Working women and mothers are the norm these days. But as the number of professional women increases, so do the proverbial elephants in the office. The issue that no one seems eager to discuss is the phenomenon of women sabotaging each other in the workplace…and why they do it.
Professional men have been merrily swiping at each other for years and somehow manage to attribute the competition to ‘business and nothing personal’. But when it comes to women, it seems most of the stabbing is done in the back. We get opposing messages from the workplace about being ambitious and successful. In addition, we’re caught between ambition and social views of femininity. A working woman may subvert her competitive nature for more passive forms of aggression, because they’re afraid of coming across as ‘bad women’, as if women should always be bonding together and supporting one another. This fear not only keeps women from addressing the issue, but is also the crux of the problem. Women often still get strong messages that in our relationships with each other, we must put the other woman before ourselves… that’s one way.
Then you get some women, who think and act just like men and want to excel professionally and don’t give a damn about being kind or a generous person and prefer to fight dirty. They will tell lies, hide work or withhold critical information, finger point and blame you for mistakes that are not of your making to the big bosses. They’re nice to your face, while boldly presenting your ideas as their own behind your back…this of course happened to me personally by a much older woman at my job who was very envious, jealous, spiteful and petty, due to me being much younger and I had the job that she unsuccessfully campaigned for.
So what is the cause, aside from the aforementioned, coupled with professional ambition which causes women to clash so fiercely at work? We can argue all day long about differences in race and class for bringing working women into conflict. There’s also competition over looks and sexual appeal if you can believe that! I’ve laughingly witnessed this firsthand. Such as co-workers being jealous of the attention you get in the workplace by the men on staff. The first step to dealing with a difficult female at work? Communication.
Women can begin by talking about this with each other. The office environment is built around confrontation, and women must learn to engage in it with respect and full disclosure. Women should learn to fight their urge to share too much with female colleagues, a trait that can make them vulnerable. Emotional availability should be an asset, not a detriment, and competition can be healthy. Women can strike the balance between ambition and collaboration in part by discarding the old lie that competition is for men. Here are some tips if you feel that you’re at risk of being betrayed by a female colleague: you protect yourself hopefully without making enemies.
Remember, being respected isn’t the same as being liked…you don’t have to be friends with other women on the job…lord knows I’m not, but I remain friendly.