Dealing With Mean Girls at Work

Dealing With Mean Girls at Work

11 March 2024

While we all want to believe that adulthood means the end of back talk and snarly gossip; unfortunately mean girls grow up and go to work.

The sharp silence when you walk in, the urgent staff email you were “accidentally” left off, and the snapchats of the after-work drinks you were never invited to suddenly feels eerily familiar to your dark days of high school, right?

The technical term for mean girl behavior is relational aggression – a specific type of bullying that’s more about manipulation and control than physical intimidation. This type of bullying is designed to harm the social relationships and status of an individual. And the motivation for this behavior can be anything from jealousy to the desire for popularity and power.

Sadly the long-term damage can be significant. The most common effects are low self-worth, mistrust of other women, and a reluctance to be outside of your comfort zone. And when co-workers and friends remain silent bystanders, it only magnifies the feelings of helplessness, insecurity, and low self-esteem. Women should always support each other, period!

So as a victim, how to deal? Here are a few strategies to stop mean girls from having a negative impact on your life:

  • Project power, confidence and grace. No one has the right to make you feel inferior. Don’t let them smell your fear! Adult bullies are less likely to continue with their tactics if you appear confident and in control.
  • Recognize what you can control. You have no control over what other people say or do. However, you do have control over your response. Take the high road, always. Be kind to everyone, pretty much as a rule.
  • Stand up for yourself. Bullies want their targets to be passive about their behavior. Understand your legal rights and report bad behavior to your supervisor or HR department. Be sure to log and date any instances in which she takes undue credit for your work, shuts you down in a meeting, or leaves you off an email you should have seen.
  • Find your tribe. Surround yourself with family and friends that know your worth. When the going gets tough, you’ll want these folks close by.
  • Try not to take it personally. Remember, mean girl behavior stems from insecurity and jealousy. You just happen to be the target.

Be sure to pay close attention to your feelings and emotions when dealing with an adult bully. If your mental or physical health is suffering as a result of this, do not hesitate to seek professional help.

Love and respect yourself enough so that you can refuse anything that you should no longer allow in your life.

Remember, ultimately, what you allow is what will continue.


DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms or need health advice, please consult a healthcare professional.

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