For me, writing is a way to both share helpful content and also to express what I’m feeling. It’s always been a helpful outlet for me to process something, devise solutions to deal with it and then move on from it. I’m trying to use this blog as a way to help others and to share content as well as experiences that I’ve had that you also may have had, which might resonate with you too.
The timing of publishing my mean girls article in the workplace last week was timely as I had yet another experience with one – this time in a social setting (I know many of you know this, but mean girls lurk not only in the workplace but in your personal life too).
Here’s the short story of what happened – I went to a dinner party with several couples this weekend where I met a woman about 10 years older than me (again, mean girls come in all shapes and sizes and all ages) who was quite rude to me for no apparent reason at all.
When we were introduced, I noticed something was off as she sized me up (remember we all make snap judgments about someone within moments of meeting). While it was subtle, I could tell by not even shaking my hand in those first introductory moments that she didn’t like me right off the bat for whatever reason, again like I say in the article, it’s usually nothing you did per se, but rather something about you that triggers something in the mean girl to lash out and behave badly.
Back to what happened, as I finished recounting what I thought was a funny story to a few friends, the mean girl, within very clear earshot of me, turns to a friend and says (about me) “She’s a lot” – meaning I’ve got a big personality or I’m loud – whichever one it was, it wasn’t nice or appropriate to say. And yes, while that’s true, and I’m not everyone’s cup of tea, I make no apologies for being ME. And neither should you.
I was floored by this comment, the fact that she would say it on the other side of the kitchen island within earshot of me and quite frankly very hurt. I wanted to crawl into a hole. I wanted to be silent and not be me. It felt like middle school all over again.
But here’s what I did. I immediately addressed it, looked at her and said “I don’t think I’m too much. And that wasn’t a nice thing to say.” Then I proceeded to ignore her the rest of the night. But my night was completely affected. My upbeat, carefree mood darkened. I didn’t feel like I could be myself. I carefully watched my words and actions around this group. I felt uncomfortable for having a “big personality.” I just wanted to get through the night without causing a scene. I hate that I gave this woman that kind of power over me and that I let her mean words ruin my Saturday night.
On the plus side, I consider it a blessing that I heard what she said (and that it was so early on in the evening) so that I didn’t waste my time trying to get to know her. By saying what she did about me in a loud voice and so close in proximity to where I was sitting, I think in some way she probably wanted me to hear it. She knew I was right there. Women often do that to be extra hurtful. Whatever it was, her behavior was mean spirited and unnecessary.
By the way, for as loud as I allegedly was during that social gathering, this mean girl was equally as loud and brash, but did I say anything mean to someone else about her behavior? Nope. It didn’t even cross my mind – because she was being herself, and we are all unique people. Also, I consciously make a choice to not be like her. Grown women should not be acting like this. Ever. Remember, when someone is mean to you like this it is usually because something about you triggers something that makes them feel insecure about themselves.
You are inevitably going to encounter mean girls at work and in your personal life. So let’s learn how to better manage them so they don’t negatively affect us.
How to manage a mean girl in your personal life:
- Confront her in a mature way and let her know their behavior hurt your feelings and that it’s not okay.
- Don’t be mean back to her no matter how much you want to – “icing” them out or politely ignoring her will make a stronger point and will bother her more. Giving a bully ammunition is exactly what they want.
- Surround yourself with your tribe and support system. You need the people who believe in you when you’re being attacked. It’s okay to reach out to them to vent and to seek support.
- Find a constructive outlet to express your feelings – maybe this is your support system or a therapist or your partner. Or maybe it’s writing like I’m doing here. Whatever it is, don’t bottle up your emotions inside. Let them out, and you’ll feel better. You might even help someone else who has experienced a similar situation.
I wish I knew how I could stop women from being this mean to each other. Until I do I will keep writing about it in the hopes that this helps to raise awareness and keeps us talking about it. I hope she’s ashamed of her behavior, but more likely she’s not. I know she has a daughter and what she did is setting a bad example for her. I have a feeling she would say I took what she said out of context, and that she didn’t mean it. But we both know what happened. And I really hope that she reads my mean girls article and thinks twice before she says something unnecessarily mean to another woman.