Women Behaving Badly in the Workplace

Women Behaving Badly

Author’s name kept private to protect her from badly behaving coworkers

I feel like I’m living a popularity contest at work.

In the past few months, if you were stalking my Google searches, you may have stumbled across things such as “dealing with a toxic coworker,” “women behaving badly at work” or “what to do when your coworker stops being your friend.”

This crap has gotten in my head and I am sick of over-analyzing it. I just want to move on. Before I do, let me share some quick thoughts on the topic with all of you.

I work in what should be a professional environment, but unfortunately I’m now in a team environment of all women who thrive on building themselves up by cutting others down. The worst part is I was extremely close to one of them women before joining this team.

The way the women in question handle this is brilliant. It is so subtle they can make others think I am the crazy one for finding the situation difficult to work in. A great example of how I know I am not crazy is overhearing two of the women talking about me when they didn’t know I was there or turning around to see one coworker blatantly messaging another “making fun” of me. Seriously, in a professional environment, this is happening. A handful of the worst offenders have grown children!

The only thing I can come up with is that I must be a threat. Maybe it’s because I am their equal instead of their subordinate? Maybe I am better at my job than they are and they know it? Those hypotheses make me sound rather conceited but that is not at all how I mean it. I know I am good at what I do and perhaps I’ve reached a stage in my career where that is now a threat to others.

To further compound the situation, blaming it on women in the workplace only makes other women mad. For good reason, though, as a fellow working mom pointed out to me, men can often behave badly and be considered “aggressive” in his career path and that is a good thing!

Gender bias on these topics are still very real. A scholar friend of mine often points out that women have to cut each other down to get ahead because our society is still very patriarchal. I think that despite the fact, my current issue is with other females, it is definitely worthwhile to note that men are guilty of this, too, and often praised for it. It is very similar to a guy who sleeps around and is applauded for his behavior while the woman is labeled a whore.

Welcome to the working world, where women still don’t have it easy.

How to cope

This situation has made me resent my job, one that I used to love—and it sucks. It really sucks. So I have to figure out a way to cope with it. Here are some things I’ve learned along the way:

  1. Always put your best foot forward: How you respond to negativity will ultimately reflect on you, especially if the others are in this together.
  2. Don’t play the game: Resist the urge to gossip about it to other coworkers at the same company!
  3. It’s their own insecurity even though it makes you feel insecure: You can take this one to the bank. It speaks to their character, not yours.
  4. We all want to be accepted: It’s part of how we are wired, so when you feel like the only one left out, it’s natural to get upset. Acknowledge your feelings and move on.
  5. Feeling left out is never fun: I started to reach out to old coworkers to join me for lunch so I can reconnect with what it’s like to work with people who don’t act like this.
  6. They view you as competition: I briefly thought failing at some assignments would make them like me more. That is insane, don’t do it… do your best work while being respectful but don’t sacrifice your work for it!

I know I am not alone in dealing with this. How have you coped with a similar situation?

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13 thoughts on “Women Behaving Badly in the Workplace

  1. You describe the subtleties of female bullying in the workplace well. I’ve seen and experienced this several times and read a good bit about it. It’s a strange but very real phenomenon. Thanks for sharing, and good luck!

  2. I’ve heard of this but can gladly say that I haven’t experienced it at work. My friends though have told me horror stories. It’s tough, and I think a big part of their success was putting their foot down, not letting themselves get bullied or doing work they shouldn’t. And all the other tips you mentioned. Hope it improves for you! It doesn’t sound like much fun.

  3. I’ve been there. I think this is also good advice for girls in high school and junior high school too. When I have been in a similar situation, I have just reminded myself that the only person I have to be okay with in the morning is myself. Knowing I behaved appropriately toward these types of people helps me keep my head high (not in a self-righteous sort of way). It has also helped for me to think about the ways I would like my son to treat others and I try to reflect that. Good luck to you!

  4. This describes my workplace to a tee! It’s a professional environment, but some of the women act like teenage brats.

    I deal with it by: ignoring the cliques, even when they’re talking about me, focusing on my work and doing my best every day, keeping in mind the right thing to do, and realizing that they are the ones with the problem, not me. It’s not easy. I truly believe that people who can rise above this have greater potential.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for this. I feel I could’ve written this. I have the same searches, same bullying tactics. And a judge bi love was at risk because I didn’t want to stay in the environment. Thank you for letting me know one can survive.

  6. Wow! I am so glad to hear I am not the only one who has experienced this. Not saying I am glad that others are going through the bullying and uncomfortable experiences but I thought that it was me being a weak woman. I almost lost my job last week because I am so fed up with the mess in the office. Thank you for your post!!

  7. Living and breathing it right now and it’s horrible. The worst bullies I have ever seen.

  8. I was unable to deal with one particular person anymore and let her have it . Unfortunately I did in front of others it cost me my job.
    I have a sense of freedom from the drama but sadly the situation (person)remains . Too bad for them. Really great for me .

  9. I am going through this right now, right after returning from FMLA. I had surgery, oopherectomy, which actually could cause some hormonal issues. I contacted Human Resources, I still feel as if noone is listening to how I am being treated. I feel very vulnerable, I have been degraded, I have been at my current workplace for 16 yrs. It has become toxic to me, It has become humiliating to walk in the door. I have a meeting with the manager, HR & the person who has been ‘bullying’ me this week. I already feel as if nothing will come of it, but me leaving the office feeling alone again. The worst part of it, is I do not know WHY!!! Why, I am a caring person, I always looked out for this person. So, with my vulnerability after gyne surgery, being ‘attacked ‘ immediately after coming back from FMLA, I became weak, I became lost. Yes, I let her get the best of me. Now what???

  10. I too have dealt with what is now referred to as “mobbing”. I once walked in to a staff meeting a bit late and caught the director ridiculing me to the entire staff. I am treated like I am an idiot. I am isolated by the group and they ignore my birthday every year while celebrating everyone’s else’s in a big way. I love the advice in this article!

  11. Christine says:

    Amelia! I have To exact same experience! Everyone else gets their name on the conference room board and gets an announcement on their birthday – not me. My boss told a
    Co-worker that I am “not as intelligent as” I tnknf
    I am. The owner asks me do a small task and keeps repeating “do you understand what I am telling you?” Yet I sit and listen/watch him struggle with spelling and grammar and simple common sense tasks – but I am the idiot. Unfortunately we are a small company and there is no HR dept and the closest we have to an HR o is one of the workplace bullies.

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