Human Resources News & Insights

The worst workplace bullies (Hint: not men)

Sure, men engage in workplace bullying. The statistics show, however, that women can be terrors, especially when dealing with other women. One study by the Workplace Bullying Institute, for instance, shows that female office bullies — those who commit verbal abuse, sabotage performance or hurt relationships — tend to target other women more than 70% of the time. Male bullies, if nothing else, spread the misery equally and tend to target men and women at about the same rate.

Which of course leads to the question:  Why do women pick on other women? Workplace psychologists have at least three theories:

Scarcity. As women advance, the number of spots available to them at the top of the workplace pyramid tends to tighten. When that happens, the bullying begins.

The boot camp. Many women believe they’ve struggled on their own to “make it” against the odds, so why give a lift to someone else? Let them struggle, too.

Reverse favoritism. Some women who are in positions of authority fear they’ll be viewed as too sympathetic to other women. The result: The women in authority tend to overcompensate and go rougher on other women.

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Comments

  1. I’m curious if this applies to other minorities as well, or was that part of the study?

  2. LorraineHL says:

    Down south, particularly for African-American women, we call it the ‘crabs in the bucket’ syndrome. Place some crabs in a bucket and watch how they climb over each other. I am an African-American woman and my worst bosses have been black females who have these three theories down to an art.

  3. I’m not black, but I’ve seen it with my own eyes. However, I’ve seen white woman undermine every woman in their office, but not the men. So, it’s pretty dog eat dog on both sides. Sad.

  4. I agree with this so much!! I have had both male and female supervisors and the women have definitely been terrible. My current supervisor is a classic example of “I had it hard, so should you!” She is such a downer and so combative. I actually dread coming to work and have missed days just to avoid her. Please offer any advice!

  5. I have worked for a Native American organization for nearly 17 years (as a non-Native). I have never in my life been subjected to so much racism on the job: Natives against Natives (who are of a different Tribe); Natives against non-Natives; Native women – in particular, against non-Native women. I am at the management level responsible for Human Resources and am exhausted from treading this tightrope. I am definitely not been immune, myself, from some of the most vile comments I have ever hears said about me. At 66 I am finally throwing in the towel and looking for a new position.

  6. It’s women’s tendency to be threatened by other women. If a female supervisor or coworker is threatened by you (a female) personally or professionally, you’ll be in for a rough time of it. It doesn’t matter the industry, the level of the position or the department. And this is true outside of the work environment as well. I doubt it’s true with other minorities in general. I think it’s just a woman thing. And then you have the women who simply want to make others look bad for the sake of making themselves look better and more competent…no matter who they step on to do so. I’m a woman and I don’t get it. I think it’s juvenile and absurd but it’s the way it is.

  7. When I had a terrible supervisor I was at the end of my rope. I either had to quit my job or find a way to deal with the situation. I started praying for my supervisor every day. Soon he was transferred to another department and I was able to keep my job.
    Note: In order for this to work, your prayers have to be completely sincere. You may not receive the same answer from God that I did but I assure you, your prayers will be answered.

  8. Isn’t this syndrome true for politics also? Listening to women savage Hilary Clinton in the 80s and Sarah Pallin today makes my toes curl. Much more vicious than men. I think jealousy plays a part, and the Japanese idea that “the nail that sticks up must be hammered down.” My advice to Karen is to work hard at not threatening your bully. Ask her advice where you know she has expertise and when you honestly have a compliment regarding something she did well, give the compliment happily and freely. We know bullies are really insecure cowards, right? Show her you’re on her side.

  9. Karen, I’m sorry you have to go through that, especially at this time when our economy is in such an uproar. If your position at the company that you are at is “secure” (or at least as secure as it can be) you dont want to chance going somewhere else and starting all over. Stick it out, bite your tongue, vent to people around you who are trustworthy.
    I do know of other women like that, fortunatly, at this time, I only work with/for men. I know that it can be difficult but stick it out and when thing get better and jobs are plentiful again and you can leave that company and move on … then let her have it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. I know the type very well. We just dismissed such a person and it was the best thing we did.

  11. This reply is to Karen. At all times, stay professional.

    For seven years I worked under a woman who everyone in the company referred to as the “shark lady”. Lady, she was not. She could be quite ruthless. My advice to you is to stay on your toes and know your job and at least most of the answers to her questions. Do not try to “out-do” her but do not cower around her either. Keep your head up and chances are you will earn her respect.

