Tag Archives: Youth

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,

Carol

Better off dead… Never

3 Apr

The news got personal today when I read about a local business leader‘s suicide at age 59, because he was someone I knew.  While I would not say Bill was more than an acquaintance (he probably would not have remembered meeting me), he was someone who sent me mass emails, sponsored community events I volunteered for, and hosted networking socials I attended.  I feel sad and surprised by his early demise.

We cannot judge another’s life…

In reading the news story, I did not realize how unkind the local press had been to Bill of late, despite his efforts to better our community through a variety of profit and not-for profit endeavors.  One such project that brought him particular disdain (according to the story) offered hope to the homeless with an innovative newspaper project. In reading this, I wondered to what extent the publicity contributed to his death. Moreover, I pondered the cruelty that our society (and as a part of it, we) bestows on our own members.  We so often read the papers without a second thought about the effects on those involved.  We seldom consider that the people in the news are people who hurt, bleed, and feel just the same as you and I.

We distance ourselves from those we read about (victims, criminals, politicians, and others in the news) by differentiation. We say “we are nothing like them, therefore it won’t/can’t/will never happen to us!”  Consider our callousness towards politicians or millionaires or foreigners – it is easy to read about their missteps and walk away, because we are nothing like them.

Our popular press sensationalizes every story to exhaustion – so much so that the truth is secondary to the number of papers that sell.  TMZ (a scandal-seeking daily show) ridicules celebrities – and to our discredit, we comfortably scoff with them.

We seldom stop to consider others…

If we stopped to think, even for a minute, that the people in the news are just like you and I – imperfect human beings trying to live a good life based on principles (which may not be the same as yours or mine) – we would stop the madness and the presses.  We might even be kinder as a nation on those who step out of the fold to lead us.

I don’t know about you, but I see (and often feel) an increased world “intolerance” today, and this bothers me.  (As an aside, one of the most amusing post-it notepads I ever saw featured an old woman saying “there is nothing I hate more than intolerance.”)  We seem to feign acceptance of all races and creeds of people – as long as they are JUST LIKE US.

Kindness and acceptance of others could certainly make a difference to our neighbors and strangers who do good, and who more often than not are criticized for their efforts. We get so busy at being busy that we neglect to  notice (and celebrate) those who are altruistic, who give without expectations, who give of their time or money, and who appear strong in the public eye.  Like Bill, there are those among us who feel alone and maybe even despondent.

Circular reference – it’s all Related to a theme…

In a related theme, I have posted how bullying causes pain on several occasions – and lately about the documentary “Bully” making the rounds in theaters nationwide. (See Sticks and Stones are Secondary.)

Lady Gaga, Oprah, Harvard University, and a cast of celebrities and leaders have also stepped up their support to end bullying and make schools more accepting.  A new campaign called “It Gets Better” has the support of our President and motivates students to keep going in the face of adversity. Why not look at how our own seemingly innocent behaviors and attitudes affects those around us?

Supporting each other goes so much further than tearing each other down… pass it on!

Better off dead… NEVER!

I do not know what Bill’s life was like outside of the public arena.  He obviously had a struggle with demons that convinced him that he was better off dead than alive. He probably did not realize how many  people respected him (like me) and valued his contributions.  Somehow, the negatives overwhelmed the positives, and now it is too late to tip the scales to the plus side.

While we cannot save Bill, how about others?  Why not share a kind word of support instead of a critical barb today?  You never know, you might bring a ray of sunshine that makes the difference to someone you may not even know!

Thank you for reading… I appreciate you!

Carol

Drama Free Living

15 Mar

I do not know who said

Youth is wasted on the young;

but more and more I believe that this is true.

In our youth, we worry about everything: Will we have enough money?  Can we get ahead? Will my boyfriend/girlfriend be true to me? Who can I trust? What do people think of me? What can I do at work to make a good impression? Will I ever fall in love? Where should I live? What can I do to improve my career prospects? Will my children be smart?  Am I a good parent? And so on…

We spend so many of our youthful days (our 20’s and 30’s) worrying and engaging in drama-filled lives that we often miss out on the sheer pleasure of being alive.  I know I did.  I worried about family, loved ones, children, my children’s friends, my friends, the friends I didn’t have, career, my spouse, my spouse’s career, my career, schoolwork, field trips, out-of-town trips, you name it.  As a young mother, I was a master of creating and living in drama.  If there was not a crisis looming or imminent, I created one or allowed my children to do so.  What a waste of time, energy, and heartbeats!

Today, my life is much simpler and happier than the bygone days of worry about things I could not (fortunately!) control.  My children are grown and happily independent; I have the freedom to come and go as I please; my cat is happy and well fed; I have enough work and money to be happy; I enjoy lots of social occasions; I am healthy; and I am optimistic about the future.  What more could one want?

I wished for a drama-free life years ago – one filled with peaceful days free of conflict, happy times with my children, unconditional love and acceptance from myself, and supportive friendships.  Today these are no longer wishes but my reality, and I am truly grateful.

Youth may be wasted on the young, but the joy of youth is certainly not wasted on those of us who stay young at heart.  Wish for a drama-free life, and it too can be yours!

Have a great day,

Carol

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