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Mean Girls at Work: How to Stay Professional When Things Get Personal

Book Description

One of the New York Post's Top 10 Career Books of 2012 and a Booklist Top 10 Business Book


A woman’s field guide to the new frontier of professional development—working with other women

Women-to-women relationships in the workplace are . . . complicated. When they’re good, they’re great. But when they’re bad, they can ruin your day, your week—even your year.

Packed with proven advice from two of today’s leading experts in workplace relationships, this one-of-a-kind guide gives women the tools they need to navigate difficult situations unique to women-to-women relationships—whether with a boss, a colleague, a client, or an employee.

Have you dealt with a woman in the workplace who:

  • “Accidentally” excludes you from important meetings?
  • Seems intent on taking you down professionally?
  • Gossips about you with other coworkers?
  • Makes you look bad by missing deadlines?
  • Forms a “pack” of mean girls to make your life miserable?

Mean Girls at Work isn’t just about surviving difficult situations. It’s about transforming a toxic relationship into one that benefits and supports both of you.

This book is also for women who engage in mean behavior . . . but don’t know it. After all, who hasn’t gossiped about a female coworker? Who hasn’t rolled her eyes in the presence of a woman she doesn’t like? Who hasn’t scanned another woman head to toe—which is just a nonverbal way of saying, “You’ve just been judged”? The authors provide invaluable advice to the more subtle ways of being mean—even if they’re not intended.

With a workforce composed of a higher percentage of women than ever, workplace dynamics have changed. Crowley and Elster cover every conceivable scenario, providing critical advice on how to rise above the fray and move forward professionally.

Mean Girls at Work is your map to dodging the mines and moving forward in today’s transformed workplace.

Praise for Mean Girls at Work

“An invaluable suit of armor for surviving nine to five!”
—Leil Lowndes, bestselling author of How to Talk to Anyone

“If you think the emotional cruelty of comedies like Mean Girls and Heathers doesn’t exist in the real world workplace, think again. In Mean Girls at Work, Katherine Crowley and Kathi Elster valuably chronicle female vs. female predators and offer solid defensive strategies.”
—Ann Kreamer, author of It’s Always Personal: Navigating Emotion in the New Workplace

“Whether you are in your twenties and just starting your professional career, your midcareer forties, when you are supposed to have figured it out already, or a woman in her fifties or sixties who’s seen it all—this book is a must-read. . . . The authors have finally given women the tools and the sound advice necessary to deal with . . . conflicts that keep us all from succeeding. . . . Carry this book with you to work every day!”
—Carolyn Cassin, President, Michigan Women’s Foundation

“A must-read for women of all ages in today’s workforce. This book offers what we all need to develop the capacities to endure this ever-changing workplace. We know it is all about relationships and you need the skills outlined in this book to survive and thrive when the Mean Girls attack.”
—Kim Harrington, Coordinator, Professional Development and Training, Office of Human Resources, California State University, Sacramento

