3 Tips for Dealing with Workplace “Mean Girls”

The "mean girl" mentality doesn't stop after high school graduation day

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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