    It took me seven years, but when I finally left that company I was very confident that I had earned her respect if not her friendship.

  12. We have a situation like this in our small (20), branch office and it’s getting out of hand!!! For a very long time, the only women in the office (there were 5 of them) were basic clerk/clerical positions. I was hired about a year ago (I’m the HR manager), and a few weeks after I got here one of our female project managers was transferred from our division office. I feel like they are intimidated by having two female professionals in their midst. I can tell you that not only have the two of us felt the claws come out, but the male employees in our office, who are for the most part all management and/or salaried professionals, have noticed the shift. I didn’t think the race thing was an issue until our Training VP mentioned to me that maybe it was, since we are all Hispanics and they can’t talk about us without us understanding. I have always felt that working and/or being friends with males was much easier than with females, but now that I’m dealing with this, my feelings have very much been reaffirmed!

  13. I don’t understand why we women tend to go after each other. The women who worked hard to bring us some equality must be shocked. Look how hard we are on women in the media or politics who rise to a prominent position. Maybe it is jealousy I don’t know. I do know that I have more issues with the women in my office than the men.

  14. Kill ’em with kindness (and professionalism). That’s all I can say. It took time where I work, but now things are fine (most of the time). I choose not to ‘join in’ the feeding frenzy of the sharks. I have earned the respect of others by not being ‘like them’. Grade school/high school all over again!
    Stay strong!

  15. I have watched this phenomenon for many years and watched good women get driven out of the workplace by these tactics. Mostly the “I’ve suffered and you will, too” tactic and delivered by women who are a bloc of the highest performers in the building. Sorry girls, but my line about this tradition is that “Women are more territorial than wolves”. Reminds me so much of Native American and black on black violence that pervades these and other cultures. It’s all racial (and gender) “Gang” mentality. Can’t we all grow up and get the work of the business done without all of the drama?

  16. My hats off to all the women who have contributed. Only when I started working mostly with women did I realize that this was an issue. The disheartening thing is, I don’t know of any women who AREN’T aware of this. Yet somehow it keeps perpetuating.

    Hang in there, Karen. Like Cathy said, the only thing you can do is stay professional.

  17. Lorraine – your ‘crabs in the bucket’ analogy would be more humerous if it wasn’t so true. It is going to take many more generations before women start putting more emphasis on being a smart, team player. Too many have got along for too long using other atributes. What a shame women are so insecure about their talents and intelligence. The women I admire are confident and strong and would never be one of the crabs in the bucket. They don’t think the work place is a sorority house, a fashion show, or a place to find a husband. It is work.

    Here’s to good women…may we raise one, may we know one, may we be one.

  18. I have had great relationships with most of my female bosses. Years ago my boss was the most secure, confident and professional person and she had no problem mentoring me or teaching me anything that could help my job performance. Co-workers have been a different story. I’m lucky it was back in the day where a new job was easily found because I quit several.

    As a boss, I have had great relationships with my subordinates because I look at them as equals and remember the lessons of my mentor. It seems there is always that one bad apple. Like Roni, I pray but will admit I struggle praying for people I don’t like; but then, they need it most.

  19. This verse helps me thru my day
    “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men. (or women)
    Colossians 3-23

  20. Judy Buckley says:

    What an eye-opener! I’ve heard women can be mean to each other in relationships (like friendships) but really haven’t had problems with co-workers, and I’ve worked for a LONG time. This is sad – where’s that Golden Rule when you need it? I agree with Cathy and sl – it’s best to remain professional and know/do your job well. I’m so glad I have a great boss!

  21. I have recently heard of a new pitch for what is called the “Gamma” woman over the “Alpha” woman. I ran it by one of my female Directors, and she loved the theory and totally indentified with it. When building my recent company, part of my setbacks were with Alpha women. Unless it benefited them, they did not do it. I have primarily worked with men in growing my other firm and my partner is my husband. Men show it like it is..so you know your battles. Some women tend to play mind games and make it personal. But, there are Gamma women out there who are confident in themselves, but also value the importance of team work. You will find many of them played sports as youths over mall visitations. So look for the Gamma gals!

