Twenty years ago when I moved to Nashville, I walked into my new position in a female dominated office. My job had transferred me from my home state of West Virginia to their office smack dab in the middle of the “big” city.
I was so happy to get to be in Nashville where I’d always wanted to live.
I was also scared. …scared of being 7 hours away from my family, scared of being on my own, and scared that I wouldn’t be able to build a new life.
And I was incredibly naive.
See, I just assumed everyone would like each other in my new office. I mean, in the old office we all got along, helped each other out and took pride in our teamwork.
My rude awakening came about 45 days into my new position when I stumbled across notes my female co-workers were writing about me behind my back.
To give you some perspective, I was in my early 20’s and these women were mostly in their 40’s and beyond.
I was devastated.
Here I was in a city I didn’t know trying to figure out how to drive in terrifying traffic with no friends, no family and a dream of writing songs (which I wouldn’t admit to anyone because I thought it was so cliche’).
And now I find out that the women I worked with were tearing me to shreds at every turn.
I felt so foolish and stupid for bending over backward to be nice. And all the extra stuff I was doing to try help out (like we did in my old office?) Yeah, they were mad about that, too.
I called home that night crying.
I remember thinking that nothing was working, and the one thing I thought I had—a job I liked— well, I didn’t have that either.
Dad gave me some of the best advice he ever gave me that night.
He said to find the ring-leader, and then go sit down across from her at her desk in a one-on-one situation. He told me to look her in the eye, tell her I was aware of what they were doing to me, and to tell her I was just there trying to make living.
The Next Day…
I put my shoulders back, walked straight over to her and DID IT. And then I asked her to call off the dogs.
You know what?
One of the 3 Core Principles I work on with my clients is empowerment.
Even though we didn’t use the same language back then, my Dad empowered me to take charge of a bad situation.
And wouldn’t you know, this past week one of my clients faced a similar situation.
You know what I told her?
We’ve GOT this!
And because I know she and I are not the only women to have faced a similar situation, I wanted to share this with you, too.
Print it out.
Hang it up.
Refer to it as often as you need.
But HEAR ME when I say we are not powerless.
5 Steps to Handling Mean Women
1. Mean girls do not get to hide in shadows. People who choose to gossip and bully must be held accountable.
2. Call the tearing down of fellow women what it is. It is an ugly use of language that we do not tolerate.
3. A firm and centered conversation with eye contact helps you access your power position.
4. Speak to the facts and not the emotion.
5. Let it go. Empowered women do not hang out in the mud. Once you’ve shown the light, move on. You’re not responsible for changing someone else. You’re responsible for standing in your integrity.