Talk

Advanced search

mean girls at work

(67 Posts)
bullseye2018 Sun 03-Mar-19 04:55:16

I’ve read a lot about mean girls at work because I’m struggling not to let the mean girls I work with get to me. Some theories suggest they target those they feel threatened by (more capable, more well-liked, more attractive), whereas others suggest they target weak/vulnerable women (submissive, less attractive, isolated).

Guess I’m curious to know what others think is the reality. And, given that, what characteristics might help buffer women from becoming the target.

ColeHawlins Sun 03-Mar-19 05:21:06

Are you writing an article?

NChangeForNoReason Sun 03-Mar-19 05:29:33

Good luck with the book hmm

Myfoolishboatisleaning Sun 03-Mar-19 05:30:57

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

Dimsumlosesum Sun 03-Mar-19 05:33:04

Such a misogynist post angry

Reccy2018 Sun 03-Mar-19 05:33:30

^^ this

coffeeeandtv Sun 03-Mar-19 05:38:14

I have also been very interested in the notion of 'mean girls' for the last couple of years after being 'gaslighted' by other mums on the school playground. I ruminated for a while, observed every aspect of my life from my friends, work colleagues to family relationships and realised that actually there isn't one actual reason for the 'mean girls' to act like they do, it's just part of their personality rather than an actual thought about and planned action. They probably do have vindictive/jealous personalities but refuse to recognise this, for me I have focused on my own actions and reactions, my well worn phrase is 'it says more about them than you'. I show kindness in my words and actions and refuse to join in their nastiness, you would be amazed how quickly they move away when you don't fuel their games. You genuinely can't do anything to stop yourself from becoming the target, working on your own self esteem really helps and what I found enlightening was actually hearing what was being said behind my back as it was so untrue it was laughable. I totally sympathise as you are in work for a large part of your day and I appreciate how much this affects your confidence, I realised with certain friends, colleagues and family that I couldn't beat them so I just avoid them.

bullseye2018 Sun 03-Mar-19 05:52:46

Not writing a book, no. Just a woman trying to understand why the women I work with target me and others like me.

Sad to deal with mean girls here when I’m trying to understand the ones I work with.

bullseye2018 Sun 03-Mar-19 05:54:59

Thanks for your comment @coffee. I’ve tried most of what you’ve tried, but I feel like taking the higher ground seems to fire them up more. It is very hard when you have to be in such close proximity to them all day.

bullseye2018 Sun 03-Mar-19 06:02:50

Also @coffee, I’ve also found that I just feel like a total idiot when I find those I show a genuine interest in and feel I have had a nice conversation with have then just turned around and mocked me, stabbing me in the back with another mean girl. I try to dissect what I could have said that could be the subject of such cruelty but I’m at a loss. I asked a girl early last week how her holiday had gone and told her she looked very rested. She then spent the afternoon taking the piss out of me with another woman. Made me wish I had saved my breath. Why? Though reading over what I just wrote I feel like more of an idiot to be so upset about something that is not at all a surprise.

ColeHawlins Sun 03-Mar-19 06:10:19

* Sad to deal with mean girls here when I’m trying to understand the ones I work with.*

Maybe you're over sensitive?

Your OP was oddly phrased for someone seeking advice for themselves.

bullseye2018 Sun 03-Mar-19 06:15:33

“Over sensitive”. That old chestnut. After a shit work experience I just got called a misogynist and told to “fuck right off” when trying to ask my fellow women what they thought of the documented theories (not mine) behind the mean girl mentality and for suggestions for how to avoid being a target. Right, well. After the week I’ve had I wish I hadn’t bothered. Signing off.

Kneehigim Sun 03-Mar-19 06:19:31

I'm a good judge of character and don't engage with women I sense to be bitchy whatsoever. I will say hello and that's it.

Myfoolishboatisleaning Sun 03-Mar-19 06:24:15

Sad to deal with mean girls here when I’m trying to understand the ones I work with.
Do you really not see how misogynistic this sounds. You are runnning with misogynistic stereotypes. You are perhaps dealing with mean individuals. Stop fucking making this about outdated and inaccurate sex stereotypes.

Myfoolishboatisleaning Sun 03-Mar-19 06:26:10

kneehigim what about the unpleasant men?

Myfoolishboatisleaning Sun 03-Mar-19 06:27:43

Can we have links to this research about “documented theories behind the mean girl mentality”. Thanks.

Kneehigim Sun 03-Mar-19 06:28:15

Same principle. Though we're talking about women here.

Decormad38 Sun 03-Mar-19 06:33:15

I don’t really work in that kind of environment anymore thankfully amongst my peers but I notice it in the admin staff. Its all a bit sad and petty.

