Friday, January 14, 2011

My interview with Forbes and 3 Ways to Diffuse the "Bitching Point" in Your Own Office


I was fortunate enough to be interviewed by Forbes yesterday about my experience with bitchy women in the workplace and how to diffuse someone's "bitching point".

Here is the completed, and wonderfully articulate article, from Meghan Casserly, the "Girl Friday" writer for Forbes.com. She and I spoke yesterday about what we thought the differences were between assertive women and women who are just bitches. Here is the article to read the complete story: When it comes to getting ahead at work, when does being assertive cross into hostile territory?

After hanging up the phone with Meghan, my mind was whirling. We both have had many past experiences where we had to deal with a difficult woman in the workplace. You could even hear a little bit of fatigue in both of our voices when we began speaking candidly about the topic.

"It's such a dichotomy." I remember saying. You need to be strong to get ahead in a world that is still dominated by men and yet even women say they would rather work for a male employer. We want to succeed but we don't like the competition that other women in the workplace represent. So how do we cheer each other on when sometimes we just want to bitch each other out?

First, as discussed in Ms. Casserly's article you need to define your own "bitching point" and be self aware enough to step away from a conversation if it is heading into the bitch zone. However, if you've already blown your top and are now trying to figure out how to mend fences, here are three practical ways to do that:

1. Address it Head on

Don't tiptoe around the topic.

If you said something you shouldn't have or have found out that a certain co-worker is spreading rumors about you and want to chew her out, the only way to solve the issue is directly. Confrontation is a hard pill to swallow for "nice girls", but if you are the one to instigate the "air clearing" conversation, you have a much better chance of shutting down the rumor mill and to regain a working relationship with that person.

2. Apologize First

Even if you are not the one at fault, apologize. You don't have to take responsibility for something that isn't yours to claim, but something as simple as, "I just want to apologize if I spoke out of turn."

3. Avoid if need be

The truth of the matter is that there may some women in your work place that you will never get along with. Different personalities react differently to stress. Sometimes, you just have to make peace with the fact that you and her may never see eye to eye. Resolve to make the relationship a professional one, and stop giving her the ability to affect you personally by establishing boundaries.

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