Dealing with Mean Girls… as an Adult

For most of us, we stop dealing with “mean girls” in middle school and high school. When you run across them in adulthood, it’s usually at work because that’s really the only time we are forced to be around people we don’t like. I worked in the TV industry for about 10 years, so I came across a few mean girls. Not a lot, but a few.

Why were they mean? In general, I think they were all a little insecure because the TV business is very competitive. (Believe it or not, bloggers are worse!) I’m going to tell you how I handled them, then I’m going to offer you some tips.

Mean-Girls-as-an-adult

So, what did I do? In most cases, nothing. They were not worth my time or energy. It’s not like school where you’re kinda forced to be friends with the girls in class. I’m an adult and I’m doing my job to make money to survive. Your issues with me are exactly that – your issues.

Sometimes, I got the feeling these “mean girls” wanted me to think they were so much better and more important than me. I let them think I believed it all. I didn’t really care. If that makes you feel better about yourself, I’m glad I could help – because your self esteem needs that little pick me up. Mine doesn’t.

If I was still bothered after all that – I would call them out on their 8th grade game. One time, it stopped. I’m not saying I confronted a bully, because I don’t let people bully me – but I let this person know her childish antics really didn’t have an effect on me, so she quit. Another one went nuts, but I honestly believe she had more serious mental problems – so I steered clear after that. I don’t mess with crazy. (I also asked some other friends in the business how they deal with mean girls, so scroll down to the bottom for their advice.)

So, what should you do?

Be confident.

Mean girls pick targets. Confident people are not one of them. Be strong and stay professional. Even if you feel nervous or defeated, don’t show it. Click here for tips on building self confidence.

Mind your response.

You can’t control your feelings, but you can control the way you respond to something. That response, whether it be positive or negative, will probably have a direct effect on your feelings moving forward. (I think this is just a good life tip in general.)

Stand up for yourself.

This is part of being confident – it’s showing you are confident which in many cases, will let that mean girl know she is messing with someone who has more confidence than her. Bye Felicia.

Keep working hard.

You are there to make money, not friends. Yes, it’s great to get along with people at work but you can’t let one or two mean girls influence you leaving your job… unless she is a boss – then, I’d look to leave myself!

Document it.

This is when things get really bad… like HR bad. I think many mean girls are also ass-kissers to the “right” people, so it could turn into a she said/she said issue if it is something that is eventually discussed. Just be prepared.

Working-WomanMy friend Robin has been in the TV news business for 20 years. She responds by acting even meaner, haha. But she does it in a semi-confrontational way that says, “is that all you got?” to just shut it down. For her, it works.

Lisa Rapp is a TV host who laughs the mean girls off. “Girls like that think they are so much better… and they are not.  They have to always be right, or think they are, to be happy. I am a very positive person. I find the good in every situation.  I know what I bring to the table.”

My friend Tamara Berg is a lifestyle expert and host of The Tamara Twist on PBS who”flips it” as she says. “I figure most of these gals are coming from a psychological space of competitiveness and lack a “there’s only so much to go around” kind of mentality. But I truly believe that there is enough success, there are enough jobs and there is enough admiration for all of us! So, instead of fueling their beliefs, I flip this and embrace them (not literally) by greeting them with genuine warmth, complimenting them… On to the next one!”

Brigiite is a TV producer, host and social media manager who hustled and worked hard to get where she is. This is her take on mean girls: “I have met SO many college interns who have shown up to production jobs in full makeup, stilettos and tight mini skirts looking like they are ready to party instead of work! It is the whole I’m-Too-Pretty-For-Hard-Work thing and they become mean girls when you try to manage them and put them to work. Most of these girls want a career as hosts and don’t understand how the business works.”

How do you handle mean girls at work?

About Christina

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I'm a blogger, media specialist, and most importantly... mother of two! I operate my own business, Media Maven, specializing in media relations, video production, writing, blogging, and event & on-air hosting.

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  1. Great tips! I don’t really know if I’ve dealt with “mean girls.” I’m sure I’ve come across them, but my “technique” if you will is to never get too involved with people at work (or let them know your business), I also subconsciously turn on the blinders and I don’t concern myself with things that don’t concern me i.e. “mean girls.” Therefore, I don’t know if I’ve dealt with mean girls! But..I did leave a job because of a mean manager! ha

    Aubrey @ 53weeks / Reply
  2. I love how you got the feedback from other people–in the TV Business. I have run across a few “mean girls” in my 30s. I find that those who are MEAN– are often just insecure.

    Constance / Reply
  3. I’m’a be like Taylor Swift and “Shake it off” 🙂

    Angela / Reply
  4. I work in TV as well, we (the person knows who they are) had to deal with a mean girl situation. I give her some of these tips. Needless to say it worked out.

    Talitha Haynes / Reply

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