Female Bullies at Work. How to Work & Live with Mean Girls

by Jamie Hornbaker on November 9, 2012

When Workplace Bullies are Women

Working with a mean girl transforms what is supposed to be an adult environment of professionalism to the cattiness and backstabbing once relegated to the  junior high halls.  When your female office relations turn sinister, you have experienced a mean girl.  Behavior can be as subtle as an up-and-down judging body scan, the instant silence as you enter a group of women gossiping (seemingly about you) or an eye roll or snicker.  Mean girls and the office bully can transform your dream job into an unbearable working environment, make you question your own ability and even cost you your job.

Identifying and dealing with difficult women in the workplace is the focus of “Mean Girls at Work.”

What’s a Nice Girl to do in Dealing with the Office Bully?

Katherine Crowley and Kathi Elster, authors of the best-selling book “Working with You is Killing Me” have delved into the challenges of working with a mean girl and how to best deal with each girl and unique situation.

Crowley and Elster begin by defining what a mean girl is and how to recognize one in the workplace.  Next, they categories different types of “mean” and subsequent chapters divulge more information about their behaviors and most importantly, how to manage.

The Different Faces of Mean Girls

  • Ice Princess:  Sees All Women as Adversaries
  • Very Mean:  She’s a Vicious Gossip
  • Passively Mean:  You Overhear Her Gossiping About You
  • Doesn’t Mean to be Mean: Spreads Rumors, Doesn’t Do Her Job
  • Doesn’t Know She ‘s Mean: Bosses You Around and Offers Unsolicited Advice
  • She Brings Out Your Mean: She’s a Nonstop Talker & Thinks She’s Better than She is
  • Group Mean: Workplace Cliques that Exclude & Gossip

Understanding the mean girl and how to cope at the office

The chapter carefully dissects the mean girls by type by first identifying her behaviors and what she does, how it makes you feel, what not to do and what you should do.  The end of these chapters provides a summarized guidance on how to best manage and diffuse mean girls in action in a segment titled, “Just Between us Girls.”

“Coffee Breaks” are breakouts within each chapter designed to help you individually manage your personal situation while sections called “In Her Own Words,” provides a real mean girls story from one of the hundreds of interviews conducted by Crosley and Elster prior to writing this book.

The Cheat Sheet at the end of the books is a great takeaway to slide in a easily viewable location for you in your office.  Identifying a mean girl in action goes a long way in helping you understand, diffuse and manage your own reaction to the situation.

Help for Coping with the Stress & Mean Girl in the Office 

While reading this book, I found myself head-nodding and recanting my own mean-girl encounters.  Afterall workplace bullying is a form of harassment in the workplace.  What was sobering was realizing times that I was the mean girl and how it made someone else feel.  This book provides practical tips for dealing with difficult interpersonal communication situations and can reassure someone who is subjected to the behavior that they are not alone.  While reading about mean girls and having the ammo to deal with them won’t make mean girls (or their behavior) go away, it can help prep someone in a difficult situation develop a new-found confidence and a road map to navigate challenging work situation.  Check out there book available for purchase at major bookstores as well as Amazon.

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