Dealing with Your Own Personal Mean Girl

Posted July 13, 2012 by Marcy Twete in On the Ladder

Last time I checked, the whole “mean girl” thing was supposed to be over in high school….maybe it extends to college, but certainly not to adult life, right? Wrong. It seems the concept of “mean girls” is one that eclipses generations, geography, and socioeconomic status. Girls fight. Women fight. And the “mean girls” concept is somewhere betwixt a fight and a feeling.

The “Mean Girl” Definition:

To adequately talk about this subject, we first have to define it. Here’s one definition of “mean girls” I found on a parenting website:

They are particularly good at turning friend against friend, and they target girls who they are jealous of, or who stick out from the crowd. Mean girls thrive on drama, and often resort to cyberbullying to torment their victims.

My Own “Mean Girl”:

I recently encountered a “mean girl” in my own life – certainly not to the extent that this definition implies, but enough to cause me a bit of hurt feelings and certainly put me in an awkward situation. I met this woman a number of months ago, and we became friends – not good friends, not best friends, in fact we didn’t ever hang out outside of the group we met within. We emailed back and forth a few times and shared some common interests, and she expressed interest in my new business. Over time, we became Facebook friends, LinkedIn connections, and she became a follower of Career Girl’s newsletter. Not a friend by any means, but someone I looked forward to getting to know better.

Fast forward a few months and suddenly, I’m shunned by said person. She defriended me on Facebook (ouch) and unsubscribed from my e-newsletter, calling it spam (bigger ouch). The problem lies not in her actions, as I can deal with someone not being my friend, but in the fact that I am subjected to seeing this woman semi-regularly in the group we are both a part of.

Much like having to see a bully on a bus or in a classroom, women who deal with “mean girls” or cast off friendships have to deal with the ramifications of being cordial or civil to these people as well.

Dealing with Your Own “Mean Girl”:

  • Don’t go it alone. When it comes to high school girls, often their friends and parents may not even know about the bullying they’re encountering – they’re embarrassed or afraid to talk about it. The same occurs with women. But isolating yourself when someone has hurt you or cast you off isn’t a good thing, either. Instead, talk with trusted friends, your spouse or mentors about the situation. Especially if you work together or have to be in close proximity, be sure you have the understanding of those around you in the situation. This isn’t equated to taking sides or gossiping. But surround yourself with the support you need to handle the situation with grace and ease.
  • Be the bigger person.It’s old advice, but it’s solid advice. Don’t stoop to their level. When you see the individual in question, greet them warmly and without attitude. Be the person who can see past what has happened and just allow yourself to be in a state of ambivalence, at least when you’re with the person, if not all the time.
  • Don’t assume intent. Our mothers said it when we were in high school, and I’m going to say it now – someone who is bullying or putting you down is probably doing it because of some flaw or insecurity they have in their own life. Don’t assume that someone is treating you badly because of you, because most of the time they’re treating you badly because of them.

So whether your “mean girl” is at work, in your group of friends, or somewhere else entirely, the best way to deal with them is to be your best self and present your best self at all times. Eventually, like an annoying bug, they’ll go away and you’ll feel better about the entire situation – at least, I hope so.

About the Author

Marcy Twete

Marcy Twete is a career fundraiser turned corporate responsibility executive, a career and networking expert and the author of the book "You Know Everybody! A Career Girl’s Guide to Building a Network That Works."