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The "mean girl" mentality doesn't stop after high school graduation day. Unfortunately for some, once a bully, always a bully. This mean-spirited, often-abusive behavior can carry on into adulthood and squirm its way into offices and boardrooms. While the "mean girl" may think she's tough and intimidating, inside, she's likely insecure and immature.

How to tell if you're being victimized? As per The Balance, ask yourself this, "Do you regularly feel intimidated, dread to work near a particular coworker, or you're yelled at, insulted, and put down? Does a coworker talk over you at meetings, criticize you, or steal credit for your work? If you answer yes to these questions, chances are good that you're one of 54 million Americans who have been attacked by a bully at work."

You may be a self-assured and savvy individual, but when a "mean girl" sets her target and it lands on you, her predatory nature won't be scared off easily. Perhaps the more envious she is of your work ethic and inter-personal relationships with co-workers, the more she will zone in on you to cause trouble.

Just because a "mean girl" lights a fire it doesn't mean you must sit idly by to watch it burn. When ignoring her doesn't work and your job performance and level of comfort is diminishing, it's time to act. Bullies are not bullet-proof and must be put in their place. Use these tips to get the "mean girl" to quit her disruptive and detrimental behavior once and for all. You'll regain your sanity, protect others from future abuse, and perhaps she'll one day reflect on her patterns and actions to make changes for the better.

Keep Your Cool

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Freak out and you'll give the "mean girl" just the reaction she was aiming for. Not only will your reaction excite this bully, but it could cause you to get a bad reputation around the office as well. What to do? As per Fast Company, "Find a way to stay calm and work on your game face. If you show that you're hurt or upset, that's going to make them happy as heck. Stay grounded."

It may take a moment to think before you react, but by keeping composed, you're already ahead of the game. And that's really what this is in her mind… a game. Only now, you're the winner.

Be Straightforward

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If you opt to say something to the "mean girl," make it direct. Don't beat around the bush or communicate anything that is vague. Setting limits is something The Balance strongly advises. "Exercise your right to tell the bully to stop the behavior. Describe the behavior you see the bully exhibiting. Don't say you're mean and nasty to me. Meaningless commentary to a bully. Better? You regularly enter my cubicle, lean over my shoulder, and read my personal correspondence on my computer screen."

The Balance adds that you must make it clear how their behavior is negatively impacting your work and what you are not prepared to deal with any longer.

Keep Accounts and Report

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If bullying is bothering you, you must document the events. As per Fast Company, "Write down what happened and when. Keep detailed accounts of the circumstances, exactly what was said, and who, if anyone, heard or saw it."

Huffington Post adds, "Never leave the documentation in the office." You don't want the "mean girl" to get her hands on it and destroy the evidence or have one of her cohorts get back to her with the damaging information.

Report the situation to your superior or HR. You do not deserve this treatment and must put an end to it. According to U.S. News & World Report, "HR is specifically designed to handle these kinds of complaints. They understand the potential legal ramification if the situation escalates. Describe what is happening in detail and explain how the situation is impacting your ability to do your work. It's important to stress that you want to find a productive, comfortable way of addressing the situation."

"Mean girls" are not powerful enough to block your success. Deal accordingly and take the high road. She certainly won't be walking there!

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I’ve been feeling very British lately. Not in a Union-Jack-obsessed, “Keep Calm and Carry-On” way. I went through that phase in 2012 with everyone else… no thank you. And it’s not even a surge of patriotism catalyzed by the Queen dying — I’m firmly team Diana and team Meghan.

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Quiet Quitting is the latest trend among Gen-Z TikTok that encourages setting boundaries at work

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Toni Morrison has an anecdote about her first ever job, which was cleaning some neighborhood woman’s house. The young Toni arrived home after work one day and expressed her troubles to her father. But he didn’t provide the sympathy she expected. Instead, he gave her something better — his advice:

“Listen. You don’t live there. You live here. With your people. Go to work. Get your money. And come on home.”

