Tag Archives: Charlie Brown

Are Women the Worst (Workplace) Bullies?

3 May

Last week, Forbes published an interesting article titled: Why Women are the Worst Kind of Bullies:

What do YOU think?  My first reaction was:

Charlie Brown’s Lucy (or worse)… in the workplace

If you grew up in North America, you are probably familiar with the cartoon character “Lucy” from the Charlie Brown series.  Lucy would run roughshod over her “frenemies” and friends,  coddle up to her crush Shroeder, and generally disregard the feelings of anyone in her path (especially Charlie Brown, who she would ridicule and torment with endless promises to hold the football!)  Lucy was so ignorant of her own hostility that she even appoints herself the go-to problem solver with her “The Doctor is In” lemonade stand. (No matter, Lucy was still a bully.)

The topic of bullies is front and center these days thanks to the philanthropic efforts of Lady Gaga and Oprah at Harvard, the recent release of the documentary “Bully“, and a rise of suicides linked to cyber-bullying.  But bullying is not confined to schools – in fact, workplace bullying traditionally has been categorized and addressed as sexual harassment, if at all.  Adult bullying can take many forms such as narcissistic bosses (see my post: Walking on Eggshells – Source of Back Pain?), harassment, group think (pressure to conform to the wishes of the group), and biases against minorities/gender/age, etc.  The article in Forbes cites a much more insidious, everyday situation of workplace bullying where women don’t just usurp other women, but can even create hazards and obstacles for others.

It’s not a “Catfight”…

As a female, mechanical engineer by training, and an IT consultant and international speaker by experience, my career has not been traditional.  While it is common knowledge that men are intimidated by strong, confident women when it comes to relationships (I am seldom asked out by professional, single men), it is less frequent in the workplace.  When it is, I have found that in a male-dominated, professional workplace there is a direct and honest response – either the team embraces professional women or they do not.  Seldom when men are involved do I have to “guess” whether I can fit in and be productive.  At this point in my career, I have a name and a solid reputation in my industry, so I find that men will typically accept (and sometimes even celebrate) me on a team and see the positive contribution (there are exceptions of course!)

Stereotypically, it has not been the same situation with women who are on par or above my level – and that has been a source of confusion and at times, “shock and awe”.  In some professional (and more often in personal) situations, same aged women, on the surface, have welcomed me with open arms offering their friendship and help, then reached behind to stab me in the back, and in the process they never stopped smiling.  Sometimes it’s no wonder that men do not understand – I do not understand and I’m a woman!

It is a strange thing… granted, men and women everywhere will step on and use others to get ahead (is it human nature or nurture?) – but the behavior is different.  Men will more often attack head on, directly and consistently; there is no question about their intentions or offensive behavior.  Predictable, consistent, stab you in the chest.  I can accept that and take action to avoid the pain.

What is more difficult to deal with is the in-your-face-nice girl accompanied by the reach-behind-your-back to stab you behavior that women (again stereotypically) use on other women.  While we women are confounded to make sense of female-on-female treatment by our own gender, men often trivialize the behavior as a “Catfight” (thereby marginalizing it as hormones raging out of control.)  There is far more to the behavior than meets the eye, and it is an area undergoing frequent research (with few answers!)

When I look ahead to my daughter in the workplace, I realize that technology advances have not changed the human interactions (in fact they create less face to face communication).  Our workplace and human relations are really not much different today than 30 years ago.  Given my experiences, I posted several articles which may be of interest:

And I found several other interesting posts from others:

And of course, the recent maelstrom of frenzied activity stemming from the UK Mail post:

The question: “Why are females mean to other females?” is today either avoided or hotly debated, but the fact remains that the situation won’t simply go away by marginalizing it as “Catty behavior” or ignoring it all together.

As women, we have enough to deal with in life being parents, co-workers, survivors of the economy, caregivers, neighbors, significant others, and just plain noble citizens without having to watch out for other women gunning to get us!

In the words of Rodney King (the focus of the LA Riots 20 years ago) – Can’t we just get along?

Finding a good team of like-minded people!

