Some of you know the uncomfortable feeling when you’re suddenly left out of meetings, projects or email chains.
Or someone new is hired and some of your responsibilities are shifted over to them without your knowledge.
Or you go on vacation and when you return some of your projects have been permanently transitioned to a colleague.
Maybe you have a gut feeling that your colleagues are gossiping about you.
Or maybe you’re heading off to grab lunch and you see your female boss taking a group of your colleagues out to lunch. They’re clearly in the inner circle and you are not. You can’t help but feel left out.
Or maybe for years you’ve received glowing performance evaluations and then all of a sudden as a new female boss assumes the reins and your performance is downgraded, you are nitpicked in virtually every area and you suddenly “need improvement” in a number of categories. You can’t seem to do anything right.
You feel marginalized, scrutinized, uncomfortable and you just want it to end but you desperately need your job and there aspects of it that you love.
Sometimes the snubbing it’s subtle. Other times it’s right smack in your face.
It takes you right back to your middle school and high school years when one day you had a close circle of friends and the next day, you were standing by yourself while those same so-called friends whispered about you behind your back.
Just when you thought those painful days were long behind you, you get a rude awakening that not every woman wants you to succeed and that grown women can be competitive, cuttthroat and downright cruel to each other.
A lot of women are slow to realize that they have office (and personal life) rivals and saboteurs in part because we have been conditioned by the media and society today to believe that we as a gender are on the same side and are supportive of each other. Some of us are the kinds of people who see the good in others while others lives to create drama and put others down.
And while there are many women who truly want other women to succeed, the sooner that you realize there are some women who you will encounter professionally (and personally, but that’s for another article) who do not, the sooner you’ll be in a position to protect yourself.
On the flip side (because this all sounds super doomsday) it is equally and more important to focus your attention on finding female champions who are not threatened by you and from whom you can lean on for guidance and support. Don’t spend time worrying about these female bullies. These mentor figures will be instrumental to your success now and down the road. It’s never too early or late to find them.
So what do you do?
It took me a long time to realize that not everyone is going to like me no matter how hard I try to win them over and that’s okay. I am kind to everyone, cut people out of my life who have hurt and betrayed me, and instead focus my attention on the people in my professional and personal circles who do like me.
And it is so liberating. Try it. I promise you that you will feel relief. You will not be everyone’s cup of tea and they will not be yours, but the key is in how you deal with it. You can be a mean girl or you can take the high road.
Surprisingly Taylor Swift puts it into perspective with her lyrics, “Haters gonna hate, hate, hate and I’m just gonna shake shake it off, shake it off.”
Forget about the mean girls who gossip and act catty. Surround yourself with people who appreciate you and love you for you exactly who you are. Be grateful for your support network. Silence negativity. Trust your gut.
When you don’t react, bullies often go away and bother someone else. Most often their abhorrent behavior stems from their jealousy and insecurity. Remember – shake it off. You’ve got way better things to do, like finding a younger woman in the profession to mentor, working hard, cultivating relationships with your mentors and building your own brand.
Always let kindness guide your way, don’t be a doormat and know when to walk away from people who don’t have your back.