If you’ve fallen prey to a mean girl during your grade school days, the pain that comes along with gossip and pranking is all too familiar. While you may have evaded your high school nemesis, beware, a new mean girl may be waiting for you in a most unlikely place: your office. Unfortunately, being a mean girl isn’t a phase; when mean girls grow up, they become mean women, and some of those women may just be your co-workers.
If you have the misfortune of working with an office mean girl, here’s everything you need to know about her motives, tactics, and how you can stay above it all.
How Office Mean Girls Operate
If you’ve ever watched the cult classic film Mean Girls (and if you’re like me, you know every line), you’re fully aware of how Regina George and her posse operate. Even though you’re not in high school anymore, if you have a resident mean girl in your office, you may notice some of George’s same behaviors. Oftentimes, office bullies will do anything to undermine your input and your work. They may do this by openly insulting your opinions in meetings and trashing your ideas in front of other co-workers and your superiors. The sneakiest of office mean girls will often attempt to befriend you, learn about your personal life and your weaknesses, and use them against you.
Why Your Nemesis Is The Way That She Is
While you may be fully aware of how your corporate bitch (pardon my French) operates, and likely from experience, why she’s so nasty may be a mystery. Aside from getting joy out of watching her co-workers’ hopes, dreams and spirits shatter, a mean girl acts the way she does for a variety of self-seeking reasons.
If your office’s mean girl is on the prowl for a promotion, she will attempt to undermine anyone in her path to reach her career aspirations. If she’s made it to the top but wants to stay there, an office mean girl will do anything to get an “in” with every higher-up and make sure anyone gunning for her job look as far from eligible as possible, even if that means ruining their career.
How to Stay Above It All
An office mean girl can make your 9-5 feel like a living nightmare — even if you love your job. Unless you work at a company with zero tolerance for office bullying, or, by some miracle of fate, your office nemesis gets fired, you will need to put some coping strategies in place. The best way to protect yourself and your feelings from any corporate bully is to put your guard up. Don’t talk to her more than absolutely necessary about your personal life, as this may make you vulnerable.
However, per the keep-your-friends-close-enemies-closer school of thought, be sure to maintain an open work relationship with her. This will help you to stay in the loop regarding her work and life within the office, so if she has plans to make you look bad or boost her career at your expense, you can put up a good fight. Above all, the best way to deal with an office nemesis is to not deal with her at all. Instead of spending your time worrying about your office mean girl, focus on your job and let your quality of work and professionalism help you reach your career goals.
Having to deal with an office mean girl is less than ideal, to say the least. Between withstanding verbal attacks and fearing for your career and integrity everyday, doing your actual job can at times feel nearly impossible. However, knowing more about how an office mean girl operates and why she’s such a repugnant human being can help you handle her better and focus more on what you’re actually at work to do.
Briana North is a blogger that enjoys sharing her opinions and advice on careers, feminism, young adult literature, and life itself. Recently, Briana earned her Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and is currently working in the field of Public Relations. In her free time, she focuses on building her portfolio so she can continue sharing her opinions and advice with others. While she doesn’t know what tomorrow will bring, she hopes it includes writing.