I am fortunate to now be a part of a wonderful team at QSM, Inc. with confident, powerful, assertive women who are not intimidated or jealous of other professional women.  Our multi-disciplinary, gender balanced team is forward thinking and definitely supportive of each other.  I am blessed to say I’m on the same team with several high-powered, direct, accomplished, and supportive women – it is a dream come true!

The Way Forward…

I believe that women need to learn to start supporting other women, and we need to stop stereotyping men as the culprits to the bullying phenomenon.

It reminds me of the situation regarding minority cultures who point to other cultures and races as the source of their problems (that they cannot solve), when the answers realistically lie with working within their own community to create solutions.

This brings to mind the saying popularized by the Pogo cartoon:   “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

As popular self-help gurus point out, when you point a finger at another, there are four fingers pointing straight back at you!  As women and mothers, I believe that we need to start a movement (even a movement of one!) that nurtures, boosts, and supports other women – at home, work, and everywhere.   Such a movement of women (and supportive men) would take our country and our workplaces into a brighter future!

Today, take the first step to say a kind word to another – you just never know what that might lead to (especially if that person met a bully only moments before!)

Have a great week,


Happiness is… no expectations

11 Feb

Remember the Charlie Brown song “Happiness Is…”?

Growing up, happiness seemed like something I was born to live (and it’s true!)  Somehow through the years it eroded with mortgages, workloads, family stress, divorce, and life.  When you watch the evening news it is easy to see that happiness is not the mainstay in society but the road back to it can be as simple as the Charlie Brown song.

For me, happiness comes when I remove expectations of others.

This takes away a lot of the disappointment I used to experience when I expected something of others. Without expectations, there is room for positive surprises. Yes, I realize that life is an interconnected web of people, places and events, but it is in discovering my own pure worth where I find happiness. Reliance on anyone else to achieve my happiness is a surefire way to failure.

I believe Einstein’s quote:

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

The inverse of this is also true: sanity is doing something different each time so that you can expect different results.  Makes sense doesn’t it.

In my first half of life, insanity (from an Einstein perspective) ruled.  Now that I have tried the sane route (different things), I have gained new results.  I would like to share with you my different ways of looking at things that brings about different results.

  1. Hope for the best in others, but never expect it.
  2. Never make anyone a priority for whom you are only an option.
  3. You can only anticipate (and count on) you.

These are new adages for me!  In prior posts I s, I used to think that the Golden Rule (do unto others as you would like them to do unto you) was a universal law, but I know today that it is only an ideal.  People do as they please in spite of or in the absence of me and of you!  Just because your actions may be giving and considerate does not mean that anyone else will behave or  treat you well.

Let’s explore each adage:

Hope for the best in others, but never expect it.

Today more than ever, people are necessarily self-centered and foraging to make ends meet for their family. So, unless you lend them money or give them a high paying job, you are likely a bit player. Expect nothing from others, and it will remove your disappointment. In fact, should another respond positively, it is a bonus.

Instead of expecting that people will be considerate of you or treat you well, remember that you can hope for the best, but know that this may not happen. Expectations lead to disappointment – lower your expectations to none, and your disappointment will slowly disappear.  People will either live up to your new expectations (which are none) or do better. (Yes, I know that supporters of the Secret would argue that the way others treat you is your own manifestation – but this is utter b.s. You can only manifest your OWN behavior.)

Never make anyone a priority for whom you are only an option.

This is my adaptation of a quote I heard a few weeks ago by a dating expert.  As female (and some male) colleagues know – we often over-give our energy to others, prematurely.  We fall in love completely and genuinely and begin to take care of another (and even make him/her a priority in our life) before there is mutuality.

Some partnerships end up with one spouse taking care of the other (with good intentions) and the other taking care of him/herself. This can be prevented by following the adage and taking care of oneself first and foremost. Side dishes may be good at dinners, but not in relationships.

This realization came late for me as I spent too many years in a relationship where we both prioritized his needs. Fool me once, shame on you but fool me twice, shame on me! Never again will I make someone a priority for whom I am merely an option.

You can only anticipate (and count on) you.

This is one point I have included in prior blog posts but is worth repeating. We can only ever change our own behavior, and live in our own heads. As such, every other person we meet is governed by his/her own beliefs and directs behavior.

