Author Advises Women on How to Deal With “Mean Girl” Co-workers
Since Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, hit the shelves last month, it seems all anyone can talk about is “leaning in” and one more author is chiming in with her theories on women in the workplace. Basically, author Meredith Fuller thinks mean girls have taken over the workplace, as her book’s title sums it up: Working with Bitches: Identify the Eight Types of Office Mean Girls and Rise Above the Workplace Nastiness.
As Maureen Callahan of the New York Post writes, Fuller’s book “explores the soft violence that occurs among women in the office — subtle, surreptitious behaviors that are meant to undermine, exclude and eliminate.” Fuller believes that women are so super competitive with one another that we fight each other the only way we know how — in a very sneaky, underhanded way. Essentially, in a way that many men would say is very “girly” and it sounds like Fuller agrees.
Fuller, a psychologist and corporate consultant in private practice for over 30 years, says she studied women in the workplace using an active sample of 200 women and a case study of 2,000, but that she was shocked at how many women wanted to share their negative experiences. “Despite the public silence on the topic, I experienced an outpouring of horrific tales that secretly haunt some of these women to this day… Yet, in professional settings, it is rarely, if ever, discussed,” she tells the Post.
For the most part, companies don’t bring employees together to discuss personal feelings, bad mouthing, etc., but with so many women taking over lead positions, and knowing that women like to discuss their feelings, maybe these things should be discussed. That seems to be the direction Fuller is going, as she says, “We’ve got to change because what we’re looking at are organizational structures that are dying. They just don’t know it yet.”
According to Fuller, there are specific types of women in the workplace that make life a lot harder and work a lot crappier — “The Excluder,” “The Insecure,” “The Toxic,” “The Narcissist,” “The Screamer,” “The Liar,” and “The Incompetent.” It’s ladies like these who use a form of non-verbal undermining to tear down their fellow female coworkers.
Fuller says that men can also be nasty, but in a much clearer, more direct way. “Men are more overt and simple: If a male is going to block you out, it’s very clear what he’s doing. Men don’t spend as much time on the non-verbal behaviors,” she says.
So who has it right, the men or the women? Obviously, if women are that stressed out in the workplace, we have to take responsibility for doing something wrong. However, we can’t help but think that if the workplace was 100% equal — that men and women were given the same opportunities regardless of gender — women might not feel such a need to compete and break each other down.
In the meantime, we could just all try being a little nicer to each other, don’t you think?