Myfoolishboatisleaning Sun 03-Mar-19 06:37:46

But how are mean women different to mean men? Because surely we can’t make that judgement based on their actual sex, unless we employ misogynistic sex stereotypes. Go on, convince me.

ColeHawlins Sun 03-Mar-19 06:58:44

* “Over sensitive”. That old chestnut.*

Well here you are being demonstrably over sensitive.__ Maybe that's characteristic for you. Maybe it isn't. We have no way of telling.

ColeHawlins Sun 03-Mar-19 07:03:40

* kneehigim what about the unpleasant men?*

I do think there is an extent to which unpleasant men tend to be unpleasant in a certain way, and unpleasant women tend to be unpleasant in a slightly different way.

Which I attribute to girls being brought up in a sexist society which continually emphasise that they must be "nice". The same expectation isn't placed on boys. So they don't need to conceal their nastiness.

For that reason, I recognise what is meant by "mean girls" and don't really consider it a sexist trope so much as a product of sexist socialisation.

(But the OP read oddly for different reasons.)

Kneehigim Sun 03-Mar-19 07:11:00

So many old chestnuts on here today!

Have you seen little girls play/be mean? They use exclusion mainly.
Have you seen little boys play/be mean? They whack the head off each other.

I am so sick of this 'sexism' 'sexist stereotype' nonsense it is actually seriously putting me off MN.

If women (and men lest I forget them) can not realise that the sexes are different, I really give up. It's feminism gone to the extreme.
Have you ever known a little boy playing to huddle up with his little pal and whisper to each other while excluding a third little boy?
No you fucking haven't.

I'm sick of hearing this 'trope' trotted out on every fucking thread now. It's infiltrating every thread!! angry

ColeHawlins Sun 03-Mar-19 07:12:52

Have you seen little girls play/be mean? They use exclusion mainly.
Have you seen little boys play/be mean? They whack the head off each other.

Yep. Completely agree.

ColeHawlins Sun 03-Mar-19 07:14:27

* If women (and men lest I forget them) can not realise that the sexes* are* different, I really give up. It's feminism gone to the extreme.*

Not with that bit, though grin

Myfoolishboatisleaning Sun 03-Mar-19 07:15:13

*Have you ever known a little boy playing to huddle up with his little pal and whisper to each other while excluding a third little boy?
No you fucking haven't.*
Yes. I have. Many times.

Kneehigim Sun 03-Mar-19 07:16:15

Has anyone ever taught you human biology Cole?

Kneehigim Sun 03-Mar-19 07:17:16

Well of course you would say that wouldn't you. Just because you say it, doesn't mean it's true.

ColeHawlins Sun 03-Mar-19 07:17:56

Yes thank you. And a decent wodge of social science too, thank goodness. smile

Myfoolishboatisleaning Sun 03-Mar-19 07:19:17

Are you talking to me kneehigim?

Kneehigim Sun 03-Mar-19 07:21:07

As for the actual OP and the question asked, I firmly believe they target women they feel threatened by - in the workplace particularly. In the playground, I think it's more of a bonding exercise i.e. by excluding the weakest in the flock.

Kneehigim Sun 03-Mar-19 07:24:45

You see it with teenagers too. I've seen a lot of coverage lately of bullying and resultant suicide and in almost every case, the girl involved is very good looking, sporty, accomplished and popular with boys. The mean girls will certainly 'take her out'.

Kneehigim Sun 03-Mar-19 07:27:59

Also, I think if you don't like going to lunches, discussing Love Island or whatever the latest trend is, and aren't simultaneously doing the latest fad diet, you will be excluded from friendship groups. The younger they are, the worse they are for it.

dimsum321 Sun 03-Mar-19 07:31:38

Mean girls and most definitely mean in a very different way to mean boys.

And I would far rather work with male colleagues/boss/managers as without exception in my 30+ years of working, if I have a nightmare/bitchy/micro managing boss it is 100% guaranteed to be a woman.

youarenotkiddingme Sun 03-Mar-19 07:31:54

Maybe OP is using 'mean girls' as a phrase because those being mean to her are woman?!

I'm sure if it was a man she'd had phrased it differently!

No idea how to help though. I have a colleague who spends her entire work life watching me and reporting me for any small mistake. Or always doing something else important when she's asked to do a job. (I'm senior to her). I've reported to my line manager and suggested they get OH involved hinting that it may be her MH as it's not healthy spending your whole working day assuming others are incompetent.

FWIW I'm fine as I asked my superiors to evaluate my work and give constructive criticism to improve what I do. They said it's not me and it's her!