  22. Alessandra Pinto Gonzalez says:

    I work in a manufacturing company in the Sales/Marketing Dept run by men (all born and bred in NY or the Northeast) and the only other woman is an older woman from NJ. I would rather work in a department full of aggressive, loud New York Men than deal with this woman. I think the difference between men and women boils down to men can seperate business from personal, women keep grudges and take everything personal. With men you yell at them, they yell back and it’s over things are back to normal. With women the issues are never over with!!! I have two small kids at home and sometimes I feel that I never leave the “kids” at home when I have to deal with this woman!!!!! Nothing personal ladies, just tired of all the DRAMA!!!

  23. I have to say that the bullying from women can come from the employees and other subordinates when you are a manager moving up within an organization. Many administrative women have a tough time working for other women, whether it be jealousy or whatever. It is not just the management that creates the problem. I hae seen it done to others as well as to myself.

  24. My experience is as a woman in management that women can be evil! Lord help you if you are in a position of power and they want your job. There are no limits or boundaries they won’t try to unseat you. When you question a performance issue, they try to make it personal and start a campaign against you with others in the office even with your boss. In my experience, men do not play those games. Then women wonder why women don’t succeed. When you are just trying to do your job, it is described by your male management as “cat fights”, and we do it to ourselves! If only women would just stick to professionalism!!

  25. I agree it is totally sad. Anytime I’ve ever interviewed a woman for a position I have made it very clear up front that I will not tolerate ‘cat fights’ as I call it. And I have always made sure that I set the correct example. Recently, for a couple of personal reasons, I have been studying narcissism. Very interesting. Sounds like from many of the comments there are a lot of women in the workplace with narcissitic tendencies. You might considering doing some study on this subject. If nothing else it can help you, either in understanding why they do what they do, or in helping you deal with it. The bottom line is you can not change anyone else, you can only change yourself. You can use these opportunities to grow tremendously in your own personal development.

  26. I just have to jump in here. As the author of Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office I’m often asked about this phenomenon of women bullying other women. I don’t disagree that it happens, but to read these comments it would make it seem as if we are all “crabs in a bucket” (love that phrase, Lorriane!) all the time. I have a different take on it. I believe that we’re bullied equally by both men and women, but since it’s not as easy to confront a man who bullies us, we complain more about the women who do. We don’t expect such treatment from a woman so it creates disonance that makes it more memorable than if a man did it. Similarly, we may tend to take our frustrations out on other women because that’s also an easier path — one less likely to be met with resistance. I invite you to join in the blog I write daily with other authors that provides you with tips for how to navigate the thin pink line with courage and confidence: http://www.thethinpinkline.com. And by the way… “nice girls” are those who act in ways they were taught in childhood. Nice is necessary for workplace success but it’s not sufficient.

  27. I have to disagree with you, Dr. Lois Frankel. I don’t think we’re bullied equally by both men and women – at least in my experience. I have never had a male boss treat me anywhere near as badly as a couple of female bosses I’ve had in the past. I count my lucky stars every day that my new current female boss has been a good mentor (so far). 🙂
    P.S. I read and very much enjoyed your book, Nice Girls…. 🙂

  28. I also have to disagree with Dr. Frankel. I see much more bullying by women than men. There are the issues with harassment, etc. that women face with men. However the day to day bullying seems much worse among women.

  29. I disagree with Dr. Frankel’s first point — it is not my experience that men in a professional workplace bully as often as women, probably because we’ve directed so much training at men on this topic. I do agree with the second point that women bully other women because they can often get away with it. Maybe it’s time for more training?

  30. Judy Buckley says:

    Reading these posts makes me understand better the popularity of those “reality” shows – you know, the ones that reward any kind of back-biting, underhanded behavior in the name of competition. All this so the “winner” can get money – what values! (I hate those shows!) I think this bullying behavior in the workplace should not be tolerated – management needs to set the tone. At my place of employment, we are expected to treat each other with respect, period. Probably not easy to oversee in a large company, but our small one does just fine. We’ve rarely had disagreements. Of course, ours is a “caring profession” workplace with a long-standing core staff and very little turnover, so maybe that explains some of it. My boss is a female, by the way, and always willing to mentor people, reach out to the community and to staff in any way she can. Does that make her a “Gamma”? – haven’t heard that expression before. So glad I’m not swimming with the sharks!

