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Mean Girls at Work – How to Best Deal with Them?


We have all seen bullies in school and colleges, we all dread them as they make people miserable. As we had bullies in school, there are bullies at work too.

Mean Girls at WorkIn this article, we shall be discussing about mean girls at work and some effective ways to deal with them.

Who are Mean Girls?

In schools, people used to bully and embarrass people; they had great fun in doing so, but what do mean girls exactly do at the workplace?

1. They isolate you:

We all want to have a good time at work; we all aim to get along with all. Mean girls will isolate you and will not include you in any meetings or lunch dates. This makes one feel bad, you will feel why am I left out from everything. What am I doing wrong?

Mean girls do this for many reasons; it could be due to jealousy, need for attention or maybe they see you as a competition. Mean girls feel empowered by such behavior.

2. They are envious:

Mean girls are very immature; they need things, which others want. They will boycott on others ideas or projects. They can go to a height that they would want to destroy someone’s reputation.

3. Steal your work:

Mean girls will steal your work or your ideas; they do this out of jealousy, incompetence or pure laziness. They are very eager to climb up the corporate ladder, but hardly do anything to deserve it. They make friends with people just by the intention of taking advantage of their intelligence.

4. They lie, gossip and spread rumors:

In order to eliminate a personal threat, mean girls will lie and spread rumors about you to spoil your reputation. They attack on office relationships, work ethics or even personal relationships.

5. They are manipulative:

Mean girls are often hard to recognize, as they appear very charismatic and charming. However, a contrast to their looks are their intentions, they twist the options of others and manipulate them. They get their things done and make people believe what they want.

6. They struggle with anger:

Mean girls are very vocal with their anger, they will not let go of any situation to bring you down, they would do either name-calling, direct insulting or unnecessary coughing or rolling of eyes, to make you feel uncomfortable.

7. They are power-hungry:

Mean girls want all the power, they do not believe in asking for others opinion, but instead, they want everything in their control. Bosses who are bullies will never respect teamwork but always take credit of things done well.

Effects of bullying:

We saw how mean girls bully in different ways. It has a number of negative consequences and can have a lasting effect on professional and personal life. A victim of bullying is seen to be avoiding work and seen to be sad very often.

Effects of bullying can lead to disengaged at work and demotivated, it can also lead to anxiousness, loss of confidence and self-esteem issues may arise.

The victim feels there is something wrong in him or her and he or she does not belong or deserve to be in the workplace, but the fact says otherwise. A person can be very intelligent and hardworking but mean girls harm this capacity and ruin the wellbeing of the person and company.

Bullying can also lead to some prolonged and serious consequences like the loss of concentration, mental illness, stress and depression; this will affect a person’s career and will affect the overall productivity and profit of the company.

Excuses for bullying:

Bullying can easily be recognized, some people join the bullies to make themselves feel good, they become bullies themselves. Some people recognize the bullies or mean girls but they choose to ignore them.

It is necessary to bring bullies to notice, as it is harmful to the victim as well as the company. Mean girls are often very charming and they look for excuses to cover up their wrongdoings.

Mean girls excuses are- ‘just a misunderstanding’, they pretend as if they did nothing. Some superiors who support mean girls will say

  1. They are passionate about getting things done, hence they push people
  2. They are firm and self-confident hence they act this way
  3. They are under a lot of pressure to get things done, hence they are acting out this way, it is just a phase and a consequence of pressure, but they are nice by heart.
  4. She is a nice person, she won’t bully anyone.

Some of the mean girls hold power at the workplace, so people tend to choose to ignore. They feel the person is an indispensable part of management and saying anything against her will not change anything and will, in turn, harm them back.

No matter who the person is, or how powerful he or she is, you deserve to be treated with respect. Whenever you face mean girls at work, you should take action and not sulk and suffer.

Ways To Deal with Mean Girls at Work:

1. Confront them the very first time:

People will respect you if you respect yourself. A person with strong self-esteem takes no humiliation from others and confronts the person directly when he feels mistreated. Mean girls look for weak targets or the people who may break to pressure easily, they feel great pleasure from others pain.

Consider satiation when you faced a bully at work.

Bully- Hey You, I hate the idea that you put up today’s meeting, are you stupid.

(This dialogue is said to you in front of many people)

What will you do?

  1. Say nothing
  2. Say Sorry
  3. Run to washroom crying
  4. Ask what she did not like
  5. Confront her personally

If your answer is not no. 5 then you are in great trouble, turn the tables and stand up for yourself, you will face the same humiliation from time to time.

