If you spent Sunday anticipating having to deal with a certain person this week, you have a mean girl/bully situation. Mean Girls/Bullies at Work really can ruin your day. Heck, they can raise your stress just anticipating the conflict. In my previous blog, I wrote a story about girls in high school who stressed everyday it seems because they were in the same classroom with mean girls. I am sure when those same girls meet a mean girl/bully in the shape of a woman/man, their reactions will be visceral.
I know from experience that there are certain things that can be done. The ones I am going to give you come from the book Mean Girls at Work: How to stay professional when things get personal. I’ll let you know you know from my experience and observation what may work.
1. Don’t take his/her bait.
Most likely this person will do or say things when no one else is around. But if someone is, don’t engage in the contest. Either way, you will do better to not sink to the level the person is playing.
2. Don’t believe what he/she says is true.
I once had a principal who was demeaning to what I was trying to accomplish. He said literally three inches from my face, “no one cares but you.” Several times I have thought of him when I was meeting another challenge. You have to believe if you care, it is important. If the person is trying to make you feel less than you are, that person is feeling insecure or is trying to dominate you. Don’t let the person win.
3. Don’t engage in negative speak about her/him.
Venting is a stress release. But it can also be quoted. Go home, tell your cat or dog or mirror what you want to say. Vent where it is safe.
4. Be friendly, without being friends.
This is hard. But you need to do this for you. Negative feelings should not be expressed in the work place or in a social atmosphere. Why remove yourself from a discussion, or friendly get together because of another person? It may be an important situation you can learn from or contribute to.
5. Aim for professional behavior at all times.
This is hard. But reach for your inner actor.
6. Keep communication short and to the point.
Keep it professional. Everything you say can be quoted. Pretend there is a reporter close by.
7. Find a person you can confide it.
Hey, if you have to vent, vent to a friend outside the workplace. Someone you know you can trust. I still think you should stay with the dog or cat, but if you need advice, stay with someone who is completely trust worthy and will not take sides. Careful with spouses. Mine (God love him) wants to fix things.
8. Don’t roll your eyes when she/he speaks.
9. Don’t avoid her/him.
This goes back to #4.
10. Don’t take anything she/he says or does personally.
He or she has something to gain if you internalize what is being said. There is nothing wrong with you, because the issue lies in that person’s court. Insecurity may bubble up in you. Let it pass through you or do something that will reassure you or find a way to fix/learn about what is making you feel insecure.
I’ve had to learn this stuff the hard way and my nervous system paid the price. I hope to help you avoid these lessons.