One of the New York Post's Top 10 Career Books of 2012 and a Booklist Top 10 Business Book
DO YOU WORK WITH A MEAN GIRL?
A woman’s field guide to the new frontier of professional developmentworking with other women
Women-to-women relationships in the workplace are . . . complicated. When they’re good, they’re great. But when they’re bad, they can ruin your day, your weekeven your year.
Packed with proven advice from two of today’s leading experts in workplace relationships, this one-of-a-kind guide gives women the tools they need to navigate difficult situations unique to women-to-women relationshipswhether with a boss, a colleague, a client, or an employee.
Have you dealt with a woman in the workplace who:
- “Accidentally” excludes you from important meetings?
- Seems intent on taking you down professionally?
- Gossips about you with other coworkers?
- Makes you look bad by missing deadlines?
- Forms a “pack” of mean girls to make your life miserable?
Mean Girls at Work isn’t just about surviving difficult situations. It’s about transforming a toxic relationship into one that benefits and supports both of you.
This book is also for women who engage in mean behavior . . . but don’t know it. After all, who hasn’t gossiped about a female coworker? Who hasn’t rolled her eyes in the presence of a woman she doesn’t like? Who hasn’t scanned another woman head to toewhich is just a nonverbal way of saying, “You’ve just been judged”? The authors provide invaluable advice to the more subtle ways of being meaneven if they’re not intended.
With a workforce composed of a higher percentage of women than ever, workplace dynamics have changed. Crowley and Elster cover every conceivable scenario, providing critical advice on how to rise above the fray and move forward professionally.
Mean Girls at Work is your map to dodging the mines and moving forward in today’s transformed workplace.
Praise for Mean Girls at Work
“An invaluable suit of armor for surviving nine to five!”
Leil Lowndes, bestselling author of How to Talk to Anyone
“If you think the emotional cruelty of comedies like Mean Girls and Heathers doesn’t exist in the real world workplace, think again. In Mean Girls at Work, Katherine Crowley and Kathi Elster valuably chronicle female vs. female predators and offer solid defensive strategies.”
Ann Kreamer, author of It’s Always Personal: Navigating Emotion in the New Workplace
“Whether you are in your twenties and just starting your professional career, your midcareer forties, when you are supposed to have figured it out already, or a woman in her fifties or sixties who’s seen it allthis book is a must-read. . . . The authors have finally given women the tools and the sound advice necessary to deal with . . . conflicts that keep us all from succeeding. . . . Carry this book with you to work every day!”
Carolyn Cassin, President, Michigan Women’s Foundation
“A must-read for women of all ages in today’s workforce. This book offers what we all need to develop the capacities to endure this ever-changing workplace. We know it is all about relationships and you need the skills outlined in this book to survive and thrive when the Mean Girls attack.”
Kim Harrington, Coordinator, Professional Development and Training, Office of Human Resources, California State University, Sacramento
|Product dimensions:||5.25(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.50(d)|
About the Author
Katherine Crowley is a Harvard-trained psychotherapist, and Kathi Elster is a management consultant and executive coach. They run K Squared Enterprises, a training firm that helps clients manage difficult situa tions in the workplace.
Read an Excerpt
MEAN GIRLS AT WORK
How to Stay Professional When Things Get Personal
By Katherine Crowley, Kathi Elster
The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.Copyright © 2013Katherine Crowley and Kathi Elster
All rights reserved.
The Different Faces of Mean
What Is a Mean Girl?
When you think of a mean girl at work, what comes to mind? Do images of Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada pop into your head? Do you envision Cruella de Vil of 101 Dalmatians or the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz? Do you picture a woman who is unkind, spiteful, vicious, unfriendly, cold, aggressive, manipulative, nasty, vengeful, and power- hungry?
The mean girls (and women) we read about, see portrayed on the screen, and sometimes encounter at work usually share certain characteristics:
They are the workplace bullies.
They pick on women who are weaker than they are.
They say cruel things that make other women cry.
They freeze other women out.
They seem determined to take other women down.
They're jealous of anyone else's success.
These are some of the typical characteristics that emerge when women describe truly unkind women at work. They depict mean girls in the extreme. "Vicious," "cruel," and "vengeful"—such behaviors are easy to recognize and associate with the mean girl profile. A woman who treats her colleagues in such obviously uncaring ways is clearly mean.
But consider the more subtle kinds of mean behavior that one woman can show toward another, the less obvious ways in which one woman might hurt, insult, or otherwise injure her workplace colleagues:
Have you ever rolled your eyes when a woman you didn't like started speaking?
Have you ever given or received an intimidating up-and-down scan that said, "I'm judging you"?
Have you ever gossiped about someone who rubbed you the wrong way?
Who hasn't watched one woman open her mouth and utter the universally recognizable "agh" sigh of disgust aimed at another woman in a group?