Since we have no control over anyone else’s mind (except in the case of temporary hypnosis), we can only take responsibility for and anticipate our own behavior. Removing this illusion of control from our lives frees us up for happiness.

Happiness is… no expectations.

Do you agree?

Wishing you a happy day!


Holidays got you down? Abort, retry, ignore…

29 Nov

This has not been an easy year for many people, including yours truly, and I’m just not getting into the so-called “Holiday Spirit” of giving, giving, giving!  I can understand the frenzy and excitement of the holiday season when one has small children to entertain and family members who gather near and far, but when those are fading memories and if you are not into commercialism, it can get to be just too much ado about nothing (aside from the religiosity of certain days).

As a self-employed professional whose work is exclusively traveling to foreign cities (and countries) to deliver keynote presentations, training seminars and consulting services, I’ve never had the luxury of corporate festivities. In addition, my children are grown and living elsewhere (yes, I’m close to them), and I live a single life enriched with friends and the companionship of one remaining cat.

I have no wish to rehash or restore the married years of yesteryear, and the consumer-retail-marketing aspect of the holiday season really holds no allure.  “Buy, buy, buy – get diamonds for your love – the best time of the year” – it’s all so nauseating.  All I want to say is Bah, humbug, who cares?  I’m living life in the present and I am happy with my choices – they just don’t match the joyous couple – center of the universe – apparently blissful existence that television and media purports as being essential.  So, why then do I feel anxious about the impending holiday season?

Does anyone else feel like this or am I an anomaly?  In the U.S. when there is only one day off for Christmas Day, it is common to find many people celebrating (or getting through the day) alone – it’s the reality today!  But, society, advertising and our media don’t seem to get this.  (I guess the almighty dollar still trumps sanity.)

With 46% of American adults currently single, we ought to celebrate and find ways to thrive without needing to be (co- or otherwise) dependent on others.  While humanity remains a social sport (we are “social beings” say the sociologists) it is not a guarantee that holidays will be a social event.

So, instead of saying bah, humbug, turn off the Christmas music already (hey, we just got finished with the election blues a couple of weeks ago!) – I’ve decided I’m going to resort to the Microsoft way of dealing with the holidays this year: 

Abort, retry, ignore!

Abort retry ignoreHere’s how I propose to use these three IT (information technology) based approaches to solve problems:  The next time that I am irritated by Christmas tunes or frustrated by holiday traffic jams or don’t feel like talking to a “Happy, happy, joy, joy” elf-like acquaintance about their holiday preparations, I’m going to:

Abort — Get out of the situation:  if it’s a store with obnoxious music, I’m going to walk out; if it’s a shopping mall parking lot – go somewhere else; if it’s being besieged by a friend who wants to go on and on about their wondrous preparations, I’m going to excuse myself and escape to my own space.

Retry — If I cannot get out of the situation (abort above), then I’m going to reframe the situation in my mind through meditation or gratitude thinking. For example, when the music triggers memories (good or bad) that I might not be prepared to revisit, I will change the channel in my head to one with positive energy:  think about how fortunate I am to have good weather, good health, good friends, good fortune — whatever it takes to get me out of the funk-of-the-moment brought on by the holidays.

Ignore — if the first two approaches don’t work (or are inappropriate for the situation), I plan to use the MS third tactic – IGNORE.  When I hit the ignore button in my brain it will turn the distraction off!  If it’s someone who is incessantly babbling, I will imagine that their mouth is moving without any sound coming out!  (Think of Peppermint Patty’s teacher in the Charlie Brown cartoons saying “Wyap wyap…”  I’ll be sure to say “uh huh” at the end when their mouth stops moving!)  If the offending trigger is music, I want to turn it off in my head and ignore it.  Nothing can enter my brainwaves or make me anything but happy without MY permission, so I plan to ignore whatever it is and go on with my life!

What do you think?  Would this be an option for you as well?

Your life is your choice!

Remember, you are exactly where you are supposed to be today (I love the saying “the Present is a gift you give to yourself!)  and you are the best that you will ever have  – and that’s more than enough for the world.  (Remember you have to love yourself completely and unconditionally – that’s all that really matters in life!)

Have a great week, and let me know how the Abort, retry, ignore approach works for you. I know that I’m going to practice it at least a couple of times this week!



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