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Baskar Sundaram

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There are many psychological games that people play on a daily basis. These “games” as Eric Berne calls them, are a set of ulterior transactions with some type of benefit gained at the end of it. Benefit is usually physiological or social. People are not usually unaware of these games as they are embedded into our society and way of thinking. By paying attention to the conversations you have, you can identify those people who avoid responsibility.

Here is how you can spot the slacker at work:

The “But” Game

This is the person who brings up a problem but when you offer a solution they come up with excuses. Each piece of advice or suggestion is followed by the words “Yes,but…”

This is a very common form of finding an excuse. No matter what you suggest this person will have a knack for finding a different reason.

Finally when the suggestions come to an end, this person feels like they have won the argument. This will give a psychological payoff of winning a game. The person feels accomplished knowing that they have tried all the possibilities but it was impossible to find a proper solution.

Such people never wanted a solution in the first place but wanted a justification for not trying. By getting a second person involved they are proving to themselves and others that it is “impossible” to solve this issue.

The Perpetual Excuse

This is a person who has had a major disadvantage in life and uses that as an excuse for their lack of motivation and disastrous behaviour. They usually use the excuse of coming from a broken home, someone’s death etc.

These people want others to know that they are helpless and they deserve to be excused because of this “handicap”.

If the disadvantage is major there is a need to accept it in certain domains of life. But it is a red flag when people use their disadvantage to get out of situations and to avoid taking responsibility for their actions. It becomes a perpetual excuse used to gain sympathy.

The Dumb Questioning

These are people who are not that dumb but ask irrelevant or stupid questions to seem dumb. They go out of their way to make mistakes to make it seem like they are “stupid” or “innocent”.

They usually continue this dumb act till someone caves and actually calls them “dumb” and does the task for them.

The best payoff for such a type of person is that they can avoid taking responsibilities under this persona of “I’m too dumb”. It is also used as an excuse when they make mistakes. They simply laugh it off with the explanation of being “dumb”.


These are just some of the many games that people play on a regular basis to avoid taking responsibility. Such people never complete any task properly or on time.

Watch out for these cues in others and in yourself. Psychological gameplay has been embedded into our culture and society for so long that we start participating in such games from a young age. By understanding how each game works, you can correct yourself and also predict the behaviour of other people. Being aware of these games allows you to be honest to yourself and others. This in the end is the biggest payoff.



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