These kinds of mean gestures are harder to detect, yet they are frequently made by women in the workplace. And while you may be a generally kind and loving person, we bet there are certain women you've encountered who bring out your meaner side.
Just as there's a little bad in every boy, there's a little mean in every girl. "Mean" is the inherently female way of showing displeasure, of staking out our territory and telling another woman to back off.
Make no mistake: we are huge fans of women. We are women ourselves, and we're invested in the notion that women can and should be full players at work and in the world. We're also aware that woman-to-woman relationships are naturally intense. The biological imperative that compels us to "tend and befriend" can generate amazing friendships and incredibly productive work teams in any setting.
But women are complicated. While most of us want to be kind and nurturing, we struggle with our darker side—feelings of jealousy, envy, and competition. While men tend to compete in an overt manner—jockeying for position and fighting to be crowned "winners"—women often compete more covertly and behind the scenes. This covert competition and indirect aggression is at the heart of mean behavior among women at work.
Over the course of this book, we are going to give you strategies for handling a wide array of situations with women at work. In each case, one or more of the women involved could be labeled "mean." We're going to teach you our method for staying professional no matter how personally another woman attacks you or hurts your feelings.
To begin our journey, let's look at the seven categories of mean that we'll be addressing in this book. Each category will have its own chapter, in which we'll describe specific situations that you may face involving another woman at work, along with field-tested tactics for keeping the relationship professional no matter what happens. Here we go.
Meanest of the mean. These are the women who feel that they must be mean in order to survive. They view other women as objects to be won over, manipulated, or eliminated. They lack compassion, and they are unable to see anybody else's point of view. An example is the Ice Princess who treats everyone around her with disdain.
Very mean. These women are tough on the outside and insecure on the inside. They do and say mean things whenever they encounter a woman who threatens them. They are quick to feel jealous, envious, and competitive with another woman. An example is the vicious gossip who spreads rumors to make another woman (whom she's jealous of) look bad.
Passively mean. This category of mean girls includes any woman who acts nice, but is covertly competitive. Because she fears confrontation, her mean comes out indirectly—through exclusion, omission, and avoidance. An example is the coworker who "accidentally" excludes you from a meeting where your attendance matters.
Doesn't mean to be mean. These are the women who are extremely self- absorbed. Their unconscious, inconsiderate behavior strikes other women as mean, but they don't see it. They are oblivious to the impact of their actions. An example is the coworker who is chronically late, leaving you in the lurch.
Doesn't know she's mean. These mean girls behave in ways that they think improve a situation, but that actually alienate the women around them. They are usually quite self-righteous and controlling. An example is a coworker who bosses you around because she thinks you need the benefit of her knowledge.
Brings out your mean. Certain women at work may get on your nerves. They have poor interpersonal boundaries and demand a lot of attention. Their neediness brings out your mean. You find yourself lashing out, gossiping about the person, avoiding her, or making faces when she's speaking. An example is the insecure coworker who asks too many questions, interrupting your workflow and depleting you of your energy.
Group mean. Sometimes mean girls form packs. There's usually a leader who enlists other women to taunt, tease, shut out, or otherwise attack an unsuspecting female employee. An example is a workplace clique that whispers when you walk by; you feel alienated and humiliated by them.
Our "Don't Go There" Process
For every mean girl situation we describe, we're going to show you how to manage the other woman's behavior by using our five-step "Don't Go There" process.
Women are processors. Most women sort out their experiences by hashing them out with other women. When something good or bad happens to us, we talk about it. For example, if a woman is bullied by a certain type of mean girl, she may feel attacked. She then seeks out friends, coworkers, family members, or mentors to hear her story, confirm how she's feeling, and offer different ideas for addressing the situation.
When a woman feels attacked, she automatically goes through a three-step process:
1. She finds an ally and reports (with emotion) what the attacking woman did.
Example: "You've got to hear what she just did to me."
2. She follows the report with how she's feeling.
Example: "I'm so mad I could spit. She humiliated me in front of everyone. How could she do that?"
3. She then describes how she'd like to counterattack
Example: "I'm never talking to her again," or, "The next time she asks for help, she's out of luck."
