people they are familiar with and know or people that they feel are a threat in some way to their own standing or life.
Are there good reasons for throwing someone under the bus?
Whatever the reason, it is not a good practice.
At some point in your adult life, you have to take responsibility for your own actions, including your own mistakes. Throwing people under the bus is just a cop out. It is also a sign of weakness.
Common reasons for throwing someone under the bus:
- To get out of trouble. Blame your brother for spilling the milk instead of admitting you did it.
- To try to gain an advantage over someone else. Slam your co-worker to make him/her look bad to your boss so you get the promotion.
- Deflect the blame. Take attention off of a mistake you made by blaming someone else and saying that it was all his/her fault.
Volunteering to get thrown under the bus is never a good idea. People don’t learn anything from that experience. The problem usually doesn’t go away and the same situation will reoccur.
It is very hard to avoid getting thrown under the bus at some point in your life. It seems the practice is so commonplace that it is a way of life. People tend to blame others to save themselves, especially in times of conflict.
Circumstances Prone to Being Thrown Under the Bus
- Conflict, Conflict and More Conflict. Be aware of tensions building up at work, people fussing and not getting along, and the green eye of jealousy coming up in conversations. These situations are prone to throwing people under the bus.
- Crisis Situations. When there is a major crisis – family breaking up or company going under, the chances of someone getting thrown under the bus increases.
- Chaos. Situations that are cloudy with undefined roles/relationships make it easy for others to be thrown under the bus.
What Can you Do, if Anything?
- Take Care of You: Define the roles and responsibilities of your job or life. Take care of what you say you are going to do. Keep evidence/records of your accomplishments. Don't be a flake.
- Don’t Run from Conflict: Face it and address it early. If you see conflicts building up around you, address it if you can and solve the easy problems before they grow. Develop an email chain around a potential problem to show that you did your part to try to stop the snowball.
- Stick up for Yourself: Be ready to defend yourself.
- Develop Relationship with Other Responsible People: Create an alliance with those who do a good job, care about the same things you care about or show some initiative in their lives. Stay away from those who just complain about everything, seem lazy and shrug off their responsibilities.
It is almost impossible to avoid getting thrown under the bus at least once in life, unless you just stay out the streets period. So be prepared for it, don’t let it get you down and know that what goes around comes around and it will eventually happen to the person who did it to you.
See you on the bus and hopefully not under it!