  31. LorraineHL says:

    Dr. Frankel, I purchased your book, ‘Nice Girls Don’t Get The Corner Office’ a few years ago and I love it!!! This book helped me view myself and other women in the workplace in a completely different light. I still read it to brush up on some ideas.

    Sadly, women can’t seem to harmonize in the workplace as well as men. We have a tendency to take things too personally. Please don’t let Jane Doe come in next week with a new hair cut, two new outfits with matching new shoes, and a big smile on her face, the women will assume she must have gotten a raise or she becomes the target of jealousy; what the women don’t know is that Jane Doe was treated to a makeover by a loved one. Let’s not forget how often we gossip about one another. It’s a never-ending cycle.

    A male friend of mine is a director of a department and said women always keep stuff going. He also mentioned that women flood his office the majority of the time with petty, he said/she said mess way more than men.

  32. Gene McIntyre says:

    Here are my thoughts; being a woman and being in a leadership role. Some times I wonder if it is truly that women are tougher as bosses or if it is just that because we are women, people have a harder time dealing with our tough leadership approach. To the person that avoids her manager, I would encourage you to do what my team members do, provided, of course you have a back up plan as in a second level supervisor that would protect you from retaliation. My team members know I am a very demanding boss. I have asked them to clearly tell me when my demands are unreasonable or when anything I do or say may make them wish they were working some place else. The result: I don’t have to modify my leadership style but I do curve it every time it becomes too much for my team to handle. We joke about my style all the time, my weaknesses and my strengths and theirs, of course. They feel comfortable telling me when too much is too much. Most importantly, I have given them the right and freedom to go to my supervisor if one day they feel I’m having a hard time listening to them. Because of this, very rarely have they taken this approach. But when they have, and I have been in the same office with one of them and my supervisor, I have listened and engaged them in frank conversation and we have both left the meeting re-energized and willing to continue working together. Hope this is helpful…

  33. It seems to me that many perceive a woman doing/saying the same thing as her male counterpart is a “bitch,” but he is just “authoritative,” “decisive,” or “a go-getter.” She’s bossy, he’s assertive, focused, agressive, ambitious. She’s domineering, he’s a leader, powerful, etc etc. How often do you hear male supervisors challenged in meetings, versus female supervisors?

    We are so used to men being dominant at home and work, it may take another generation or two to unlearn the old habits and expectations.

    Age, cultural influences, and prior work experience can compound the situation.

    Another issue I have noticed is some women seem to have latent authority issues from their childhood relationships with parents, especially mom. It’s a real challenge to have a pleasant relationship with a subordinate who insists on challenging every little instruction. While suggestions are welcome, I do not have to justify every decision I make and I certainly do not have the time to explain why things must be done or how they must be done. Some decisions are made on the basis of confidential information, or higher up the food chain. (Remember how our elementary school teachers graded us on “listens & follows instructions”? There’s a reason for that!)

  34. It’s a cultural thing. In “society” women are NOT allowed to disagree or not like something. They must smile, look pretty and speak only when spoken to.

    That is what society teaches and that is why Desperate Housewives is a really popular show. (One that I detest). Not to mention the media, those women in magazines are not real, HOWEVER society is “telling” our women that they MUST look like that or they are not attractive.

    And all of this makes women jealous and insecure, usually unconsciously, but sometimes very deliberate. It also has an animal instinct, we are trying to get the “best” mate and by making another women look bad, especially in front of a man, is their messed up way of “dealing” with it.

    Have confidence in yourself, live by the Golden Rule and Colossians 3-23 (like was mentioned earlier) and you’ll do just fine :o)

  35. Hi Everyone, I am the Director of Sales for a very large resort in Myrtle Beach, SC.
    I have in my office a little sign that says “Strong Women,may we know them ,may we raise them, may we be them. I do beleive if we all adopt our childhood upbringing that still comes back to me
    almost all the time, “Play Nice”. I work with a couple of extremely insecure women that constanly keep something going. I actually think the insecure women are as bad or worse than any bullies. You can get “rid” of bullies in the office by reminding any who participate about Harrassment Laws.
    The insecure ones run me up a wall. I do not beleive in “babying” the insecure ones because they think someone is talking about them. Be a woman, do the job, have fun, be strong in the way you act and speak, do not participate in idle gossip. We as women have to work together to excel in the workplace. Bullies need to see how others see them,as well as insecure ones~~not respected. I think Kate made an extremely good point~bringing issues from the past to the job.No time for that in this economy. Karen