Let us elaborate on response no. 5 – Confront her personally.

You need to establish the fact that you do not suffer and sulk the humiliation but respond to it immediately.

Your response should be – Hey, I cannot control what you feel about my idea, but I certainly believe it as not stupid. I do not appreciate you humiliating me in front of everyone, I can do the same way to you, but I will be a bigger person here and act mature. Look we need to work together, and it’s better we respect each other. I hope I made myself clear.

By response like this, you let the mean girl know that what she thinks does not bother you and you will continue the way you work. Also, you made it clear that you do not tolerate such things and want her to act mature.

I have written about this tip in an elaborate manner as this is the one that matters the most.

Be brave and stand up for yourself when you feel you are being bullied, do not be gullible and submissive and suffer from bullies behavior.

Confronting them in first go will take them. A mean girl will no longer see you as a weak target and she may stop bullying you thereafter.

2. Don’t get emotional:

Mean girls love to see you suffer if you get emotional, her mission is accomplished. If you do not have the courage to confront her, the least you can do is – ignore her completely, not get affected with anything she says.

Although I would advise to confront her, not getting emotional is yet another effective step.

3. Blaming yourself:

Some people take comments very seriously and start to doubt themselves. Always remember mean girl is acting the way she is, not because she is better than you are, but the only thing is she is better than you are at mind games.

Do not ever blame yourself for being mistreated, if you were hired in the workplace, they must have seen some caliber in you.

4. Do your best:

If you do not give your best at work, mean girl gets a chance to capitalize on that opportunity and bug you more on that. So give your best presentations, be at work on time and avoid taking long lunch breaks. When it comes to defending yourself against any complaints, you have your bases covered.

Although am not saying that this behavior alone will stop Mean girl being mean, but at least you are not at fault when you are blamed for anything.

5. Build a support network:

Mean girls have their own group who harass people; you should also look for some support groups. Build a relationship with Coworkers and hang out with them. This will help you a lot and will not make you feel lonely. A mean girl will try her best to turn your friends against you, so you need to be careful with that as well. Do not overshare with anyone, as they can stab you in back.

6. Document your arguments:

The behavior of Mean girls is not justified but, one has no proof against it. Suppose a mean girl spills a coffee on you purposefully and pretend it is an accident; How will you prove that?

Alternatively, take an example of making you feel isolated, how will you prove that you are being mistreated?

When the torture from Mean girl is excessive and you decide you need to report to human resources, you should have solid proofs and should have the events jotted down in detail. It is advised you maintain a logbook of the behavior and wrongdoing of mean girl. Do not keep that copy in office or on office PC. When you go to human resources you can let them know the events in sequence, they also get an idea that you are not faking it.

7. Seek help:

People think HR is their friend and they can share everything openly. Am not saying HR cannot help you, but they sometimes do not have the liberty to keep things private. You can seek the help of a legal counselor, a trusted friend or a mentor; they will give you an unbiased solution. A legal counselor can give you advice, which will get you out of torture without having to lose your job.

Internal people from office may not keep thing secret, but seeking outside help will benefit you a lot. Sometimes the things are not very serious and you just want a listening ear and empathy, at such times your trusted friend can help you out. Keep in mind that do not just sit and sulk at the situation, find ways by talking to people about it.

8. Go to Counselor:

Emotional health should not be ignored at any cost. If you feel very stressful and unable to cope up, there are high chances your mental health is affected. If you find yourself doubting every step, you are avoiding to go to work; then it is definitely a time to see a professional counselor.

9. Be stress-free by exercise:

Apart from looking at your emotional health, it is also necessary to take care of your physical health. Meditation and daily moderate exercise help to lift the spirit and make you feel happier and energetic. Eat a healthy diet and do not ignore a good night’s sleep. There could be instances that a bad day at work drove away from your sleep, but be calm and go to sleep.

10. Educate yourself:

Learn about company policies and search over the internet how your situation can be better. There are laws to protect you regarding office torture. There are many articles and books available over the internet that can help you out with this situation.

11. Do not expect your bully to change:

Keep in mind that mean girl’s behavior should not be ignored, some people think that the situation will get better if they just ignore.

In addition, do not ever think of leaving the job, why should you be at lose for someone else’s behavior. Make the mean girl suffer instead.

Do not expect the mean girl’s behavior to change or bullying to stop; she strives to see you suffer. She gets pleasure by making you uncomfortable.

Do not get hurt and sulk due to the behavior of mean girl, I hope my tips will be beneficial to you. Stay strong and fight back. Good luck