For me the indirect approach of 'concern' rather than accusations has worked.

dimsum321 Sun 03-Mar-19 07:32:25

"are"

dimsum321 Sun 03-Mar-19 07:34:57

Furthermore, I have yet to encounter a mean male boss/colleague/manager. But that could just be random chance or luck.

Kneehigim Sun 03-Mar-19 07:39:11

I'm more naturally drawn to male people. I find women to be incredibly insanely jealous and bitchy. Maybe men find other men to be the same? I don't think it operates the same way across the sexes. I find men to be domineering, arrogant, over-confident and a little stupid, if I was to stereotype. That said, they're simpler creatures to hang out with. grin
I have always noticed the alpha males though in an office. And they are generally very well liked.

Kneehigim Sun 03-Mar-19 07:41:27

How do I rise above it? As I said, I just say hello and that's it. I am polite and nothing more. I don't get involved in office gossip, rivalry or Love Island.

Kneehigim Sun 03-Mar-19 07:43:20

@Dimsum I can only think of one male colleague who I didn't get on with. On a personal level we got on fine, but my had he perfected the art of looking busy whilst doing nothing! He wound me up no end.

Myfoolishboatisleaning Sun 03-Mar-19 07:50:07

I find women to be incredibly insanely jealous and bitchy 😂😂 yeah right.

starzig Sun 03-Mar-19 07:50:35

Don't think its the OP that is over sensitive.
Misogynistic??? Geeez.

FriedaTheBreeder Sun 03-Mar-19 08:01:41

Ice certainly seen little boys exclude other little boys and whisper behind me back. I’ve even had to apologise on behalf of my own son for such behaviour.

In fact my son’s friendships bear many more of the stereotypical female friendship attributes than any of my daughters’ friendships ever have.

At my work place I have many colleagues I find unfriendly, judgemental and hard to deal with. There a slightly more men in that group than women And the very worst person in my organisation for bitchy behaviour is trans male to female. Who knows what that suggests!

Kneehigim Sun 03-Mar-19 08:06:50

I find women to be incredibly insanely jealous and bitchy 😂😂 yeah right.
Haha. Yup. Case in point.

Myfoolishboatisleaning Sun 03-Mar-19 08:08:04

What am I jealous of? What are they jealous of?

Kneehigim Sun 03-Mar-19 08:09:24

@starzig I know! You can't open your mouth here now or you're being sexist. FFS. It's tiring and getting boring now.

Kneehigim Sun 03-Mar-19 08:10:09

Your sniggering emoticons suggest something is niggling you! Care to share?

Myfoolishboatisleaning Sun 03-Mar-19 08:11:47

Not sniggering. Outright laughing at your ridiculous claim. Again, what am I jealous of?

Squeegle Sun 03-Mar-19 08:12:08

Mean girls is definitely a thing. In my workplace we had a group of senior managers who had worked together for years. Their behaviour was just like that in the playground; whispering, excluding, meeting up outside work as a group. That behaviour is very specific to women. Let’s not kid ourselves that men act like that. They do other stuff. I think the OP has been treated appallingly; the professionally offended are out in force on mumsnet it seems.

floribunda18 Sun 03-Mar-19 08:14:45

I've had a lot more trouble from mean men and boys.

Kneehigim Sun 03-Mar-19 08:16:25

I've no idea! You tell me honey.

floribunda18 Sun 03-Mar-19 08:17:21

Men do act like that, it just isn't noticed in the same way. The constant name calling at my school was from boys, not girls. Men bitch about and put down other colleagues just as much as women do, and they form collectives and make sure those colleagues are managed out and not promoted.

floribunda18 Sun 03-Mar-19 08:19:31

Also men commit all but a small percentage of murders, rapes and violent, sexual and other crimes. But hey! The problem is mean women. Why can't a woman be more like a man?

YourSarcasmIsDripping Sun 03-Mar-19 08:21:10

I think OP would've got more help and support if she asked for help in dealing with her specific issues at work, rather than using a stereotype and looking for confirmation for that stereotype. Tbh I don't even understand how that would be helpful.

Even if we did say yes they are mean girls and speculated on their behaviour,the reasons why etc it wouldn't help OP to improve her working environment. They'd still be "mean girls" .

Some people suck regardless of their sex.

Kneehigim Sun 03-Mar-19 08:22:07

Squeegle I totally agree.
What I've seen men do at work, is to give the high profile projects to their fellow alpha males.
I've never seen a female boss give a high profile project to a female colleague/underling. She'll probably keep it for herself! grin

Men and women do operate differently. No matter how fucking gender fluid we all decide to be.

I find MN such a contradiction. It is the most transphobic forum I've come across and yet they're all for gender fluidity! I literally don't get it. Maybe I'm a bit thick or something.