  36. Natalie, I disagree. Women are not required to simply smile, shut up and look pretty. To say we are “NOT allowed to disagree” is an absurd exaggeration. Maybe we live in two very different parts of the country and maybe society is different for each of us. However the fact that we have prominent females in our government says a lot that women are fully “allowed” to be successful and have a voice. Your attitude is a very negative example of the bitterness that I think causes many women to be disliked in the workplace. Women need to work to their full potential and not constantly act like the “martyr” that everyone is out to “bring down”. We just need be professional and do our jobs.

  37. Well…I was bullied since my first day on the job! My supervisor pretended to be insane/schizophrenic in order to freak me out. This wasn’t about deadlines or other disputes. This was sheer hatred and descrimination. I could have handled it, but I had to ask myself: is this normal and where do you draw the line? This woman couldn’t even bother to dress properly yet ran around terrifying others and screaming at them that they are ugly. Like I said, I could handle this but there comes a time when you have to evaluate the situation and see your co-worker is truly brutal and ill. Good Luck everyone, and thanks for the interesting discussion.

  38. Judy Buckley says:

    Miranda – Wow! You’re sure this woman was “pretending to be insane/schizophrenic” – and does she not have a supervisor? Somebody needs to sit her down – that behavior is not acceptable. If she is truly ill (and schizophrenia is no joke) she needs to be guided to help (and probably some meds) which could control symptoms. If she truly does this to freak people out, she’s “sick” in a different way and still should be directed to get help. This is where the progressive discipline process comes in. I feel for you for having to be subjected to such a thoroughly unpleasant environment. It’s not normal and if you’re still in that environment and she’s still acting out, the line is drawn here – you might consider reporting her behavior (specific examples, and hopefully witnessed or corroborated) to her supervisor.

  39. Thanks for the advice, Judy. She dropped comments sometimes about feeling “trapped” and “unhappy” at the workplace…so it felt like we were all losing out on having a good environment to be in, it was such a waste. She was incredibly intelligent, so I found it bizarre that she was unable to cope with the workload and constantly on the edge. I was going to complain about it, but she told me once “we all stick together”, and grinned (she targets people when she’s alone in a room with them or with the submissive secretary). I don’t think I will ever really know what went on there, it was a bit surreal. Luckily I’m not there anymore. I just learned to focus on better people.

  40. I just opened this email and it is very interesting. It is obvious so very many intelligent men and women
    read the articles and all have such valid statements to make.
    I have been in my position for almost thirty years. I have had the pleasure of working with some of
    the most professional and the most qualified in our line of work. I have also worked with some real jokes that brought so much turmoil into the workplace that it was difficult to work at times. The smart and profesional ones can see through this behavior in a second. That is why the bullies
    and gossipers never have the good salaries and the executive positions, but for a short time. Sooner or later true colors shine. It is very difficult to fake knowing and doing a job for an entire career. So many times it is the bully or gossipers positions that have to be covered by the professionals. I know the status of our economy is terrible right now. One good thing that could possibly come out of this is people can not stand around and gossip and be stupid and talk about petty junk. I still work with a couple that do this but they are on their way out if the economy gets worse. Has anyone ever had to listen to two women talk about something so petty for forty-five minutes while the phone rings off the hooks and others have to take messages and pick up the slack? We have to be so careful about what we say or the tone of our voice. After thirty years I still find it difficult to just say,”I do know care what you did last night, I do not care to hear how much you drank, or which man you were with, so on, and so on.” The minute someone in higher management than I walks in and they are the perfect little employees. There is only so much one can document without coming across as being a whiner yourself thus turning upper management againt the one reporting the extravagant waste of time. It is hard the beleive the lazy employees band together and cover for each other. I personally would never ask someone to lie for me. So we good employees that have worked for so long in our positions genuinely care about customer service, the way we act, talk, walk and the way our customer views us when they walk in the door.