Table of Contents

  1. Cover Page
  2. Mean Girls At Work : How to Stay Professional when Things Get Personal
  3. Copyright Page
  4. Dedication
  5. Contents
  6. Acknowledgments
  7. Introduction
    1. Why We Wrote This Book
    2. Who Needs This Book
    3. How to Read This Book
  8. Chapter 1 The Different Faces of Mean
    1. What Is a Mean Girl?
    2. Our “Don't Go There” Process
    3. Here Is the “Don’t Go There” Process
    4. Coffee Break: Silent Weapons Women Use
  9. Chapter 2 Meanest of the Mean
    1. She’s an Ice Princess
    2. She Sees All Women as Adversaries
    3. She Puts You Down Publicly
    4. Coffee Break: How to Take a Mean Girl’s Behavior Less Personally
    5. She Gives Harsh and Demeaning Feedback
    6. She’s Extremely Argumentative
    7. She Solicits Personal Information and Uses It Against You
    8. Coffee Break: You Don’t Have to Suffer Alone—When to Reach Out for Professional Help
    9. She’s Cold and Rejecting
    10. In Her Own Words: She Sabotages You
    11. She Wants to Get Rid of You Because You’re Different
    12. She Hacks into Your Private Communications (Twitter, Facebook, and E-mail), Then Uses Them Against You
    13. Coffee Break: Developing Your Mean Girl Detector (Mean-o-Reader)
    14. Just Between Us Girls
  10. Chapter 3 Very Mean
    1. Personal Strategies for Coping with Mean Girls
    2. In Her Own Words: She’s a Vicious Gossip
    3. She Belittles Your Accomplishments
    4. She Tells Lies About You to Others
    5. Coffee Break: Why Some Women Cannot Admit to Their Bad Behavior
    6. She Speaks as if You Aren’t in the Room
    7. She Publicly Makes Fun of Something You Confided to Her
    8. She Has a Negative Reaction when You Receive Praise
    9. She Talks Down to You
    10. Coffee Break: Don’t Forget to Breathe
    11. She Praises You Publicly but Puts You Down Privately
    12. She’s Extremely Friendly, Then Extremely Cold
    13. She Constantly Disagrees with You in Public
    14. She Can’t Forgive a Mistake You Made
    15. Coffee Break: Could You Drop a Pound of Resentment?
    16. She Agrees to Back You, but Doesn’t
    17. Just Between Us Girls
  11. Chapter 4 Passively Mean
    1. You Overhear Her Gossiping About You
    2. Coffee Break: How Gossip Hurts
    3. She Excludes You from a Meeting
    4. In Her Own Words: She Excludes You from an Important E-mail
    5. She Cuts You Out of a Project
    6. She Fails to Give You Important Information
    7. Coffee Break: Resisting the Temptation to Counterattack
    8. She Goes Behind Your Back and Says She Can Do a Better Job
    9. She Gives You and Another Woman the Same Assignment
    10. She Says Yes when She Really Means No
    11. Coffee Break: Strike when You’ve Cooled Off—Not in the Heat of the Moment
    12. She Says Things That Sound Good but Feel Bad
    13. Just Between Us Girls
  12. Chapter 5 Doesn’t Mean to Be Mean
    1. She Spreads Rumors
    2. Coffee Break: The No Gossip Diet
    3. She Just Doesn’t Do Her Job, Making You Look Bad
    4. She’s Chronically Late
    5. She Continually Dumps Her Work on You
    6. She Is Less Organized than You Are
    7. Coffee Break: Reduce Her Abuse by Setting Limits
    8. She’s Always Depressed
    9. She Uses Health Problems to Get Attention
    10. She’s Very Moody
    11. You’ve Helped Her, but She Won’t Help You
    12. Coffee Break: It’s Not Fair
    13. She Excludes You from an Important Professional Decision
    14. She’s Overly Controlling
    15. She Flaunts Her Social Status
    16. Coffee Break: The Comparing Game
    17. In Her Own Words: She’s Jealous of Your Looks
    18. She’s Jealous when You Get Engaged or Married
    19. She’s Jealous of Your Youth
    20. Just Between Us Girls
  13. Chapter 6 Doesn’t Know She’s Mean
    1. She Bosses You Around
    2. She Constantly Offers Unsolicited Advice
    3. Coffee Break: Before You Offer Advice
    4. She Critiques Your Appearance
    5. In Her Own Words: Her Jokes Are Hurtful
    6. Coffee Break: Appreciating the Power of Words
    7. She Infringes on Your Territory, Does Your Job, and Makes You Look Bad
    8. She Takes Credit for Your Ideas
    9. Coffee Break: When to Take a Conversation Offline
    10. She Competes with You for the Boss’s Attention
    11. She Always Has to Be Right
    12. She’s More Experienced than You Are and Challenges Your Authority
    13. Just Between Us Girls
  14. Chapter 7 She Brings Out Your Mean
    1. She Thinks She’s Better and Smarter than She Really Is
    2. She’s a Nonstop Talker
    3. She Asks Too Many Questions
    4. Coffee Break: Accepting What We Don’t Like
    5. She Talks to Her Friends and Family All Day Instead of Doing Her Job
    6. She’s Rude to You
    7. She’s a Drama Queen
    8. She Always Favors the Newest Hire
    9. In Her Own Words: She Gets Promoted Because She Sleeps with the Boss
    10. She Wants to Gossip with You About Others
    11. Coffee Break: Why Gossip Is So Delicious
    12. Just Between Us Girls
  15. Chapter 8 Group Mean
    1. A Workplace Clique Excludes You
    2. A Workplace Clique Gossips About Someone and Wants You to Join In
    3. Two or More Women Whisper when You Walk By
    4. In Her Own Words: A Workplace Clique Harasses You
    5. The Pack Attack—You’re Attacked by a Group of Coworkers
    6. Just Between Us Girls
  16. Conclusion: Mean Girl Cheat Sheet and Parting Words
  17. Resources