Years later, she wrote about this remarkable experience for the New Yorker and said, in hindsight, this is what she learned:

1. Whatever the work is, do it well—not for the boss but for yourself

2. You make the job; it doesn’t make you

3. Your real life is with us, your family

4. You are not the work you do; you are the person you are

What Morrison so eloquently articulated was setting boundaries. I revisited this piece during the pandemic when working from home ramped up in earnest. Back when work was one of the few things that anchored my day.

Without a physical office, the pandemic shattered the work/life balance for many people. There was no more of that physical separation that Morrison talked about. There is no coming home from work physically. There is no real life to come back to — just a manufactured commute to your laptop in your makeshift home office.

But, par for the course, Gen Z are navigating this boundaryless era using TikTok. While internet gurus promote hustle culture and constant online availability since you’re not getting face time with your managers, there’s a trend in town — “quiet quitting.”


@zaidleppelin On quiet quitting #workreform ♬ original sound - ruby


The trend arose from the depths of the pandemic. Layoffs, salary cuts, and furloughs proved that their employers did not care about their hard-working employees.

The Washington Post dubs quiet quitting as a fresh trem for an old phenomenon: employee disengagement. In many cases, it’s a response to burnout. For much of Gen Z, it’s a way of establishing healthy boundaries in the office and resisting the pressure of the rat race. After all, why work yourself to the bone for a company that just proved it’s ready and willing to let you go?

Despite the term’s negative connotations, Quiet Quitting can provide an empowering shift in thinking for employees.

For far too long, employees have been indoctrinated with a slew of toxic workplace advice. Faced with these old misconceptions and lacking job security or clear paths for advancement, Gen Z is untethering their identities from work.

Quiet quitting — therefore — might be a bit of a misnomer. These employers aren’t completely disengaged. They’re certainly not launching Flight Club-esque sabotage attempts on their employers. NO. Contrary to media panic, Gen Z understands the value of a job — the fickle market they entered ensured that. But they also understand the value of life.

They’re doing what they’re being paid for. Nothing more, nothing less.

According to Chief, a private membership network focused on connecting and supporting women executive leaders, older generations should learn from this approach.

“Gen Z has already endured the largest seismic shifts to the career landscape than any previous generation, having started their careers in the middle of a pandemic that changed office culture forever and a gig economy that makes piecing together work more viable. They’re taking both those realities and therefore demanding more autonomy and flexibility than any other generation.”

Gen Z are less attached to job titles and statuses. They’re more concerned about their lives. Sure, this can lead to problematic outlooks on money and experiences — see the “I can earn my money back” TikTok trend. But it’s better than hustling for no reward. Besides, as some Gen Z-ers put it on TikTok, the office isn’t even a vibe.

“With the ability to work from anywhere and for more than just one place, Gen Z-ers are forging their own paths that don’t rely on old patterns set by previous generations and are redefining what “career success” looks like. Gen Z can take note, as more and more leaders are similarly pursuing multiple income streams of their own through the form of a portfolio career. The way in which work looks like and where it happens is evolving.”

With less single-minded focus on one job, some TikTok business gurus advocate shutting your laptops precisely at 5 pm. And then jump onto your side hustle. Do nails or lashes on the weekend. Become social media managers for your phone. Sell soap on Etsy (again … perhaps not in the Fight Club way).

But this valorization of side hustles is not about hustle culture, either. They say job security isn’t guaranteed. Learning new skills and develop an alternate income stream/s to keep you afloat. Just make sure you’re not left in the lurch. BTW inflation is here. So every little bit helps.

But where do you start? Watching TikToks can only get you so far. Try a course on LinkedIn Learning to sharpen up your skills and learn new ones that you can turn into a verifiable side hustle — or leverage in your job search if quiet quitting leads to … real quitting.

Learn on your own time with bite-sized videos or in-depth courses. Watch them after work, before you clock in, or on your lunch break. Then, after your courses are complete, you’ll have certificates prominently displayed on your profile that prove your skills.