Kneehigim Sun 03-Mar-19 08:24:03

Well I'm glad you recognise that there is a difference in the sexes with this statement:

Also men commit all but a small percentage of murders, rapes and violent, sexual and other crimes. But hey! The problem is mean women. Why can't a woman be more like a man?

ColeHawlins Sun 03-Mar-19 08:25:45

* I find MN such a contradiction. It is the most transphobic forum I've come across and yet they're all for gender fluidity! I literally don't get it. Maybe I'm a bit thick or something.*

Not thick. I think it's that you've missed a bit of the underlying argument.

It's very GC here but no, not transphobic.

Myfoolishboatisleaning Sun 03-Mar-19 08:28:39

I wouldn’t say it is about gender fluidity Kneehigim. The problem lies with sex stereotyping. If we can acknowledge that behaviours are not inherently due to sex stereotypes, we can create a better world, particularly for women and gender non conforming people.

mimibunz Sun 03-Mar-19 08:31:23

kneehigim I agree 100%.

Tara336 Sun 03-Mar-19 08:42:24

I wouldn’t say I’ve been a victim of mean girls but I’ve observed them at work. I witnessed horrendous bullying to the point that the department (not mine) had to have meetings and mediation! The victim I guess did stand out from the crowd a bit and she had a bit of a mean streak herself. But I think individuals this group of mean girls were nice enough women but had their own issues, they formed a pack with a ringleader who instigated it all (she’s always been a nasty bitch) and all hell broke loose. It was awful to see.

YourSarcasmIsDripping Sun 03-Mar-19 08:49:13

* I find MN such a contradiction. It is the most transphobic forum I've come across and yet they're all for gender fluidity! I literally don't get it. Maybe I'm a bit thick or something*

MN is not transphobic, that's why you don't get it. It sounds like you have some preconceived views yourself and just looking for what you want to see.

EBearhug Mon 04-Mar-19 10:43:16

Furthermore, I have yet to encounter a mean male boss/colleague/manager. But that could just be random chance or luck.

Definitely luck. I've known some appalling male managers. I work in IT, so most of the managers I've known have been men, good or bad.

There's a book due to come out by Tomás Chamorro-Premuzic on Why do so many incompetent men become leaders?

Sex is not the issue here; the behaviour is, and that is something which should be tackled. Where sex comes into it is that men and women are often treated differently for exhibiting the same behaviours. The behaviour is just as damaging whether enacted by men or women. Talking about "mean girls" clouds the problem. It's the behaviour which needs fixing, not being women.

Kristophersmum Mon 18-Mar-19 23:54:21

Young boys do gang up and can isolate other boys and girls. They can exclude them , bully them and try to tell each other ...” don’t talk to him / her , don’t play with him / her “ If a child has been bought up well and has sound judgement then they will act well - if they are immature, have bad role models or have disabilities then they may not know right from wrong and become bullies

Kristophersmum Tue 19-Mar-19 00:01:19

Boys do it - girls do it
Men do it - women do it
It does not depend on gender or age actually.
It’s only a sympathetic mature wise child or an emphatic wise and aware adult that does not bully or become mean as they treat people the way they want to be treated - simple - but I wish there were more out there instead of the mean bullies / narcissists etc ....

Kristophersmum Tue 19-Mar-19 00:06:52

The theory that they target the weak is correct as well as targeting those they are jealous of.
I hope you are able to protect yourself - you need to shield yourself and build up your shield / aura as the negative meanness will cause you stress and depression -
Read up on how to tackle negative energy and negative people before they drain the life out of you !

joyfullittlehippo Tue 19-Mar-19 00:10:00

I’ve never personally experienced “mean girls.” I’ve worked with one woman who was a bully, but she was a flat out tantrum-throwing psychopath who everyone hated.

I have worked with numerous men who were bullies or who engaged in weird manipulative power plays.

Tumbleweed101 Tue 19-Mar-19 06:48:11

I’ve always felt the ‘odd one out’ for most of my school and work life but now I’m in a workplace where I’m with lovely supportive colleagues where we all get on. I think it’s jusr finding those personality types you click with. Working where I do now has really boosted my self confidence and all it took was the right people to work with.

bugaboo218 Tue 19-Mar-19 08:42:20

I think mean girls do exist at work and they do it when they feel threatened in some way. In my case because I was more qualified than they were.

Any issues I have had in 20 odd years of work have always been with micro managing female bosses /female senior managers. I can say in 20 years Plus I have had two good female bosses.

Never ever had any issues with male bosses or senior managers, who have been men.

Join the discussion

Registering is free, quick, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Get started »