  41. I have to agree with SL, kill them with kindness. I too have went through many bosses in the 20 years where I work and I have outlasted all of them and have earned more respect with all of the workers here because I have not changed my ways. I have always stood for what I believed in but have always voiced my opinion when it was safe to do so or I have kept to myself and let the other workers spout off. And with bosses I have seen it both ways…Men and Women who are bitter and will step all over you. Men can be just as bad!

  42. I have read these postings with a great deal of personal interest, as in the last two years I have been the object of some intense harassment (bullying) from women supervisors. I am older and more educated and experienced, but also (I am told) a more savvy supervisor. I also question what appear to be bad decisions or ignorance in an area such as HR decision that could lead to serious repercussions to the organization. I ask these questions in as neutral manner as possible (not my initial reaction: are you insane?…) but the perceived threat from me is quite apparent, and I am learning to deal ever more carefully, always telling myself ‘they just don’t know any better’ without dwelling too much on ‘nor do they seem to care to learn’. I appreciate the comments about individuals not being able to let go, and want to remind readers that not just women but also men can hold grudges and seek payment or vengeance for some slight, indiscretion, or ‘failure to perform.’

  43. Why are all states not involed in the “Bully Laws”. The state of South Carolina hold of course every other law pertaining to employee rights, or they at least try to appear they do.
    Someone that is very close to me worked for a Myrtle Beach SC company. Due to the economy she worked as long as she possibly could under a “Supervisor” that would curse, scream, and yell at her constantly. Her clients loved her and she increased the number of clientele by leaps and bounds. This supervisor was a male, very over weight and obviously extremely insecure about his weight and also a woman that could run circles around his performance. This young woman was in a high management position. She went to the owner of the company and he did nothing. After having a miscarriage she went back to work. She lost the baby due to the high intensity of the stress. She did not quit her job, again it was due to the economy. Later on she decided to have another baby. This insecure, arrogant man started his yelling again. One day in tears she quit her job because she and her husband feared she would have another miscarriage. She went to the Labor Board and told them the entire story but noone within the company would stand up and tell the truth due to the fear of loosing their job. The owner of the company made a statement one day that was , “He would never hire anyone that was intending to have a family.” This was two years ago and she has still not found a job. By the way she had a beautiful healthy boy.
    Where are the laws in a state that will only beleive what the upper management states?
    Similiar situations have occurred since she left the company. This guy that does this stuff has been fired fron two other companies in our area. Other companies can not say anything because of the fear in being sued.
    I think it is absolutely amazing when employees witness this kind of thing and do not stand up for the person whom is targeted at that “given” moment. This young woman can not use this company for a reference. Of course they will not give any negative response, there is a certain way a person can answer “Would You Rehire?”
    I am the Director of Sales and Marketing for an extremely large company and I would never raise my voice or act in an unprofessional manner with my associates.
    All of the people that this young woman worked with are gone except for two. These are the gossiping and trouble makers who dwell on strife going on within an office.
    You have had a tremendous amount of highly qualified and intelligent individuals respond to this subject. I would love to hear some feedback on this. I have been in my business for a very long time and I always pick up something valuable from the professionals that respond to issues in the work place. Thank You, Sincerely, KJ

  44. sabrina says:

    I have to agree with karen that insecure women are worse than the bullies. I work in a facility where it is about 1/2 and 1/2. 1/2-good workers and 1/2 insecure. the insecure ones wear me out because if there is any comment made that is not directed in a fabulous light (not just good, fabulous) then it has to be because I or whomever does not like them, not because there is a genuine need for improvement. If someone calls to speak to me and my coworker learns about it she wants to be reassured that person is not mad at her because they did not speak with her. We are talking like an 1 hour long session. I want to just scream “Grow up-we don’t have time for this”
    instead I have to smooth it over because it will be heck to pay for the next few days. The ones in my dept that have this insecurity often say its because they are perfectionists and thats the reason they are the way they are. Ugghh!! I just think to myself whatever helps you sleep at night. Out loud I just agree because of the position I am in and pray for them ( and me!!!)