If the attacked woman acts on her impulse to counterattack, she takes that workplace relationship out of the prof
Excerpted from MEAN GIRLS AT WORK by Katherine Crowley, Kathi Elster. Copyright © 2013 by Katherine Crowley and Kathi Elster. Excerpted by permission of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Why We Wrote This Book xvi
Who Needs This Book xvii
How to Read This Book xviii
Chapter 1 The Different Faces of Mean 1
What Is a Mean Girl? 1
Our "Don't Go There" Process 5
Here Is the "Don't Go There" Process 6
Coffee Break: Silent Weapons Women Use 7
Chapter 2 Meanest of the Mean 11
She's an Ice Princess 13
She Sees All Women as Adversaries 15
She Puts You Down Publicly 17
Coffee Break: How to Take a Mean Girl's Behavior Less Personally 19
She Gives Harsh and Demeaning Feedback 20
She's Extremely Argumentative 22
She Solicits Personal Information and Uses It Against You 23
Coffee Break: You Don't Have to Suffer Alone-When to Reach Out for Professional Help 26
She's Cold and Rejecting 27
In Her Own Words: She Sabotages You 28
She Wants to Get Rid of You Because You're Different 31
She Hacks into Your Private Communications (Twitter, Facebook, and E-mail), Then Uses Them Against You 33
Coffee Break: Developing Your Mean Girl Detector (Mean-o-Reader) 35
Just Between Us Girls 36
Chapter 3 Very Mean 39
Personal Strategies for Coping with Mean Girls 40
In Her Own Words: She's a Vicious Gossip 42
She Belittles Your Accomplishments 44
She Tells Lies About You to Others 46
Coffee Break: Why Some Women Cannot Admit to Their Bad Behavior 48
She Speaks as if You Aren't in the Room 49
She Publicly Makes Fun of Something You Confided to Her 51
She Has a Negative Reaction when You Receive Praise 52
She Talks Down to You 54
Coffee Break: Don't Forget to Breathe 56
She Praises You Publicly but Puts You Down Privately 57
She's Extremely Friendly, Then Extremely Cold 58
She Constantly Disagrees with You in Public 61
She Can't Forgive a Mistake You Made 62
Coffee Break: Could You Drop a Pound of Resentment? 64
She Agrees to Back You, but Doesn't 65
Just Between Us Girls 67
Chapter 4 Passively Mean 69
You Overhear Her Gossiping About You 70
Coffee Break: How Gossip Hurts 72
She Excludes You from a Meeting 73
In Her Own Words: She Excludes You from an Important E-mail 74
She Cuts You Out of a Project 76
She Fails to Give You Important Information 78
Coffee Break: Resisting the Temptation to Counterattack 79
She Goes Behind Your Back and Says She Can Do a Better Job 80
She Gives You and Another Woman the Same Assignment 82
She Says Yes when She Really Means No 84
Coffee Break: Strike when You've Cooled Off-Not in the Heat of the Moment 86
She Says Things That Sound Good but Feel Bad 87
Just Between Us Girls 88
Chapter 5 Doesn't Mean to Be Mean 91
She Spreads Rumors 93
Coffee Break: The No Gossip Diet 95
She Just Doesn't Do Her Job, Making You Look Bad 96
She's Chronically Late 98
She Continually Dumps Her Work on You 99
She Is Less Organized than You Are 101
Coffee Break: Reduce Her Abuse by Setting Limits 102
She's Always Depressed 104
She Uses Health Problems to Get Attention 106
She's Very Moody 108
You've Helped Her, but She Won't Help You 109
Coffee Break: It's Not Fair 111
She Excludes You from an Important Professional Decision 112
She's Overly Controlling 114
She Flaunts Her Social Status 116
Coffee Break: The Comparing Game 117
In Her Own Words: She's Jealous of Your Looks 119
She's Jealous when You Get Engaged or Married 120
She's Jealous of Your Youth 122
Just Between Us Girls 124
Chapter 6 Doesn't Know She's Mean 127
She Bosses You Around 129
She Constantly Offers Unsolicited Advice 131
Coffee Break: Before You Offer Advice 132
She Critiques Your Appearance 133
In Her Own Words: Her Jokes Are Hurtful 135
Coffee Break: Appreciating the Power of Words 136
She Infringes on Your Territory, Does Your Job, and Makes You Look Bad 137
She Takes Credit for Your Ideas 139
Coffee Break: When to Take a Conversation Offline 141
She Competes with You for the Boss's Attention 142
She Always Has to Be Right 144
She's More Experienced than You Are and Challenges Your Authority 146
Just Between Us Girls 148
Chapter 7 She Brings Out Your Mean 149
She Thinks She's Better and Smarter than She Really Is 151
She's a Nonstop Talker 153
She Asks Too Many Questions 154
Coffee Break: Accepting What We Don't Like 156
She Talks to Her Friends and Family All Day Instead of Doing Her Job 157
She's Rude to You 159
She's a Drama Queen 161
She Always Favors the Newest Hire 163
In Her Own Words: She Gets Promoted Because She Sleeps with the Boss 165
She Wants to Gossip with You About Others 166
Coffee Break: Why Gossip Is So Delicious 168
Just Between Us Girls 169
Chapter 8 Group Mean 171
A Workplace Clique Excludes You 173
A Workplace Clique Gossips About Someone and Wants You to Join In 175
Two or More Women Whisper when You Walk By 177
In Her Own Words: A Workplace Clique Harasses You 178
The Pack Attack-You're Attacked by a Group of Coworkers 181
Just Between Us Girls 183
Conclusion: Mean Girl Cheat Sheet and Parting Words 185