  45. I think Sabrina made an extremely qualified statement regarding the insecure people . “Grow Up”
    How do we say this without being bullies? It is very difficult to point out such negative issues with an employee without sounding ridiculous to yourself. Sabrina said it right, it will take so much energy and time to try to keep everyone in a positive mode. These women and men are not perfectionists as they proclaim. They are the ones that balance their checkbooks and play on the internet half of the workday, then they worry someone is mad or upset with them because coworkers are aware of what they are doing and not doing. In my mind , this is a waste of company time, not to mention the state of mind the gossipers and the playing employees put into the actual good employees and “actual perfectionist” like the ones that do such a magnificient job plus keep clean offices and still have time to have a cup of coffee with associates. When you walk by someone playing on the computer and their desk is an absolute mess, there is basically nothing you can say without coming across as a bad supervisor. I have taken conflict seminars and still will never know how to talk with a coworker with tears in her eyes thinking someone is mad at her for who knows what. I know this sounds cold, cold ,cold, I will never know how to handle this kind of an issue. I enjoy reading so many comments from professionals as yoou all are. I never think it is to late to learn something new.

  46. I have worked with plenty of bullies in my career. It is my experience that neither men nor women dominate this behavior. What is different is their method of bullying. Men use physical intimidation whereas women employ verbal abuse. The best response is to remain calm and professional and document all incidents. It is pointless to respond to these people. They are out of control. Documentation should be factual (leave out the emotion), include dates, times and witnesses, be presented in alignment with company policies, and demonstrate how the behavior affects the company’s bottom line (for example, how much turnover costs a company). When you feel sufficient incidents have been recorded, take them to your HR department or upper management. It is management’s responsibility to enforce its policies. If the behavior continues, start looking for another position or, if possible, terminate your employment. Never tolerate this behavior. You do have options. It may take a little longer, but even in this economy quality professionals will find another position.

    • Inform HR or unions to show you have used internal and union resources, but KNOW they will do nothing for you and in fact they will make the situation worse. Unions collude with the business as a “cottage industry”. You are on your own. You must speak out in every form of media that you can.

  47. Anonymous in FL says:

    As for my experience, I actually have someone, (a woman) who works for me who fits this article’s description. You never know when you speak to her what type of mood she is going to be in. She is OK with everyone else, except for me, (her boss), and then she speaks to me in a degrading manner. I have talked with her before and it will get better. Now we are to a point that she is disrespectful, (but it is not enough as I could write her up). I hate coming to work to deal with her! One of the problems I have found is that she is very jealous and she does not like anyone to tell her what to do. She also thinks that she needs to be in charge and is very critical when someone makes a mistake. I am going to be changing departments soon and I cannot wait because I will no longer supervise this person!

  48. Anonymous says:

    I have seen bullying by men and women, think generally though men have bullied me most. I’m a straight woman and have larger breasts, for some reason, that has brought on bullying, or stereotyping. I seem to have a harder time being taken seriously, and have been called a whore, however, in reality I’m shy and don’t drink, and was married for years.

    If I wear a normal dress, or cami, they think it looks “whoreish” on me, whereas somebody else could go without a bra and not hear that comment, but I can’t afford a reduction, and I feel like maybe the problem is with them. At what point do I really need to tape my boobs down everyday, its not fun.

  49. Anonymous says:

    Another thing I’ve thought about in relation to bullys, is that I believe some of them have depression, or underlying issues in their life. That being said, imo we can treat them with kindness, but I’m giving up on the idea of trying to impress them over time type-thing. I call it getting off the approval treadmill with the bully, after having made reasonable effort. Then cut bait for your own sanity, as best you can.

    It is, an unceasing emotional treadmill of approval at time, and its a long jog for someone that 9 times out of 10 won’t notice, and may not be happy with anything, and is frequently an underperformer at work trying to control others.

  50. Sadly, I can only say that I had only 2 good Female Supervisors in my work career. I do not prefer to work for women because they tend to be moody, catty, personally competitive, bring their baggage from home to work and beat their staff over the head with it! If you are unfortunate enough to work for a female supervisor who is a brown noser to Sr. Management RUN!!! I am not saying that there aren’t any good ones out there, because there are a lot of very smart women that worked hard to get where they are. Some feel they need to show how tough they are in order to be taken seriously and in some cases, males have made it that way for them. The higher up the ranks the female supervisor, the more bullying you will see.

  51. Jennifer this was my situation. Thank you for speaking out. It was a conspiracy by African American middle aged females in the administration who even voiced, “We don’t need these older white women”. After Obama was elected, my supervisor said, “It’s OUR time now.”

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